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Title: A Biography of Henry Clay, The Senator from Kentucky: and The life and Speeches of the Hon. Henry Clay
Author: Mallory, Daniel
Language: English
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  Illustration: HENRY CLAY

                              HENRY CLAY,

                      THE SENATOR FROM KENTUCKY.

                          COMPILED AND EDITED


                            DANIEL MALLORY.

                           CONTAINING ALSO,


                        COMPLETE IN ONE VOLUME.

                         _Copyright Secured._

                        A. S. BARNES & COMPANY,

                         NEW YORK AND CHICAGO.

                         CONTENTS OF VOLUME I.

  Life of Henry Clay.
  Henry Clay, a Poem, by George D. Prentice, Esq.
  Obituary Addresses, delivered in the Senate and House of
  Funeral Sermon, by Rev. C. M. Butler, Chaplain of the Senate.
  Speech on Domestic Manufactures.
  Speech on the Line of the Perdido.
  Speech on renewing the Charter of the First Bank of the
    United States.
  Speech on the Augmentation of Military Force.
  Speech on the Increase of the Navy.
  Speech on the New Army Bill.
  Speech on his Return from Ghent.
  Speech on the United States Bank Question.
  Speech on the Direct Tax, and the State of the Nation after the
    Close of the War with Great Britain.
  Speech on the Bill for forcing Neutrality.
  Speech on Commercial Restrictions with Foreign Nations.
  Speech on Internal Improvement.
  Speech on the War between Spain and her Colonies.
  Speech on Internal Improvement.
  Speeches on the Emancipation of South America.
  Speech on the Seminole War.
  Speech on South American Affairs.
  Speech on the Spanish Treaty.
  Speech on the Protection of Home Industry.
  Speech on the Mission to South America.
  Speech on the Greek Revolution.
  Speech on American Industry.
  Speech in Reply to John Randolph.
  Address to La Fayette.
  Address to his Constituents on the Presidential Election of 1825.
  Speech on the Election of President by Congress in 1825.
  Speech on African Colonization.
  Speech on the Charge of Corruption.
  Speech on Heedless Enthusiasm for Mere Military Renown.
  Speech on the Political Condition of the United States during
    J. Q. Adams’ Administration.
  Speech on retiring from Office.
  Speech on the Commencement of Jackson’s Administration.
  Speech on the Effect of the Protective System on the Southern States.
  Speech on Nullification, &c.
  Speech on the Reduction of Duties on Imports.
  Speech on the Nomination of Mr. Van Buren, as Minister to Great


IN writing the Biography of HENRY CLAY, we are conscious of entering a
field several times explored, by individuals of great ability, who have
spread before a delighted public the rich rewards of their researches.
But its great amplitude――the loftiness of its hills――the breadth of
its valleys――and the vastness of its enclosures, induce the belief,
that the office of another explorer would not be altogether that of
a gleaner; on the contrary, that the proper performance of its duties
would result in the discovery of new beauties, and in the acquisition
of new treasure. Under the influence of this belief, the resolution
was taken and preliminaries settled of our undertaking, and ourself
brought to its borders, indulging in visions of anticipated pleasure,
not unlike those which an enthusiastic botanist experiences, who, with
feranthos across his shoulders, and analyzing apparatus in his satchel,
is about to enter the fair field of nature, to cull and examine the
loveliest specimens of her skill. Personal gratification, however,
was not the only nor chief motive prompting us to the undertaking.
We desired to procure a larger and better collection than had ever
been made of the mental gems of him who had moved in patriotic majesty
over it, and adorned its enclosures of intellectual verdure with the
brilliants of pure and lofty action; to gather and collocate these, we
were strongly urged by the consideration that we should thus contribute,
in some degree, to carry into execution that which formed one of
the most interesting features of Mr. Clay’s character――_a desire
to submit his every public act to the closest public scrutiny_――a
desire which was never introduced to subserve a certain purpose, but
which was coeval with his political existence, and which he ever,
under all circumstances, unequivocally avowed. A further motive was
derived from our own ardent desire to behold a more deeply-seated and
generally-extended conviction of the purity, disinterestedness, and
inestimable value of his services, which, in view of our own experience,
we firmly believed would be the invariable issue of a careful and
candid examination of them. That we sincerely and strongly wished the
dissemination and establishment of this conviction we gladly affirm,
not because we attach the slightest importance to it, considered as
a mere isolated fact, but because we knew it would be productive of
great and permanent good in the minds of all where it should find a

It is a well-known and prominent truth, that those who are
familiar with the beauties and sublimities of the natural world,
are distinguished for expansive, liberal, and noble views. An effect
parallel to this is distinctly seen in those who are surrounded by the
magnificent scenery of the mental and moral world, and whose dwellings
are irradiated by their effulgent luminaries. Hence, a sage custom of
the ancient Greeks, as related by one of their historians, of causing
their youth to be similarly circumstanced――especially those who were
being educated with direct reference to the assumption of the duties
and responsibilities of public life. In qualifying these appropriately
to discharge the former and sustain the latter, their guardians and
preceptors deemed it of vital importance to place before them the
noblest scenes and subjects. In close connection with the precept
‘_know thyself_,’ they enjoined that of ‘_know the good and great of
others_.’ To them it was well known, that the contemplation of deeds of
mental and moral grandeur was most salutary――that it generated a desire
to imitate and surpass them――nay, more; that it limned them upon the
walls of the soul, and filled it with the most beautiful intellectual
imagery, which would eventually develope itself in action――magnanimous,
patriotic, and conservative of the best interests of mankind. To
attempt to prove that such deeds thickly adorn the field of Mr. Clay’s
history would be superfluous, since the fact is well established in all
civilized countries.

So much in relation to the motives for our undertaking. A brief
statement of the manner and circumstances of its performance may not be

Our visions of anticipated pleasure, at its commencement, were fully
realized during its progress. We had expected to be rewarded by the
discovery of intellectual diamonds of the first water, but not in
such rich profusion as we found them. In consequence of the frequent
struggles between our inclination and inability to gather and bring
away all, we fear that many of intrinsic value have been left behind;
but we trust and believe, that the most beautiful and important
specimens will be found in our collection. Entire originality for it
is not claimed, but aid from various sources has been received in its
formation. Deeming the facts and events of Mr. Clay’s career public
property, we have freely taken and appropriated them, wherever found,
without considering it incumbent upon us to designate their locality.

With regard to the Speeches of Mr. Clay, no labor has been spared in
seeking for them, and it is believed that few, if any, which have been
reported, will be found wanting in our collection. A brief memoir has
been prefixed to each, illustrative of the subject and occasion on
which it was delivered, and the fate of the question. In this labor
we have been materially assisted by Mr. EDWIN WILLIAMS, the former
secretary of the American Institute; a gentleman well known for his
accuracy and ability in historical and statistical matters.

In giving the result of our investigations, we express our fears
that it will be found to contain imperfections, notwithstanding our
endeavors to guard against them. It has been exceedingly difficult to
speak of Mr. Clay’s eminent acts, without sliding imperceptibly into
the path of eulogy. This, perhaps, has led to the error of saying too
much sometimes, and too little at others. For defects of this nature,
however, the intelligent reader will require no apology. But the
deficiency most prominent, and one which we lament most sincerely,
is, that of not having done justice to his transcendent talents
and abilities as an orator. For this, an excuse must be furnished
by our incompetency; the consciousness of which fell upon us, with
overwhelming force, as we stood in the presence of his eloquence.
We watched its wonderful and spirit-like movements and operations,
and turned away from the task of adequate description, as we would
have shrank from the fruitless endeavor to take the dimensions of
a boundless and unfathomable ocean. Attempts at describing it we
have indeed made, but they are abortive――dim shadows of its noble
substance, and tenantless abodes of its beauty. Our belief of the
utter impossibility to convey an adequate idea of it through the medium
of written or verbal statement, has been confirmed by the opinion of
those who have often beheld its manifestations. A distinguished senator
remarked to us very recently, that Mr. Clay’s eloquence was absolutely
intangible to delineation――that the most labored and thrilling
description could not embrace it, and that, to be understood, it
must be seen and felt. Neither is it contained in those inimitable
productions of mind――his speeches. Abundant evidences of its magic
influence are found in these. The monuments heaved up by its hand of
power, stand thick about its gorgeous pathway, which runs through them
all like a golden tissue, but _it_ is not there. Its nature is too
closely allied to etheriality to find a fit terrestrial abode.

What has been said of Mr. Clay’s eloquence, is, to a great extent,
true of his philanthropy and patriotism. No individual was ever less
controlled by sectional feeling. The height of benevolence on which he
planted himself was so lofty as to enable him, while legislating for
his own country, in particular, to have an eye to, and care for, the
interests of all other countries. In what manner and to what extent
they have been benefitted, by his exalted and humane services, it is
believed an ample and authentic source of information will be found in
our compilation of them. In the full assurance that these will endure
the ordeal of the closest and most philosophic scrutiny to the end of
time, we present them to the public, and cannot avoid giving utterance
to the desire that they may be speedily subjected to it, and in the
same liberal spirit which distinguished their performance. Should such
a result be realized, we shall consider the time employed in gathering
and arranging them most profitably occupied.

                          LIFE OF HENRY CLAY.

BIOGRAPHIC usage might require us to give the pedigree of the
distinguished individual who forms the subject of the following memoir.
Many considerations, however, combine to induce a departure from this
usage. In the first place, we are strongly disposed to question the
practical utility of it; and in the second, to doubt our ability,
even after the most diligent search, to exhibit what is ordinarily the
object of such a search――_an illustrious pedigree_. Indeed, we regard
it as very problematical, whether we should be able to get beyond the
pale of republican simplicity. But the most cogent consideration is the
belief that our efforts would not be more highly appreciated than were
those of the emperor of Austria by Napoleon Bonaparte. The Austrian
monarch, desirous of proving his future son-in-law royally descended,
was busily engaged in making the searches requisite to establish the
fact. Napoleon, becoming acquainted with his intention, immediately
visited him, and exclaimed, ‘Stop, stop, sire! I alone am the author
of my fortune, and desire it to be so understood: neither royal descent
nor royalty has contributed any thing to its achievement, and though
I might legitimately claim both, would not mention either.’ We do not
know that a similar indifference was felt by Mr. Clay, relative to his
lineage, but his plain, unostentatious habits, and firm adherence to
republican principles, warrant us in presuming that such was the case.
Certain it is, however, that for the elevated position he occupied,
he was as little indebted to any adventitious advantages of birth or
fortune, as was the mighty conqueror; and with equal propriety might he
have said, in view of the means by which he had attained that position,
I alone am the architect of my fortune. Without attempting, therefore,
to invest his origin with the splendors of a titled ancestry, it may
suffice to observe, that family reminiscences render it certain that
his immediate progenitors were distinguished for sterling worth, virtue
and integrity. His father, a Baptist clergyman, labored in his official
capacity with great acceptance, in a district of country in Hanover
county, Virginia, familiarly denominated ‘The Slashes,’ where, on
the 12th of April, 1777, his fifth child, Henry, was born. He was
not destined to enjoy those instructions and counsels which a father
only knows how to impart,――for when he had attained his fifth year,
his father died. This event consigned him entirely to the care of his
mother――a woman of an uncommonly vigorous mind, richly adorned with
feminine graces, and every way competent to superintend his incipient

Unfortunately, the embarrassed condition of her husband’s estate at his
death, besides greatly augmenting her cares, prevented her from giving
Henry that thorough course of study which she designed him to pursue.
So far, therefore, from receiving a liberal, he did not receive a good
elementary education. The lowly district school of that region, to
which his instructions were limited, was deficient in almost every
essential respect. But even under these inauspicious circumstances,
in early boyhood he manifested a strong desire for knowledge, which in
consequence of the pecuniary difficulties before mentioned, could not
be gratified. All that the fondest maternal tenderness could do, was
to lead him to the rills of learning, whose sweet waters, instead of
allaying, rendered that desire more intense, and induced the resolution
to seek its gratification at their unadulterated source. This, in after
life, by his indomitable energy, he was enabled to execute.

The means of education afforded him, though meagre in the extreme,
he did not uninterruptedly enjoy. The straitened circumstances of
the family made it necessary for him, in common with his brothers, to
devote large portions of time to manual employments. He was no stranger
to the use of the plough, the spade, and the hoe, over which literally
by the sweat of his brow he earned his daily bread. He gained for
himself the title of ‘Mill Boy of the Slashes,’ by his frequent visits
to a neighboring grist-mill on the Pamunkey river. These he usually
made, seated on a bag of grain thrown across a horse, which he thus
rode with a rope bridle, without a saddle.

He appears not to have shrunk from any employment, however humble,
when directed to it by his beloved mother. To her his attachment was
most ardent, and often has he expressed his deep regret that he was
permitted to enjoy her society during so brief a period. In 1792 she
was married to Mr. Henry Watkins, and removed to Woodford county,
Kentucky, accompanied by all her children, except Henry and his eldest
brother. At the age of fourteen we find him in a small drug store, in
Richmond, Virginia, kept by Mr. Richard Denny. His stay here was short,
and at the commencement of 1792 he entered the office of Mr. Peter
Tinsley, clerk of the High Court of Chancery. Here he found employment
more congenial to his taste than any to which he had hitherto devoted
himself, as well as more ample means for mental culture.

The venerable chancellor Wythe, a gentleman of great personal worth
and profound erudition, attracted by his industrious habits and amiable
appearance, took him into his especial favor, gave him the benefit
of his instructions, and finally made him his amanuensis. By the
opportunities for familiar intercourse with this great man, which
were now afforded him, the most salutary impressions were received
and rapid advances made in the acquisition of knowledge. He sought to
become better acquainted with his vernacular language, and in this was
aided by his friend, who recommended several works for his perusal,
calculated to assist him. Much of his time was employed in copying the
lengthy official documents of the chancellor, who, being passionately
fond of Greek, interlarded them liberally with passages from his most
admired authors. This rendered his task peculiarly onerous, for he was
compelled to copy them in the original, and by imitation, as he was
ignorant of the language. He acquitted himself, however, to the entire
satisfaction of his employer, won his esteem, obtained much valuable,
legal, and general information, and laid the foundation of those habits
of regularity and methodical application which were subsequently of
such great practical advantage to him.

During the year of 1796 he left the office of Mr. Tinsley and went to
reside with the attorney general of Virginia, Robert Brooke, Esq. Here
his advantages for studying law were better than they had previously
been, of which he eagerly availed himself, and with much success. The
year 1797 appears to be the only one in which he pursued the study of
law uninterrupted, yet it must be certain that during his residence
of several years in the capital of Virginia, daily cognizant of legal
proceedings, and associating with the most eminent legal gentlemen
of the period, he acquired an amount of legal information neither
inconsiderable nor unimportant. Near the close of the year he was
licensed to practice law, by the judges of the Virginia Court of
Appeals. He entered on the duties of his profession at Lexington,
Kentucky, under auspices not the most favorable, as appears from
his speech of June, 1842, at the same place. In this he says he ‘was
without patrons, without friends, and destitute of the means of paying
his weekly board. I remember how comfortable I thought I should be,
if I could make £100, Virginia money, per annum, and with what delight
I received the first fifteen shilling fee. My hopes were more than
realized; I immediately rushed into a lucrative practice.’

Though success most unexpected, crowned his first efforts, he did by
no means relax his exertions to qualify himself more thoroughly for
the profession he had chosen. While other young men of his own age,
and not more eligibly situated, with regard to means and employment,
were spending their evenings in recreations suited to their juvenile
dispositions, he was eagerly conning over his own self-directed and
unaided lessons of learning. Most assiduously did he devote his every
leisure hour in enriching his mind, and in polishing his mental armor.
Modest, unassuming, apparently feeble in constitution, languid and
listless in his movements, he exhibited little in his deportment
indicative of those lofty powers of eloquence and commanding talents,
which in latent energy were reposing in his mind. An incident, however,
occurred a short time after, at a meeting of a debating society, by
which they were brought to light. He had been a member of the society
some time, but refrained from taking an active part in its exercises.
This was attributed to those traits of character before mentioned. At
the meeting referred to, a question had been discussed at considerable
length and apparently with much ability, on which the customary
vote was about to be taken, when he observed in an under tone to a
person seated by him, ‘the subject does not seem to be exhausted.’ The
individual addressed, exclaimed, ‘do not put the question yet, Mr. Clay
will speak.’ The chairman by a smile and nod of the head signified
his willingness to allow the discussion to be continued by him, who
thereupon arose under every appearance of trepidation and embarrassment.
The first words that fell from his lips were, ‘Gentlemen of the jury.’
His embarrassment now was extreme; blushing, hesitating, and stammering,
he repeated the words, ‘Gentlemen of the jury.’ The audience evinced
genuine politeness and good breeding, by seeming not to notice his
peculiarly unpleasant and trying condition. Suddenly regaining his
self-possession, he made a speech of such force and eloquence, as to
carry conviction and astonishment at once to the hearts of his hearers.
Subsequently he took a prominent part in the debates of the society,
and became one of its most efficient members.

Shortly after, he was admitted to the Court of Quarter Sessions of
Fayette county, a court of general jurisdiction. Perhaps at no previous
period was the Lexington bar more highly distinguished for the talents
and learning of its members than at that time. ♦Among them were George
Nicholas, John Breckenridge, William Murray, and others, whose long
established reputation and professional skill seemed to set competition
at defiance. They found in Mr. Clay, however, a most formidable
competitor: one who, though bland, courteous, and affable, in the
ordinary intercourse of life, yet on the field of civic strife was as
unyielding and invulnerable as the ‘gnarled oak.’ His talents secured
respect, and soon placed him on a level with the highest. He possessed
the unbounded confidence of the community where he resided, and the
ease with which he secured this was truly surprising. So perfectly
insinuating and winning were his ways, and so captivating his
appearance, that it was usually yielded at the first interview. Such
attributes of mind and person could not and did not fail to surround
him with influential and devoted friends, and secure for him a more
than respectable patronage. A few short months previous he stood alone,
a stranger, unaided, unfriended and destitute, amid the wilds of the
then far-off west. Now, the obstacles which then seemed gigantic,
had dwindled into insignificance. The rough and forbidding aspect of
the road which he had marked out for himself to pursue, had entirely
disappeared, and friends and favors poured in upon him from all
quarters, and he found himself borne along by the breeze of popular
approbation, unconscious that it had yet been awakened.

One to him important result of that confidence which a discerning and
generous public reposed in him, was continual professional employment.
His acute and refined sensibilities, his philanthropic heart, and
sympathizing disposition, joined to his profound knowledge of human
nature and commanding powers of eloquence, pointed him out as one
eminently well qualified to conduct criminal cases. With these,
therefore, we find him much and successfully engaged, and it is a
remarkable fact, taking into consideration the large number of these
cases committed to his care, that never in a single instance was he
defeated. One of the most important early criminal suits in which he
was retained, was that of the wife of a very reputable farmer by the
name of Phelps, a woman who stood high in the estimation of those who
knew her, and deservedly, for she had led hitherto an irreproachable
life. In a fit of passion, caused by some personal reflection of her
husband’s sister, she seized a gun and shot her through the heart.
The poor girl had only time to exclaim, ‘Sister, you have killed me,’
and expired. The great respectability of the parties caused the most
intense excitement, and an immense crowd assembled to witness the trial.
Of the fact of killing the proof was most abundant, and the only point
to be considered was that which respected the nature of the crime. It
was argued with great ability on the part of the prosecuting attorney,
who labored hard to make it out a case of deliberate wilful murder; but
in this he was foiled by the superior skill and adroitness of Mr. Clay,
who not only succeeded in saving the life of his client, but obtained
as light a verdict for imprisonment as the law would allow.

In another similar suit, which occurred shortly after, he evinced,
if possible, greater ability. Two men, Germans, father and son, were
indicted for murder, and were tried in Harrison county. The act of
killing, in this instance also, was proven by evidence so clear and
strong, that it was considered not only a case of murder, but an
exceedingly aggravated one. The trial lasted five days, at the close of
which he addressed the jury in the most impassioned and eloquent manner,
who were so moved by his pathetic appeals that they rendered a verdict
of manslaughter only. After another hard day’s struggle he succeeded
in obtaining an arrest of judgment, by which his clients were set at
liberty. They expressed their gratitude in the warmest terms to their
deliverer, in which they were joined by an old ill-favored female, the
wife of one and the mother of the other, who adopted a different mode,
however, of tendering her thanks, which was by throwing her arms around
Mr. Clay’s neck and repeatedly kissing him, in the presence of the
court and spectators. Respecting her feelings, he did not attempt to
repulse her, but submitted with such grace and dignity to her caresses
as to elicit outbursts of applause.

Mr. Clay manifested great sagacity in discerning and turning to his
advantage a technical law-point, involving doubt. The following case
illustrates this. A man by the name of Willis, indicted for murder,
escaped conviction by the disagreement of the jury, and was put upon
his trial the second time for the crime alleged. After hearing the
arguments of the prosecuting attorney, he brought forward the well
known rule of law, that the life of no one shall be put in jeopardy
twice for the same offence, and insisted on its applicability to the
case under consideration, contending that the trial, according to that
rule, was manifestly illegal, and that therefore conviction would be
impossible. At first the court was disposed to rule out his objections,
which was met on the part of Mr. Clay with a prompt refusal to proceed
with the case, unless allowed to view it in this aspect, and actually
left the room for that purpose. He was soon recalled and permitted
to proceed, and, without the remotest reference to the testimony
previously given, he obtained an acquittal solely on the ground assumed.
In only one instance do we find him engaged as public prosecutor,
in which he procured the conviction of a slave for the murder of his
overseer. With great reluctance he discharged the duties of his office
in this case, and has often been heard to regret that he had any agency
in procuring the execution of the friendless black.

In civil suits he also won great celebrity. In the settlement of
important land claims, he rendered himself very conspicuous. It
is related of him that being engaged in one that involved immense
interests, he associated with him a prominent lawyer to whom he
intrusted its management, as urgent business demanded his absence from
court. Two days were occupied in discussing the legal points that were
to govern the instructions of the court to the jury, on all of which
his colleague was frustrated. Mr. Clay returned before a decision
was rendered, and without acquainting himself with the nature of the
testimony, or ascertaining the manner in which the discussion was
conducted, after conferring a few minutes with his associate, he
prepared and presented in a few words the form in which he wished the
instructions to be given, accompanying it with his reasons, which were
so convincing that the suit was terminated in his favor, in less than
an hour after he reëntered the court room.

His genius and talents now seen and acknowledged by all had gained for
him high professional honors, and fitted him to act a prominent part
on another and more extended field――that of the patriot politician. The
date of his entrance on this field may be placed as far back as 1797,
and it is worthy of particular remark, that the first subject he was
led to investigate, on approaching it, was one peculiarly calculated
to call into exercise those prominent features of his character,
philanthropy and patriotism. Slavery, although existing in Kentucky in
its mildest form, could not and did not appear to him otherwise than
unsightly and revolting――an evil, and one of great magnitude; nor did
he hesitate to pronounce it such. To him, its practical tendencies,
in public and civil no less than in private and social life, were
obviously bad. He saw it diffusing its baneful influences through
the halls of legislation, and twining its sable folds around the very
pillars of government, contaminating and withering. His was not the
position of an unmoved or speculating observer; the mightiest energies,
the holiest impulses of his nature were kindled within him, to arrest
its progress, to break up the unnatural, the unhallowed alliance. But
in yielding, as he did, prompt obedience to those emotions, he did not
rush madman-like, impelled by a blind zeal, into the work, regardless
of results. The sanguinary consequences of such a course rose up and
stared him full in the face, with most appalling power, nor could he
shut his eyes to the palpable fact, that it would inevitably eventuate
in the utter annihilation of those very interests he sought to protect.
It appeared necessary, therefore, to advance cautiously, to sit down,
and, divested of all prejudice, wisely count the cost. He found it
requisite to act the part of a skilful and experienced operator, not
that of a conceited empiric; to have the bandage and the liniment ready
before resorting to the scalpel and caultering iron. After taking the
most enlightened view of the subject, regarding it in all its aspects
and bearings, he came to the conclusion, that the only feasible method
which would both ensure the safety of the body politic, and preserve
inviolate their domestic institutions, was a gradual disengagement.
Hence he sought by every available means, through the press by his
touching and eloquent descriptions, by night and by day, to secure the
introduction of a provision to that effect, in a new constitution, then
under consideration for adoption. Happy would it have been for Kentucky
had she listened to the entreaties of her son in this behalf, for
slavery would have long since ceased to blacken her borders. His humane
efforts were not, however, successful; a majority of the members of the
convention being opposed to the provision. It cannot be doubted that
Mr. Clay very clearly foresaw that the contest would thus terminate,
possessing as he did accurate knowledge of the state of the public
mind, in relation to the subject of slavery; hence our surprise and
admiration. It is not more certain that his efforts were earnest and
vigorous in defence of the measure, than that they were prompted by
disinterested motives. The nature of his circumstances at this period
is such as to render it certain that he did not stop to estimate the
consequences of defeat, either to his popularity or his purse; in short,
that so far as personality was concerned, ‘_cui bono_’ was neither in
his mind nor on his lips. How ridiculously absurd then, in the light of
such abundant evidence to the contrary, the assertions of his enemies,
that he was actuated by selfish motives, by an inordinate desire to
attract attention. There was no ground for such a desire. In Kentucky,
at least, his popularity would hardly admit of augmentation, and daily,
and almost hourly the testimonials of approbation lavished upon him,
and the high appreciation of his character, his services, and his
talents, cannot be enumerated. Though defeated, he was not discouraged
nor disheartened. Conscious that his action had been in accordance with
his conviction of duty, he derived great consolation from the fact, and
girded himself to do battle again for the same principle in a different

Mr. Clay was a lover of Liberty, not exclusively on account of any
particular advantages her possession might confer, but on account of
her own intrinsic loveliness and inalienability. In looking at his
political career, we find that his most gigantic efforts were put forth
whenever he discovered a disposition to abridge her lawful exercise.
It seems to have been even at its commencement a settled principle
with him, to resist oppression under whatever form presented. This he
discovered in the odious Alien and Sedition laws, enacted in 1798–9.
These were anathematised by the democracy of the country, as hostile
to our institutions, involving an unwarrantable assumption of power,
manifestly unconstitutional, savoring strongly of tyrannical usurpation,
and not to be tolerated. The Alien law empowered the president to
command any alien whom he should judge dangerous to the peace and
safety of the country, to depart out of the territory within such time
as he should specify, under penalty of being imprisoned for a time
not exceeding three years. The Sedition law was intended to guard
against the abuse of speech and of the press. Besides subjecting to
imprisonment, it imposed a heavy pecuniary fine, on such as combined,
conspired, or united, to oppose any governmental measure,――who should
utter, write, print, publish, &c., any false, and scandalous, and
malicious writing, against the government of the United States or
the president, &c. The appearance of these laws was greeted with one
general outburst of indignation, from one end of the land to the other,
but in no section was the expression of disapprobation more strongly
marked or prompt than in Kentucky. In the front rank of those who
opposed them stood young Clay, dealing blows so thick and heavy with
the ponderous battle-axe of his eloquence, as to drive his foes in
disorder and dismay from the field of political strife.

It is related that on one occasion the people had assembled in a
large crowd in a grove near Lexington, to listen to a discussion
to come off between the advocates and opposers of these laws. The
greatest interest had been awakened, extensive preparation made by
the combatants, and with the most inflammatory zeal they entered the
lists. The assemblage was first addressed by Mr. George Nicholas, a
gentleman of distinguished ability and commanding eloquence. His effort
is represented as having been one of great vigor, and characterized by
that logical and philosophical acumen, for which he was so celebrated.
When he ceased, the populace, wrought up to the highest degree of
enthusiasm, poured out their rapturous applause. ‘Clay,’ ‘Clay,’ was
now loudly called from all directions, and as he ascended the stand,
it was clearly perceptible by his eagle eye and compressed lips that
no ordinary emotions were struggling in his bosom. As the spirit of
the tempest finds the ocean when he descends in his mightiest energy,
so he found the boisterous mass swelling to and fro like the surges
of the deep. But he was at home doing his legitimate work, pouring the
oil of eloquence over a turbulent sea of passion, until its tumultuous
heavings subsided and left one quiet, calm, and unruffled surface. The
subject in his hands appeared in a new light, and he soon succeeded
in securing for it that attention which is accompanied with feelings
too deep for utterance: like those experienced by one standing on the
edge of a crater, gazing down into its fiery abyss. His predecessor
had poured a flood of sunshine over the multitude, which caused those
heartfelt, spontaneous out-gushings of joyful emotion, which are its
usual comcomitants. But his office was that of the lightning’s flash
and thunder peal, hushing, awing, and subduing. When he closed there
were no clamorous expressions, no deafening shouts of applause, but
something far more significant he read in the quivering lips, indignant
looks, and frowning brows around him; and heard, in the deep low growl
that came up, a much more flattering tribute to his talents. He was
followed by Mr. William Murray, an orator of great popularity, and well
qualified to exhibit acceptably the merits of those laws, if indeed
they possessed any. His efforts, however, were futile. The conviction
of their pernicious tendency had been planted too deep in the minds
of the people by Mr. Clay, to permit them to listen to their merits,
or to allow them to believe that they had any. He would not have been
suffered to proceed had not the previous speakers urgently solicited
permission. Another attempt was made to reply, but the people could
be restrained no longer, and made a furious rush towards the place
occupied by the speaker, who was compelled to make a precipitate
retreat to escape personal violence. They now seized Nicholas and
Clay, bore them on their shoulders to a carriage, and amid the most
enthusiastic cheering, drew them through the streets of Lexington. A
proud day was this for Mr. Clay; a day in which he earned a far more
glorious title than any that royal hands could confer upon him, that of
the ‘great commoner.’ It was the first of the bright days of the years
of his fame――the sure precursor of that unfading chaplet which time was
destined to bind about his brow.

In 1803, Mr. Clay, in company with several of his personal friends,
was spending several weeks at the Olympian Springs, in Bath county, for
the benefit of his health, and during that time there was an election
of members to the legislature. His friends, without his knowledge, and
as appears contrary to his wishes, brought him forward as a candidate.
The prospect of his election was not very flattering; indeed, it
seemed to be impossible. Several candidates who were veterans in
the business, had occupied the field sometime in advance of him, and
besides electioneering warmly for themselves, employed the influence
of powerful friends. Though he ran very well at the commencement, it
was thought that he was somewhat behind. His opponents, besides using
every legitimate, resorted to unfair means to accomplish his defeat,
reporting that he was incapacitated for the office by ill health;
that he did not desire, neither would accept it. Such measures in all
probability would have been successful, had not his opportune return
before the canvass had progressed very far, furnished occular proof
of the falsehood of these assertions, and enabled him to counteract
the influence of the slanderous reports put in circulation. It was
repugnant to his feelings, contrary to his exalted ideas of honor, and
did not comport with the dignity of the office to set forth personally
his claims and qualifications. But yielding to the entreaties of his
friends, and urged also by the base subterfuges and low intrigues
every where practiced to defeat his election, he consented to enter the
arena, and right well did he acquit himself, as the sequel will show.
His remarks were few, exceedingly pertinent, conveying to the electors
his views of state policy, refuting such of the reports as were
false, and admitting such as were true: to wit, that he was young and
inexperienced, that he had not proclaimed himself a candidate, nor
sought their suffrage; but since his friends had seen proper to place
his name before the people, it would be gratifying to them if he could
be elected. While thus engaged in stump speaking, as it is termed in
Kentucky, an incident occurred which it may not be amiss to relate.
It illustrates his tact and ingenuity in seizing and turning to good
account trivial circumstances, for which he is so celebrated, and to
which he is indebted for the enviable title of being great in little
things. He had been engaged in speaking some time, when a company of
riflemen, who had been performing military exercise, attracted by his
attitude, concluded to go and hear what that fellow had to say, as they
termed it, and accordingly drew near. They listened with respectful
attention and evidently with deep interest, until he closed, when one
of their number, a man about fifty years of age, who had evidently
seen much backwoods service, stood leaning on his rifle, regarding the
young speaker with a fixed and most sagacious look. He was apparently
the Nimrod of the company, for he exhibited every characteristic of
a mighty hunter,――buckskin breeches and hunting-shirt, coon-skin cap,
black bushy beard, and a visage which, had it been in juxtaposition
with his leathern bullet pouch, might have been taken for part and
parcel of the same. At his belt hung the knife and hatchet, and the
huge indispensable powder-horn across a breast bare and brown as the
bleak hills he often traversed, yet which concealed as brave and noble
a heart as ever beat beneath a fairer covering. He beckoned with his
hand to Mr. Clay to approach him, who immediately complied. ‘Young
man,’ said he, ‘you want to go to the legislature, I see?’ ‘Why, yes,’
replied Mr. Clay, ‘yes, I should like to go, since my friends have seen
proper to put me up as a candidate before the people; I do not wish to
be defeated.’ ‘Are you a good shot?’ ‘The best in the country.’ ‘Then
you shall go; but you must give us a specimen of your skill; we must
see you shoot.’ ‘I never shoot any rifle but my own, and that is at
home.’ ‘No matter, here is old Bess, she never fails in the hands of
a marksman; she has often sent death through a squirrel’s head one
hundred yards, and daylight through many a red skin twice that distance;
if you can shoot any gun you can shoot old Bess.’ ‘Well, put up your
mark, put up your mark,’ replied Mr. Clay. The target was placed at
the distance of about eighty yards, when, with all the coolness and
steadiness of an old experienced marksman, he drew old Bess to his
shoulder and fired. The bullet pierced the target near the centre.
‘Oh, a chance shot! a chance shot!’ exclaimed several of his political
opponents. ‘A chance shot! He might shoot all day and not hit the
mark again; let him try it over, let him try it over.’ ‘No; beat that,
beat that, and then I will,’ retorted Mr. Clay. But as no one seemed
disposed to make the attempt, it was considered that he had given
satisfactory proof of being the best shot in the county; and this
unimportant incident gained him the vote of every hunter and marksman
in the assembly, which was composed principally of that class of
persons, as well as the support of the same throughout the county. The
most remarkable feature respecting the whole transaction is yet to be
told. Said Mr. Clay, ‘I had never before fired a rifle, and have not
since.’ The result of the election proved Mr. Clay much more popular
than it had been supposed he was; he was elected almost by acclamation.
Our astonishment may well be excited, when we consider that this
was the first time that he was a candidate for an office, and the
circumstances under which it took place. It must be certain that he was
esteemed a young man of great promise and ability. That confidence he
seems so early to have inspired he has ever retained, and it is a no
less just than flattering tribute to his worth, that where he is known
best, there he is esteemed the most. This appears from the fact that
the citizens of Fayette county have never refused him an office when
brought forward by his friends as a candidate.

At the time of his election to this, his first office, the public mind
was much agitated in reference to the Lexington Insurance Company.
Felix Grundy, a political partizan of great eminence, had proclaimed
himself hostile to its existence, and expressed his intention to move
the repeal of its charter. This question was brought to bear directly
on the election, and as the views of Mr. Clay were known to be opposed
to his, he was selected to advocate the claims of the institution. The
attempt made during the ensuing session to procure the repeal of the
incorporating law was easily defeated by him, but in the succeeding
one Mr. Grundy himself was a member, and a majority of the House
came pledged to support the measures advocated by him. Argument in
such a state of things it was thought would avail little; for the
representative, feeling bound to obey the will of his constituents,
would be compelled to vote for the repeal, although convinced of its
injustice. The debate that ensued was one of great ability, conducted
by Mr. Clay and Mr. Grundy, and attracted crowds of spectators. They
were both young, aspiring after forensic honors, and both eloquent. Mr.
Grundy, though wily, shrewd, and a good political manager; in strength
of argument, force, and felicity of illustration, and the faculty of
setting his subject in a strong light before his hearers, was evidently
inferior to his antagonist. Mr. Grundy at first waged an aggressive
war, and with great boldness and vigor demolishing his enemy’s outposts,
pushed his way far into his country. Elated with success, and the ease
with which he overcame all opposition, he imagined victory already
achieved. But he was destined to be checked midway in his brilliant
career, to encounter his enemy’s strong _corps de reserve_. The contest
is represented as having exhibited a scene of eloquent sublimity,
seldom witnessed or surpassed. Mr. Grundy had marshalled his forces
with the skill of a veteran, and flanked by powerful auxiliaries, was
proceeding in the utmost regularity, and as he thought with absolute
certainty, to strike the last decisive blow. A phalanx thus appointed,
led on by such a general, seemed invincible, and indeed was, if any
could be in such a conflict. Up to the time of the grand onslaught,
Mr. Clay seemed to be regardless of the operations of his adversary.
He was, however, silently engaged in collecting and arranging his
resources, and treasuring his energies for the final hour; and when
it came he arose and hurled them at the heads of his mighty foe
and emissaries as the avalanche hurls his ice-mount, or the volcano
his scathing flood of flame. Mr. Grundy’s struggle to maintain his
ground was desperate, but short, for no force could do it under such
circumstances; and, finding himself borne backwards by the impetuosity
of his assailant, he attempted to effect an honorable retreat. In this
he failed, and was finally compelled to surrender.

Although the measure passed the house, the senate, whose members had
listened to the discussion, without any efforts, pro or con, refused
most unanimously to sustain it; and thus the company, through the
efforts of its vindicator, was suffered to retain its charter.

An event occurred during the session of 1805, highly illustrative of
the versatility of Mr. Clay’s genius. An attempt was made to obtain the
removal of the capitol from Frankfort. Mr. Clay, in a speech delivered
at the time, reverted to the peculiar physical appearance of the place,
as furnishing an argument in favor of the proposed removal. Frankfort
is walled in on all sides by towering rocky precipices, and not unlike
a vast pit. It presents, said Mr. Clay, the model of an inverted hat.
Frankfort is the body of the hat, and the lands adjacent are the brim.
To change the figure, it is nature’s great penitentiary; and if the
members would know the bodily condition of the prisoners, let them look
at those poor creatures in the gallery. As he said this he directed
their attention to some half a dozen emaciated, spectre-like specimens
of humanity, who happened to be moping about there, looking as though
they had just stolen a march from the grave-yard. On observing the
eyes of the house thus turned towards them, and aware of their ghostly
aspect, they screened themselves with such ridiculous precipitancy
behind the pillars and railing as to cause the most violent laughter.
This well-directed effort at wit and humor was completefully successful,
and the house gave their votes in favor of the measure. The resolution,
however, was never carried into effect, as it was found impossible to
agree upon a new location. It would be difficult, and perhaps not
particularly desirable, to follow Mr. Clay through all the various and
numerous services rendered by him in the legislature of Kentucky. We
shall give an outline only of them, presenting such specimens as shall
illustrate the leading characteristics of his mind, and dwell longer
on that portion of his history which regards him as connected with the
management of the affairs of the nation. While acting in the capacity
of a state legislator, he was distinguished for zeal in prosecuting
his professional labors, which soon conducted him to the summit of that
lofty legal eminence, far above the murky regions of pettifoggery and
low intrigue. Here, surrounded by an atmosphere redolent of judicial
purity, and seated fast by the throne of Justice, he exerted himself
to preserve inviolate the sanctity of her temple, and to see that
her decisions were rigidly and impartially enforced. He particularly
delighted, on the one hand, to procure her favors for the poor and
obscure, in facilitating the approach to her courts of those who
by poverty or oppression were debarred access; and on the other, to
oppose the unjust prosecutor. No bribe could induce him to countenance,
directly or indirectly, his designs. While acting under the influence
of these most noble principles, he became engaged in an unpleasant
affair of honor. It appears that Col. Joseph Hamilton Daviess, district
attorney of the United States, had struck an inn-keeper in Frankfort,
who had made some remark offensive to him; the inn-keeper endeavored to
obtain legal reparation for the wound his honor had sustained, and for
that purpose applied for a writ. This was readily obtained, but owing
to the high standing and influence of the accused, no lawyer could
be found who was willing to conduct the prosecution. In this state of
things, after consulting with his friends he wrote a letter to Mr. Clay,
detailing the facts in the case, and soliciting his aid. He promptly
sent a reply, in which he consented to act as his attorney. The suit
was brought at Lexington, and Mr. Clay, whose sympathetic feelings
were warmly interested in behalf of his client, vindicated him from the
rude and unreasonably harsh treatment which he received at the hands of
Mr. Daviess, who was his own attorney. Mr. Clay’s strictures were keen
and cutting to such an extent, that Col. Daviess, at a pause in the
trial, sent Mr. Clay a note, couched in not very civil, and somewhat
threatening terms, warning him to desist from such bitter remarks. Mr.
Clay replied that he should conduct his client’s case as his judgment
prompted, uninfluenced and unawed from any source――least of all from
his client’s antagonist. At the close of the trial Col. Daviess sent
him a challenge to single combat, which he accepted. Subsequently the
affair was settled, through the mutual interference of the friends of
both parties, and the most cordial friendship existed between them till
the death of Col. Daviess, who was killed at the battle of Tippecanoe.

Near the close of 1806 Mr. Clay received an application from Aaron
Burr to appear in his behalf. Burr had been arrested on a charge of
being engaged in illegal military operations. The popular mind was much
agitated by the belief of his treasonable designs, founded on various
rumors of his projected invasion of the Mexican provinces, in which
the whole western territory was implicated. While these rumors were
occasioning much public anxiety, two men, named John Wood and J. M.
Street, arrived from Virginia and located at Frankfort. Their object
seemed to be to publish a weekly paper, which they styled the ‘Western
World,’ in which they revived an old political controversy which had
slumbered nearly twenty years. The subject of the rumors was also
introduced into its columns, and several statements made in reference
thereto, which seemed, if true, to make out the evidence of treason
and conspiracy as more than probable. They were however, for the
most part assumptive, and not substantiated by any well authenticated
testimony, besides appearing under a very questionable character, being
contained in communications over the signature of ‘an observer.’ It
was subsequently ascertained that these were written by one of the most
violent federalists of the day――notorious for his antipathy toward the
democratic party, of which at that time Mr. Burr was a distinguished
member. His name was Humphrey Marshall. He and his emissaries, to
accomplish their purposes, resorted to the most base and dishonorable
means. In an address prepared by Mr. Marshall, he reiterated the
statements of ‘an observer,’ of which he himself was the author, and
also charged the leading members of the Jefferson party in Kentucky,
among whom were Mr. Clay’s most intimate friends, with the treasonable
design of annexing that state to the Spanish dominions in North America.
The address was laid before the legislature, who investigated the
matter; but not succeeding in eliciting any thing to corroborate the
charges made, it was dropped. The public mind was wrought up to a high
degree of indignation at these attempts to ruin some of the most worthy
and talented men in the community. While the public was still under
the influence of the sympathetic feelings excited in behalf of those
against whom such gross accusations had been made, Mr. Burr was charged
with a conspiracy of more recent date, and in course was regarded
with the same sympathy extended to those previously criminated. He was
esteemed a persecuted patriot, and his innocence was matter of popular
belief. It was thought pretty generally, that his arrest originated
in deep-rooted prejudice existing in the mind of colonel Daviess, the
district attorney, a warm admirer of colonel Alexander Hamilton, who
was killed in a duel by Mr. Burr. There was good ground for believing
that the attorney was prompted more by revengeful feelings than a
desire of promoting the administration of justice. During the same year,
soon after Mr. Burr had returned from New Orleans, the public mind was
again inflamed by the ‘observer,’ which contained statements of such a
nature as to direct the attention of the district attorney to Mr. Burr,
whose arrest he attempted to procure, but without success. Mr. Burr
witnessed the proceedings, and in a speech which he made at the time,
alluded to them, which he characterized as harsh and oppressive in the
extreme, expressing himself perfectly willing, and indeed soliciting to
be tried by an unprejudiced court. His dignified deportment, and fair,
open proposition, caused the popular feeling to be deeply enlisted in
his favor. His request was granted, a jury chosen, and a day appointed
for trial. When it arrived, universal surprise was created by the novel
and very unusual course pursued by Col. Daviess. He moved the discharge
of the jury in consequence of an important witness being absent. He
succeeded, to the great regret of Mr. Burr, who was desirous of placing
the whole business before a competent and impartial judicial tribunal.

The attorney, some months subsequent, imagined himself warranted in
resuming the prosecution. The second day of December was appointed for
the trial. On the day previous Mr. Burr addressed a note to Mr. Clay,
soliciting his aid, of which the following is an extract. ‘I have no
design nor have I taken any measure to promote a dissolution of the
Union, or a separation of any one or more states from the residue. I
have neither published a line on this subject, nor has any one, through
my agency or with my knowledge. I have no design to intermeddle with
the government or to disturb the tranquillity of the United States,
or of its territories, or any part of them. I have neither given, nor
signed, nor promised a commission to any person for any purpose. I
do not own a musket, nor bayonet, nor any single article of military
stores; nor does any person for me, by my authority, or with my
knowledge. My views have been fully explained to, and approved by,
several of the principal officers of government, and I believe are well
understood by the administration, and seen by it with complacency. They
are such as every man of honor, and every good citizen must approve.
Considering the high station you now fill in our national councils,
I have thought these explanations proper as well to counteract the
chimerical tales which malevolent persons have so industriously
circulated, as to satisfy you that you have not espoused the cause of a
man in any way unfriendly to the laws, the government, or the interests
of his country.’

Mr. Burr was doubtless aware of the scruples felt by Mr. Clay
respecting the propriety of acting as his counsel, which scruples were
occasioned principally by the new and interesting relation just assumed
by him――that of United States senator. Mr. Clay’s doubts were satisfied,
and he consented to appear at his trial as his attorney, in connection
with Col. John Allen. To them Mr. Burr in the expectation of securing
their services, had previously sent a large sum of money, which they
declined receiving, and returned to him. The day appointed for trial at
length arrived, and again the attorney sought to delay the proceedings
of the court, on the ground of the absence of an important witness.
Mr. Clay strenuously contended that such tardy procedure, where such
interests were involved, and where the most speedy action was requisite,
was unsanctioned by correct judicial usage; that the accused was
sustaining material injury in consequence of the obstacles thus thrown
in the way of his establishing his innocence, which he was impatiently
and anxiously waiting to do. Mr. Clay’s representations succeeded. The
attorney was required by the court to proceed immediately. Accordingly
all the evidence he could produce was spread before the grand jury,
who, after a patient and careful investigation, returned the indictment
accompanied with their refusal to consider it a true bill, and
reasons for the same,――alleging that the testimony contained nothing
to criminate the accused, ‘nor can we from all the inquiry and
investigation of the subject discern that any thing improper or
injurious to the government of the United States, or contrary to the
laws thereof, is designed or contemplated.’ Their decision was received
with the strongest demonstrations of approbation from all quarters,
which were exceedingly gratifying to Mr. Clay, and served to strengthen
his conviction of Mr. Burr’s innocence when he consented to act as
his counsel. It is unnecessary to say, that had he been aware of
Mr. Burr’s real designs, no inducement could have been held out by that
person strong enough to have determined him to appear in his defence.
Subsequent events show this to be true――events which removed all
doubts as to Mr. Burr’s guilt. A mass of unequivocal testimony had
been obtained, in relation to his operations upon which he had already
entered, and of his future projects, by the exertions of Mr. Jefferson,
which testimony was exhibited to Mr. Clay, at Washington, where he
repaired soon after the trial to take his seat in the senate. One of
the most remarkable and indubitable portions of the evidence alluded
to, was a letter in cipher which Mr. Burr had sent by captain Samuel
Swartwout to the commander of the United States army, general Wilkinson,
which contained a somewhat circumstantial account of his proceedings
and intended proceedings. In this he expressly stated his design of
seizing on Baton Rouge, preliminary to extending his conquests into
the Spanish provinces. Such disclosures opened the eyes of the public
to the true character of Mr. Burr, and called forth expressions of
their just indignation, in which Mr. Clay also united,――who, after an
interval of several years, for the first time subsequent to the trial,
met Mr. Burr in the city of New York. Mr. Clay was sitting in the court
room of the City Hall, when a gentleman approached and tendered him his
hand with the customary salutation. But Mr. Clay recognizing, treated
him with marked coldness and refused to receive or return the proffered
civility. Mr. Burr, however, endeavored to engage him in conversation,
congratulating him on his successful efforts at Ghent, in relation to
the treaty, and an arrangement which he and his associates had effected
with Great Britain, whereby valuable commercial advantages were secured
to America. To all his efforts at conversation Mr. Clay turned a
deaf ear, replying very briefly to his inquiries and giving him no
encouragement to proceed. On leaving, Mr. Burr requested the privilege
of a brief interview with him, who in answer, informed him where
he had taken lodgings. The colonel, however, did not call, and thus
terminated all the intercourse ever had by Mr. Clay with him. We have
thus endeavored faithfully and impartially to record all the facts
in relation to that intercourse, that the world may see and decide
upon the truth or falsehood of the charges made against Mr. Clay, in
consequence of it. How can they be tortured so as to yield any evidence
calculated to impeach his integrity? How to make it appear manifestly
wrong to act as his counsel, and to conduct that trial, the right to
which was guarantied by the constitution? But above all, how can they
be made to furnish a foundation for those cruel charges of acting in
concert with the accused, of being privy to his plans, as aiding and
abetting him, and of disrobing him of his hard, well earned, unspotted
robes of legal and political purity, and clothing him in the black
habiliments of a traitor, engaged in bartering away the liberties of
his country? But in the language of another, ‘the shaft, though aimed
with a will sufficiently deadly, fell upon a breast of steel.’ The
charge of treason preferred against a man who has done more for his
own country than any other living statesman, and whose voice has echoed
beyond her confines, and with a tone of creative power called other
republics into being, is like the other infamous calumnies that have
been propagated against the same illustrious individual, and like
them, must soon be lost amid the lumber of forgotten things. Such
conspiracies to ruin a patriot can only end in the prostration of the

                 ‘He who of old would rend the oak,
                  Dreamed not of the rebound.’

Mr. Clay’s election to the senate of the United States was for one
session only――the unexpired portion of general Adair’s term, who had
resigned his seat. Immediately after his initiation into his new office,
he engaged actively in the senatorial business. He found the senate
discussing the merits of a bill providing for the erection of a bridge
over the Potomac. Its erection was strongly desired by the inhabitants
of Washington and Alexandria, and as strongly deprecated by those
of Georgetown. Many efforts were made by both parties to secure his
services in aid of their particular predilections, but nothing definite
could be ascertained respecting his views in relation to the bill,
and he refused to commit himself by pledging his support or opposition
to it. He was not, though, indifferent to the proposed measure, but
diligently employed himself in settling in his own mind the question
of its constitutionality, and in deciding on its expediency. The result
of his investigations was the conviction that it was sanctioned by
the constitution, and a judicious measure of internal policy. He
so regarded it in a speech which he made in its favor, by which he
succeeded in producing a similar conviction in the minds of all the
members who had not pledged themselves to oppose it, and thus secured
its passage. This speech, although never reported, is represented as
one of his happiest efforts, distinguished for satire and humor, as
well as gravity and sound logical argument, indeed, as embodying all
the characteristics of a perfect specimen of eloquence. From the ground
there taken, and the first time publicly, as to what he deemed true
governmental policy, in relation to internal improvement, he has never
in a single instance receded. With proud satisfaction may the friends
of that system of which he has been justly styled ‘_the Father_,’ point
to this unparalleled example of unwavering adherence and fidelity to
principles since demonstrated to be the only permanent source of our
national prosperity. In what an interesting attitude do we behold their
originator and vindicator――a youth from Kentuckian wilds, rising up
in the midst of grave senators and hoary-headed sages, and stretching
out a timid, yet patriot-nerved arm, towards the shrine of Liberty.
He plucks from her altar a burning brand and applies it to those
inflammable materials which his genius and talents had collected around
him. The flame that followed, though bright, he did not suppose would
be seen and felt far beyond the precincts of her home. The utmost
stretch of his fancy could not present to him the cheering vision, of
the deepest recesses of the woody wilds he had left, illumined by its
benign beams――that they were destined to play around the summits of the
Alleghanies, glance across the broad prairie, blaze over the lake, and
flash along the river, penetrating every department of industrial life,
with their developing, moulding, and preserving power, until the broad
breast of our vast republic should beam bright and beautiful as the
‘brow of night.’

An anecdote is related of Mr. Clay, aptly illustrating his ability
to encounter opposition, in whatever manner presented. A senator from
Connecticut had endeavored to inspire the younger members of the senate
with a respect for him, nearly allied to awe, and to this end was
accustomed to use towards them harsh and exceedingly haughty language,
but especially to make an ostentatious display of his attainments
and his supposed superior knowledge of the subject under discussion.
Mr. Clay could ill brook his insolent looks and language, and haughty,
overbearing manner, and took occasion in his speech to hit them off,
which he did by quoting the laughable simile of Peter Pindar’s Magpie:

               ‘Thus have I seen a magpie in the street,
                A chattering bird we often meet,
                A bird for curiosity well known,
                                  With head awry,
                                  And cunning eye,
                Peep knowingly into a marrow bone.’

It would be difficult to say which was the greater, the merriment which
this sally caused, or the chagrin of the senator mentioned.

During the session an attempt was made to clothe the executive with
power to arrest and confine colonel Burr, if deemed necessary by him,
without experiencing the delays often consequent on the uncertain
operations of law. Mr. Clay did not take an active part in the
discussion that ensued, but barely recorded his vote against it. He
regarded the suspension of the act of habeas corpus, by which alone
this power could be conferred, as highly dangerous, and which could
be justified in the greatest emergency only. He thought it, however,
unadvisable to mingle in the discussion in consequence of having acted
as Mr. Burr’s counsel. The measure passed the senate, but was defeated
in the lower house.

In the month of February of the same year, Mr. Clay exerted himself
to procure an appropriation for the purpose of constructing a canal
in Kentucky, having presented a resolution to that effect. The subject
was referred to a committee, to whom as chairman he submitted a lengthy
and able report. He also brought forward a resolution to improve the
navigation of the Ohio river, which was favorably received by the
senate, and adopted with unanimity. The secretary of the treasury
also was called upon to obtain all the information he could impart and
report the same, relative to constructing canals and making such other
internal improvements as might come legitimately within the sphere
of congressional action. With what deep interest Mr. Clay regarded
the prosecution of these and kindred works, may be learned from the
phraseology of the resolutions which he introduced recommending them.
In the report before mentioned there is the following passage. ♦‘How
far is it the policy of the government to aid in works of this kind
when it has no distinct interest? Whether indeed in such a case it
has the constitutional power of patronage and encouragement, it is
not necessary to be decided in the present instance. The resolution
directing the secretary to procure information, is as follows.
‘Resolved, that the secretary of the treasury be directed to prepare
and report to the senate at their next session a plan for the
application of such means as are within the power of congress, to the
purposes of opening roads and making canals, together with a statement
of undertakings of that nature, which as objects of public improvement
may require and deserve the aid of government, and also a statement of
works of the nature mentioned, which have been commenced, the progress
which has been made in them, and the means and prospect of their being
completed, and all such information as in the opinion of the secretary
shall be material, in relation to the objects of this resolution.’ This
resolution passed almost unanimously.

At the expiration of his senatorial term the citizens of Fayette county
gave him their suffrages again for the state legislature, to which he
was elected by a majority much larger than his most sanguine friends
expected. In consequence of the part Mr. Clay had performed in the
affair of colonel Burr, his popularity sustained some diminution, which,
however, was only temporary. His enemies attempted to excite similar
feelings of odium towards him with which Mr. Burr was visited, and
partially succeeded, but which were dissipated by an address made by
Mr. Clay, in relation to his connection with him, and succeeded to such
an overwhelming extent in turning the tide of calumny directed towards
him, against his enemies, that it would have been exceedingly hazardous
for any one, in the presence of his friends, to repeat the slanderous
charges. He was elected speaker of the assembly at the next session,
although opposed by a very popular member as a candidate for the same
office. In this station he was distinguished for zeal, energy, and
decision, exhibited in discharging its duties. He would sometimes
engage in the debates of the house when a subject of unusual interest
was before it. An attempt was made during this term worthy of the dark
ages――an attempt to prohibit the reading of any British elementary work
on law, and reference to any precedent of a British court. Contrary
to what might have been expected, this monstrous proposition, this
antinomian attempt found favor in the eyes of more than four-fifths of
the members of the house, and had not Mr. Clay rushed to the rescue,
the whole system of common law, so far as Kentucky was concerned, would
have been destroyed. His timely interference averted the catastrophe.
The prohibition was advocated on the ground that it was inexpedient for
an independent nation to derive any assistance in the administration of
justice, from the legal decisions of a foreign court; especially from
those of the one in question. It cannot be doubted that the friends
of the prohibition were stimulated by ardent though somewhat bigoted
patriotism. Those deep seated feelings of repugnance towards the nation
at whose hands we had received such oppressive treatment but a few
years previous, had not yet subsided, and very naturally extended to
every thing pertaining to that nation. This fact partially apologizes
for that intemperate and inconsiderate zeal with which more than
four-fifths of the house set about demolishing what it was vitally
important should be incorporated with the fabric of our liberties,
and become a constituent part of the same. They desired to be removed
as far as possible from Great Britain, in legal as well as in other
respects, without carefully considering the effect of that removal.
This law, viewed through the distorted medium of prejudice and hatred,
seemed a huge excrescence on the body of our institutions, whose
incumbency exerted a crushing instead of a sustaining influence,
draining their energies, instead of imparting to them no inconsiderable
portion of their vitality, and instantly the axe of judicial reform was
seized by these sapient legislators for its amputation. Against this
fratricidal attempt, Mr. Clay raised his powerful arm. He had witnessed
with feelings of unfeigned regret, this rash attempt to lay violent
hands on that system with which was associated every thing valuable
and venerable in jurisprudence. That system which might justly be
styled the legal Thesaurus of the world, founded by the hand of social
exigency amid fearful convulsions, and reared by the united efforts
of the most eminent jurisconsulats the world ever saw, he endeavored
to shield against the ruthless assaults of this legislative vandalism.
He was aware that the popular opinion considered this system as
unnecessarily voluminous――an immense mixture of superfluities,
prolixities, and absurdities, unadapted to, and unneeded by, our
institutions. These erroneous apprehensions and long existing
prejudices, he combated and corrected. He demonstrated its utility
by a lucid exposition of the beauty, symmetry, and simplicity of its
fundamental principles, and its necessity, by depicting in most glowing
colors the disastrous consequences which would inevitably follow its
destruction. Fearing, however, that the resolution would pass, he
met its supporters in the spirit of compromise, and moved so to amend
it, that the prohibition should extend to those decisions only, that
had been given since the fourth day of July, 1776. His reasons for
permitting those to remain, which were given previous to that period,
were as convincing as they were sensible. He argued that up to the time
of the declaration of independence, the laws of the one nation were
those of the other, and that therefore the adoption of the primary
resolution would be in effect abolishing our own laws. He is said to
have given on this occasion, one of the most splendid specimens of
elocution ever witnessed. A gentleman who was present describes it
as a perfect model. ‘Every muscle of the orator’s face was at work;
his whole body seemed agitated, as if each part was instinct with a
separate life; and his small white hand, with its blue veins apparently
distended almost to bursting, moved gracefully, but with all the energy
of rapid and vehement gesture. The appearance of the speaker seemed
that of a pure intellect, wrought up to its mightiest energies, and
brightly glowing through the thin and transparent veil of flesh that
enrobed it.’ His control over his auditory was most absolute and
astonishing――now bathing them in tears, and now convulsing them
with laughter, causing them to alternate between hope and fear, love
and hate, at his bidding. When he concluded, scarcely a vestige of
opposition remained, and the amended resolution was adopted almost by
acclamation. While the prominence, which this and similar efforts gave
Mr. Clay, was a source of satisfaction to him, and gratification to his
friends, it was attended with the unpleasant effect of exposing him to
the keenest shafts of his political enemies. In the year 1808 he was
most violently assailed by Humphrey Marshall, an ultra federalist, a
man of talents and eloquence. He let no opportunity pass unimproved to
give vent to his rancorous feelings toward Mr. Clay, and indeed towards
all the prominent supporters of Mr. Jefferson’s administration. He had
repeatedly attacked Mr. Clay through the press, but now, being a member
of the legislature, was enabled to make them in person. Mr. Clay’s
friends, desirous of bringing them together, made arrangements to this
effect, by not re-electing him speaker. Mr. Marshall seemed anxious to
measure weapons with Mr. Clay; following him in all his movements, and
opposing him at every turn. In the early part of the session, Mr. Clay
placed several resolutions before the house, relating to the embargo
and British orders in council, remonstrating against the arbitrary
demands of that nation, and pledging Kentucky to action, ♦conformable
to the decisions of the general government in relation thereto. They
recognized Mr. Jefferson’s policy as sound, approved his measures, and
pronounced him entitled to the thanks of his country, for the ability,
uprightness, and intelligence which he displayed in the management,
both of our foreign relations and domestic concerns. Mr. Marshall
endeavored to procure their amendment, so as to condemn the embargo,
and reprobate, without stint or measure, Mr. Jefferson’s administration.
Their rejection was most emphatic, by a vote of sixty-four to one――he
voting in their favor,――and Mr. Clay’s were adopted by the same vote.
But the vials of Mr. Marshall’s fiercest and most vituperative wrath
were reserved for the occasion when Mr. Clay stood up in defence of
his favorite policy, of affording protection to domestic industry,
by introducing a resolution, declaring that it was expedient for each
member of the house, for the purpose of giving unequivocal evidence
of his attachment to this principle, to clothe himself in fabrics of
domestic manufacture. This patriotic attempt was not only denounced by
his foe as demagogic, and prompted by motives of the most inordinate
and grasping ambition; but leaving the resolution, he attacked its
author in genuine billingsgate style. Utterly regardless of every rule
of gentlemanly courtesy, parliamentary propriety, or common decency
even, he exhausted the vocabulary in search of opprobious and insulting
epithets, which he applied in the spirit of the most liberal abuse.
Such foul and unmerited treatment could not be quietly borne by a
person of Mr. Clay’s ardent and sensitive temperament, and he rebuked
him in language deservedly harsh, and calculated to sting him to the
quick. The quarrel progressed until it reached that stage where Mr.
Clay considered himself bound, according to Kentuckian interpretation
of the law of honor, to challenge Mr. Marshall to meet him and settle
it in single combat. It was accepted, and the parties, pursuant to
appointment, met and exchanged two or three shots, resulting in a
slight wound to each. The duel was terminated by the interference
of the seconds, who protested against its further procedure.

In 1809, a case of contested election came before the legislature,
in the settlement of which, Mr. Clay acted a conspicuous part. The
electors of Hardin county had given four hundred and thirty-six votes
for Charles Helm, three hundred and fifty for Samuel Haycroft, and two
hundred and seventy-one for John Thomas, two of whom were entitled to
seats. It appeared that Mr. Haycroft, at the time of the election, held
an office, which, according to the constitution of Kentucky, rendered
him ineligible to a seat in the general assembly. Mr. Clay submitted
his views of the case, in a report prepared by him, as chairman of a
committee appointed in accordance with a motion made by him to inquire
whether Mr. Haycroft was entitled to a seat, and if not, to decide on
the claims of Mr. Thomas to one. This report was adopted unanimously,
and has since constituted the rule in similar cases in Kentucky. Its
doctrines are so sound, and at the same time so simple, that we cannot
forbear inserting an extract. ‘The fact being ascertained that Mr.
Haycroft held an office of profit under the commonwealth at the time
of the election, the constitutional disqualification attaches and
excludes him; he was ineligible and therefore cannot be entitled to
his seat. It remains to inquire into the pretensions of Mr. Thomas.
His claim can only be supported by a total rejection of the votes
given to Mr. Haycroft, as void to all intents whatever. It is not
pretended that they were given by persons not qualified according to
the constitution, and consequently, if rejected it must be not for any
inherent objection in themselves, but because they have been bestowed
in a manner forbidden by the constitution or laws. By an act passed
18th of December, 1800, it is required that persons holding offices
incompatible with a seat in the legislature, shall resign them before
they are voted for; and it is provided that all votes given to any such
person prior to such resignation shall be utterly void. This act, when
applied to the case in question, perhaps admits of the construction
that the votes given to Mr. Haycroft, though void and ineffectual in
creating any right in him to a seat in the house, cannot affect in
any manner the situation of his competitor. Any other exposition of
it is, in the opinion of your committee, wholly inconsistent with the
constitution, and would be extremely dangerous in practice. It would be
subversive of the great principle of free government that the majority
shall prevail. It would operate as a deception of the people, for it
cannot be doubted that the votes given to Mr. Haycroft were bestowed
upon a full persuasion that he had a right to receive them. And it
would infringe the rights of this house, guarantied by the constitution,
to judge of the qualifications of its members. It would, in fact, be
a declaration that disqualification produces qualification――that the
incapacity of one man capacitates another to hold a seat in this house.
Your committee are therefore unanimously and decidedly of opinion
that neither of the gentlemen is entitled to a seat.’ This act closed
his career in the legislature of Kentucky, to which he tendered his
resignation soon after. He was elected to the senate of the United
States for two years――the unexpired portion of Mr. Buckner Thurston’s
term, who had resigned his seat in that body. During Mr. Clay’s
continuance in the legislature, he had produced the deepest impression
of his ability and talents, and won the favor of his associates, to
what extent may be determined from the fact of their selecting him
for the office before named, by a vote of two thirds. He retired,
accompanied with their expressions of sincere regret for his loss,
and high estimate of his services. The annals of Kentucky present
no brighter spot than that which in imperishable characters records
his name. It is the oasis of her history, verdant and beautiful,
begirt with the wreath of his noble deeds, brilliant with the gems of
benevolence, philanthropy and patriotism.

The manner in which he discharged his duties while connected with her
legislature, is forcibly described by one intimately acquainted with
him. ‘He appears to have been the pervading spirit of the whole body.
He never came to the debates without the knowledge necessary to the
perfect elucidation of his subject, and he always had the power of
making his knowledge so practical, and lighting it so brightly up
with the fire of eloquence, and the living soul of intellect, that
without resorting to the arts of insidiousness, he could generally
control the movements of the legislature at will. His was not an undue
influence; it was the simple ascendency of mind over mind. The bills
which originated with him, instead of being characterized by the
eccentricities and ambitious innovations which are too often visible
in the course of young men of genius suddenly elevated to power and
influence, were remarkable only for their plain common sense, and their
tendency to advance the substantial interests of the state. Though he
carried his plans into effect by the aid of the magical incantations of
the orator, he always conceived them with the coolness and discretion
of a philosopher. No subject was so great as to baffle his powers,
none so minute as to elude them. He could handle the telescope and
the microscope with equal skill. In him the haughty demagogues of
the legislature found an antagonist who never failed to foil them in
their bold projects, and the intriguers of lower degree were baffled
with equal certainty whenever they attempted to get any petty measure
through the house for their own personal gratification or that of their
friends. The people, therefore, justly regarded him as emphatically
their own.’

In the winter of 1809–10, soon after he took his seat the second time
in the senate, his attention was turned towards a subject kindred to
that to which it had been directed when he first became a member of
that body――that of domestic manufactures. It is a remarkable fact,
that the first two subjects which demanded and secured his aid on
entering congress, were those of primary importance to the welfare
of the republic――subjects subsequently shown, in the unillusive light
of experience, to be not only as intimately connected with private as
with public prosperity, but as constituting the very _lungs of Liberty
herself_, generating and diffusing copious alimental streams to every
organ and member of her body, thus producing that health and vigor
whereby she was enabled to extend proper encouragement and protection
to all her children. Up to this period but little thought, and less
action had been bestowed by government upon the subject of domestic
manufactures, and the light duties imposed on articles of foreign
growth and manufacture, were for the purpose of raising a revenue, and
not intended to afford any protection or encouragement to any branch of
domestic industry. Our country, instead of putting her young, muscular
hands vigorously forth, and from her own inexhaustible resources
constructing such articles as she needed, sat still in the same supine
attitude of abject dependence on Great Britain which she was in when
the war of the revolution commenced, stretching them out to foreign
artificers, and receiving those articles at their hands. How long she
might have remained in this inglorious position, it is difficult to
determine, had not her relations with that nation assumed an aspect so
threatening and belligerent, as to alarm and induce her to withdraw and
employ them in her own protection. Now the increasing prospect of war
served in some degree to arouse the nation from that lethargic state of
indifference in which it had so long slumbered. At least it was deemed
advisable to anticipate such an event, by making provision for the
materials usually needed in such an emergency. Accordingly a bill was
introduced to appropriate a sum of money to purchase cordage, sail
cloths, and the ordinary munitions of war, and so amended as to give
preference to articles of domestic growth and manufacture, provided
the interests of the nation should not suffer thereby. Mr. Lloyd, a
senator from Massachusetts, moved to strike out the amendment granting
the preference, and supported his motion by a long and powerful speech.
A general and interesting discussion ensued, in which the policy of
extending direct protection by the government to domestic manufactures
was considered. Mr. Clay was among the first to avow himself decidedly
in favor of the policy, and by his speech made at the time proved
both its expediency and wisdom. His remarks were plain and practical,
chiefly confined to statements of facts, with brief comments, yet so
philosophically and skilfully arranged as to produce their intended
effect. In the course of his observations, he alluded to that
preference generally given in our country to articles of foreign
production, by saying, that ‘a gentleman’s head could not withstand
the influence of the solar heat unless covered with a London hat; his
feet could not bear the pebbles or the frost unless protected by London
shoes; and the comfort and ornament of his person was consulted only
where his coat was cut out by the shears of a tailor _just from London_.
At length, however, the wonderful discovery has been made that it
is not absolutely beyond the reach of American skill and ingenuity
to produce these articles, combining with equal elegance greater
durability. And I entertain no doubt that in a short time the no less
important fact will be developed, that the domestic manufactures of the
United States, fostered by government, and aided by household exertions,
are fully competent to supply us with at least every necessary article
of clothing. I, therefore, _for one_, (to use the fashionable cant of
the day,) am in favor of _encouraging them_; not to the extent to which
they are carried in England, but to such an extent as will redeem us
entirely from all dependence on foreign countries.’

Mr. Clay exposed the fallacy of the specious reasoning of Mr.Lloyd
and other members hostile to the measure, who based their opposition
on the ground of the bad practical tendency of a system of domestic
manufactures fostered by government; and in illustration of which
they cited the wretched and most famished condition of the operatives
of Manchester, Birmingham, and other manufacturing cities of Great
Britain. They maintained that the introduction of such a system
into America would be attended with the same sad consequences――that
these were the natural results of such a system, surrounded by such
governmental encouragement, and inseparably connected with it. Mr. Clay
in reply declared that this was a _non sequiter_――that although such
consequences might be, and doubtless were _incidental_ to such a system,
it by no means followed that they were unavoidably and inevitably
consequent upon it under all circumstances. The case instanced, he
said, furnished no proof to that effect,――that the deplorable condition
of the manufacturing districts of Great Britain had not been, neither
could be satisfactorily accounted for in the manner attempted. It was
not attributable to the fact of their being manufacturing districts――to
the existence of that system which they were then considering, but _to
the abuse of that system_. That it would be just as philosophical and
logical, in view of the excruciating sufferings of the gormandizer,
to conclude that the invariable tendency of food when introduced into
the stomach is deleterious, as to adduce the squalor and wretchedness
of England’s manufacturing population as proof positive of the
pernicious tendency of the system under which they operated. This was
not sufficiently restricted. It was too grasping――intended to make
her the manufacturing monopolist of the world, and so shaped as to
shut out effectually all rivalry. To this grand, distinctive feature of
that system the evil in question could be directly traced――an evil that
would be seen attendant on any vast, artificial establishment similarly
conducted, whether encouraged by public or private patronage. That the
objections, therefore, of opposing members lost all their validity when
directed towards the system itself, which they possibly might possess
when directed towards the feature mentioned, if it were not known that
this was merely conventional, and not inherent, which might be retained
or rejected at pleasure. It had not been, indeed it could not be denied,
that to this system, badly as it was organized, England was materially
indebted for that extensive developement of her natural resources which
she had made, and especially for her maratime importance. That her
literary and scientific institutions owed their permanence and eminence
mainly to it, which had diffused also streams of beneficial influence
through every part of her vast dominions. In the case of England,
throwing the broad shield of her protection around this system, two
results were witnessed, the satisfaction of her own and the world’s
wants in relation to manufactures. But it was not intended nor desired
to imitate her in this respect by carrying the principle of protection
so far. The public aid solicited for the American manufacturer was
moderate, just sufficient to enable him to supply the domestic demand
for his fabrics. The measure, even then, was most obviously one of
expedience and wisdom, and doubtless always would be; but there were
indications to render it certain that it would soon become one of
necessity. There was a strong prospect of our being deprived of our
accustomed commercial intercourse, in consequence of the arbitrary and
illegal proceedings of the belligerent nations of Europe, and that we
should be obstructed by military power from an exercise of our right
to carry the productions of our own soil to the proper market for
them. The circumstances that then surrounded the country rendered it
imperiously incumbent upon her to look to herself, and in herself,
and from her inestimably valuable raw materials make for herself such
articles as were requisite for her prosperity in peace, and protection
in war. In short, to take such measures as to forever obviate the
necessity of resorting to the workshops of the old world for them.
Mr. Clay referred to our immense natural resources, scattered in rich
and varied profusion over the land, as furnishing an argument in favor
of the policy he was advocating. In contending for our manufacturing
interests, it by no means followed, as had been intimated, that he
deemed them of paramount importance to the nation. He did not hesitate
to admit that on the culture of the soil her happiness and wealth
chiefly depended;――that here lay the mine from which her treasury
must be replenished by the hand of agriculture, if she would have an
overflowing one, and expressed his decided belief that commerce was,
and ought to be more indebted to it than to manufactures. He did not
desire the department of the plough and sickle to be encroached upon
by that of the spindle and shuttle; yet he contended that it was proper
that we should supply ourselves ‘with clothing made by our own industry,
and no longer be dependent for our very coats upon a country that
was then an envious rival, and might soon be an enemy. A judicious
American farmer in the household way,’ said he, ‘manufactures whatever
is requisite for his family. He squanders but little in the gewgaws of
Europe. He presents in epitome what the nation ought to be _in extenso_.
Their manufactures should bear the same proportion, and effect the
same object in relation to the whole community, which the part of
the household employed in domestic manufacturing bears to the whole
family.’ The view taken by Mr. Clay was so enlightened, sound and
practical, as to commend the bill to their most favorable consideration,
and induce them to adopt it as amended. The salutary effects that
flowed from it soon became apparent. The public purveyors immediately
succeeded in making arrangements for the specified articles with
American capitalists, on most advantageous terms, so that when the
storm burst upon us, as it did soon after, though not perfectly
prepared for its encounter, we were not as defenceless as we should
have been, had our dependence been placed exclusively on foreign
nations. The impetus given to domestic manufactures was astonishing,
resulting in their increase during the following year over those of the
year previous, to the amount of more than fifty millions of dollars.
Of this increase, Mr. Madison, in his message to congress the following
session, makes most favorable mention, by declaring that he felt
particular satisfaction in remarking that an interior view of the
country presented many grateful proofs of the extension of useful
manufactures; the combined product of professional occupation and
household industry. He expressed his conviction that the change which
had introduced these substitutes for supplies heretofore obtained
by foreign commerce, might, in a national view, be justly regarded
as of itself more than a recompense for those privations and losses
resulting from foreign injustice, which first suggested the propriety
of fostering them. Here then, from that system, while yet in the
germ, was gathered an antepast of that immense fruition, which it was
destined to yield, when its stately trunk had towered in symmetry and
majesty toward heaven, imparting prosperity and security to millions
of freemen, dwelling beneath its branches. But let it not be forgotten
that it is to the persevering and unremitting exertions of Henry Clay
that we are indebted for the planting and the growth of that goodly

He had scarcely ceased from his efficient labors in procuring the
adoption of the bill before mentioned, when another opportunity
presented itself for the exercise of that expansive patriotism for
which his every public act is distinguished, and one which he embraced
with his characteristic eagerness and promptitude. There was strong
prospect that the United States would be dismembered of a portion of
her territory――the large and fertile district included between the
Mississippi and Perdido Rivers, being the present states of Mississippi
and Alabama, and the territory of West Florida, or the greater part of
it. To prevent this, Mr. Clay came boldly forth, triumphing over all
opposition, and clearly vindicated her right to it. The United States
became possessed of it in 1803, when it was ceded to her by France,
with every thing appertaining just as she had received it from Spain,
who formally acquiesced in the cession in 1804. The United States, from
conciliatory motives partly, and partly in consequence of events which
they could not control, suffered it to remain in the possession of
Spain, who temporarily exercised authority over it. But her authority
was now being subverted, a large portion of the inhabitants of the
province refusing to submit to it. Reports also were rife that agents
despatched by the king of England, were actively engaged in endeavoring
to induce the people to come under British government. In this
emergency, president Madison, thinking that longer delay in taking
possession of it would expose the country to ulterior events which
might affect the rights and welfare of the Union, contravening, perhaps,
the views of both parties, endangering the tranquillity and security
of the adjoining territories, and afford fresh facilities to violations
of our revenue and commercial laws, issued his proclamation, directing
that immediate possession should be taken of the said territory.
Mr. Claiborne, governor of Orleans territory, was instructed to take
immediately the requisite steps for annexing it to that over which he
presided, and to see that the laws of the United States were rigidly
enforced, to which he yielded prompt obedience. At this conjuncture
the cry that came up from the party opposing his administration was
loud and long. They attempted to prove that this measure was not
only impolitic and uncalled for, but extremely unjust toward Spain,
intended to involve us in a war with England, who, as her ally, would
take umbrage on account of it, and that it was also unconstitutional.
The federalists, through the press, and in legislative assemblies,
represented the country as already surrounded in circumstances of
great peril in consequence of this procedure. A warm debate ensued in
congress on a bill reported by a committee to whom the proclamation was
referred, which declared that the laws then in force in the territory
of Orleans, extended and had full force to the river Perdido. Mr. Pope,
one of the committee, in a speech made at the time, explained the
grounds which induced them to make the report, and was followed by Mr.
Horsey, a senator from Delaware, in opposition. He pronounced the title
of the United States invalid, thought it inexpedient to take possession
of the territory by force, and questioned the right of the president to
issue his proclamation to that effect. He declared that document both
_war and legislation_, inasmuch as it authorized occupancy by military
force, and invested a governor with all the authorities and functions
in regard to the province in question, that he legitimately possessed
in presiding over his own. His sympathies seemed to be strongly
enlisted in behalf of the king of Spain, whose prospective loss he
deplored in language of deep commiseration. His speech was in many
respects able, but it had been much more appropriately delivered in
Madrid at the foot of the Spanish monarch’s throne, and in the presence
of his court, than at Washington, beneath the ægis of liberty, and
surrounded by patriotic and intelligent freemen. Mr. Clay regarded
with feelings of deep regret as well as surprise, this anti-republican
effort, this unnatural attempt by a son of Freedom to support the
unfounded pretensions of a foreign prince to a portion of her own
blood-bought soil,――that soil from which he drew his sustenance, and on
which were reared those institutions that constitute it an appropriate
asylum for the down-trodden of every other nation beneath the canopy of
heaven. Although laboring under a severe indisposition, he could not,
while he possessed the power of utterance, sit tamely still and listen
to such sentiments promulgated in the very temple of liberty. He rose
to reply in that graceful, dignified manner, so peculiar to himself.
As he drew up his tall form into that commanding attitude which he
was accustomed to assume as preliminary to a mighty parliamentary
effort, it could be easily discovered in his countenance, what was
the nature of his feelings, and how deep the fountain of eloquence
had been stirred within him, whose effusions, directed with unerring
precision, were soon to bear his auditory away on their resistless
tide, to the goal on which his keen eye was fixed. This speech of
Mr. Clay may justly be regarded as one of the most finished specimens
of argumentative eloquence, profound investigation, purity of diction,
and logical reasoning, that the records of any legislative body can
furnish. It evinced by its demonstrative and inferential character,
the most thorough and patient examination of the subject, in all its
minute details, and indicated most clearly his main design to be, not
a brilliant and striking display, calculated to please and captivate
the fancy, but to array before the senate a formidable front of facts,
to hem in the whole house with a wall of adamantine argument, which
could be neither scaled nor sapped; and he was completely successful.
He commenced by a brief exordium of the most caustic irony, which fell
like molten lead upon the heads of his opponents. He expressed his
admiration at the more than Aristidean justice which prompted certain
gentlemen, in a question of territorial title between the United States
and a foreign nation, to espouse the cause of the foreign, presuming
that Spain in any future negotiations, would be magnanimous enough
not to avail herself of these voluntary concessions in her favor in
the senate of the United States. He said he would leave the honorable
gentleman from Delaware to bewail the fallen fortunes of the king of
Spain, without stopping to inquire whether their loss was occasioned
by treachery or not, or whether it could be traced to any agency of
the American government. He confessed that he had little sympathy for
princes, but that it was reserved for _the people_, the great mass
of mankind, and did not hesitate to declare that the people of Spain
had it most unreservedly and most sincerely. He went into a minute
and circumstantial history of the territory in dispute, and proved by
a chain of reasoning the most clear and satisfactory, that its title
was in the United States. In doing this he adopted that mode which the
nature of the subject suggested, by a critical examination of all the
title papers, transfers, and all other documents in any way relating
or appertaining to it. He examined the patent granted by Louis the
XIV to Crozat in 1712, which patent covered the province in question,
and declared that it was at that time designated by the name of
the Province of Louisiana, and was bounded on the west by old and
new Mexico, and on the east by Carolina. This document he regarded
as settling the question beyond all doubt, that the country under
consideration was embraced within the limits of Louisiana. He proved
that it originally belonged to France, who claimed it by virtue of
certain discoveries made by La Solle and others during the seventeenth
century; that she ceded it to Spain in 1762, who retroceded it to
France in 1800, by the treaty of St. Ildefonso, and that it belonged
to the United States by purchase from her as a portion of Louisiana
in 1803. After the most thorough investigation, considering all the
ambiguous expressions unintentionally incorporated with the treaties
relating to the territory, and applying to them the most impartial
and rigid rules of construction, he presented the title of the United
States to it as most indefeasible, and as standing on a basis which
all the sophistry, and ingenuity, and ill-directed sympathy of the
opposition could not shake. He then proceeded to inquire if the
proclamation directing the occupation of property thus acquired by
solemn treaty was an unauthorized measure of war and legislation. In
this, his vindication of the course pursued by Mr. Madison was most
triumphant. He proved by citing acts of congress passed in 1803–4, that
the president was fully empowered to authorize the occupation of the
territory. He maintained that these laws furnished ♦‘a legislative
construction of the treaty correspondent with that given by the
executive, and they vest in this branch of the government indisputably
a power to take possession of the country whenever it might be
proper in his discretion; so far, therefore, from having violated the
constitution in the action he had taken and caused to be taken, he
had hardly carried out its provisions, one of which expressly enjoined
it upon him to see that the laws of the United States were faithfully
and impartially executed, in every district of country over which she
could rightfully exercise jurisdiction. After settling the questions
of title and constitutional action of the president, he proceeded to
notice some of the arguments of the opposition against taking forcible
possession, which attempted to show that war would result. ‘We are
told,’ said he, ‘of the vengeance of resuscitated Spain. If Spain,
under any modification of her government, choose to make war upon us
for the act under consideration, the nation, I have no doubt, will be
willing to meet war. But the gentleman’ (Mr. Horsey) ‘reminds us that
Great Britain, the ally of Spain, may be obliged by her connection with
Spain to take part with her against us, and to consider this measure
of the president as justifying an appeal to arms. Sir, is the time
never to arrive when we may manage our own affairs without the fear
of insulting his Britannic majesty? Is the rod of British power to
be for ever suspended over our heads? Does congress put on an embargo
to shelter our rightful commerce against the piratical depredations
committed upon it on the ocean? we are immediately warned of the
indignation of offended England. Is a law of non-intercourse proposed?
the whole navy of the haughty mistress of the seas is made to thunder
in our ears. Does the president refuse to continue a correspondence
with a minister who violates the decorum belonging to his diplomatic
character, by giving and deliberately repeating an affront to the whole
nation? we are instantly menaced with the chastisement which English
pride will not fail to inflict. Whether we assert our rights by sea
or attempt their maintenance by land――whithersoever we turn ourselves,
this phantom incessantly pursues us. Already has it had too much
influence on the councils of the nation. It contributed to the repeal
of the embargo――that dishonorable repeal which has so much tarnished
the character of our government. Mr. president, I have before said
on this floor, and now take occasion again to remark, that I most
sincerely desire peace and amity with England; that I even prefer
an adjustment of all differences with her, before one with any other
nation. But if she persist in a denial of justice to us, or if she
avails herself of the occupation of West Florida to commence war upon
us, I trust and hope that all hearts will unite in a bold and vigorous
vindication of our rights.’ The effect produced by Mr. Clay’s speech
was most obvious, inducing many of the most strenuous opposers of the
course pursued by the president, who were firmly resolved on recording
their votes in disapproval of it, to come frankly forward and candidly
to acknowledge their error, and express their determination to sustain
him in this measure. They were true to their declaration, and thus the
approval of the proclamation was secured. But ‘had there been at that
time in the senate no democratic champion like Mr. Clay――one who could
stand up among the tall and fierce spirits of faction to vindicate the
rights of our country, and utter a solemn warning in the ears of those
who would wantonly throw the key of her strength into the hands of an
enemy――it is difficult to say how imminently dangerous might have been
the present condition of the republic.’

Mr. Clay’s labors during the remainder of the session were arduous
and unremitted, as well as most valuable, to particular individuals as
well as to the nation. The discharge of his duty towards his country,
he seems ever to have considered of the most pressing importance,
and it is gladdening to the heart of every true American to witness
the disinterested, the noble and generous manner with which it was
performed. In whatever relations, and however circumstanced we find him,
we see him presenting, in this respect, one unvaried aspect. He took an
active part in all the discussions of consequence, where any important
and essential principle was involved. He was several times appointed
one of a committee, to whom matters of interest were referred. Here
he displayed accurate discrimination, soundness of judgment, and great
ability, in immediately discerning and seizing the strong points of
a subject, calculated to render conspicuous its merits or expose its
defects. He acted as chairman of a committee, to whom was recommitted a
bill, granting a right of preëmption to purchasers of public lands, in
certain cases, and reported it with amendments, which were read. After
receiving some alterations, it was again recommitted, reported, and
finally passed the senate. The cause of the poor settler and the hardy
pioneer could not have been committed to better hands――to one who would
more studiously and feelingly consult their best interests. Experience
had made him acquainted with the privations, wants, and toils, which
they were compelled to encounter, in causing the forest to recede
before their slow, fatiguing march, and this opened a wide avenue to
the fountain of his sympathetic feelings, which gushed spontaneously
forth whenever he contemplated the evils and the difficulties which
beset their path. This he exerted himself to render as smooth as
possible. Hence he early and continually advocated a most liberal
policy towards that class of his country’s yeomanry, maintaining that
she should extend to them every facility in her power, consistent with
wisdom and justice. Mr. Clay has always watched the movements of the
emigrant with feelings of almost paternal solicitude, and wherever
he has pitched his temporary tent, or made his permanent abode,
there he has exerted himself to induce his country to extend her
beneficial legislation, and to lay at his door as many of the benefits
of civilized life as possible, with their ameliorating influences. How
illiberal then, how unjust the attempts of those inimical to him, to
convert his noble benevolence into a weapon of hostility against him,
by endeavoring to procure credence for those senseless reports, which
represented him as unfriendly to the interests of the emigrant, and as
endeavoring to aggrandize himself at their expense. But time is fast
dispelling the cloud of error, which was thus raised and caused to
brood over the public mind, and the sun-light of truth is pouring in
its irradiating beams, most clearly revealing the justice and wisdom
of his advocacy, in relation to the public domain.

His attention was engrossed by other and correlative subjects soon
after――that of the protection of the hardy back-woods men and frontier
inhabitants against Indian depredations, and the regulating of
intercourse between them. He reported a bill supplementary to an act
entitled ‘an act to regulate trade and intercourse with the Indian
tribes, and to preserve peace on the frontier.’ This was placed
before a committee, of which he was chairman; and by his philanthropic
exertions and diligent labors, the whole west were laid under deep
obligations to him, for those wise measures adopted in reference to
them, whereby their interests and lives were shielded against the
predatory attack of the aborigines.

He warmly espoused the cause of the people of Orleans Territory, who
were desirous of forming a constitution and government. Accordingly,
on the twentieth of April of the same session, he succeeded in causing
such action to be taken relative to the subject, as to secure an
amendment of a bill before the senate, so as to require the laws,
records and legislative proceedings of the state, to be in the English
language. A few days subsequent, leave of absence was granted him
during the remainder of the session.

On the third day of December, 1810, the commencement of the third
session of the eleventh congress, Mr. Clay was found in his place
in the senate. A subject that had been much agitated in private many
months previous, and up to that time, was now brought forward for
public discussion――that of re-chartering the United States bank. This
was the all absorbing topic of the session, and called into exercise
Mr. Clay’s most vigorous powers. His instructions from the legislature
of Kentucky required him to oppose the re-charter of that institution,
and these were in coincidence with his own views relative to it. It
had been his design to limit his opposition to merely recording his
vote against the renewal of its charter, without entering into the
discussion which would probably ensue, but the virulent and menacing
character of the proceedings of those advocating its re-charter,
unsealed his lips, and caused him to apply the lash of his eloquence
to their backs with most tremendous effect. These embraced the whole
body of the federal, and many of the democratic party――an array of
members and strength which might have deterred any ordinary man from
confronting. Against this, he stood almost alone, deserted even by
Mr. Pope, his colleague: yet he stood firm; and, from the effect that
followed his exertions, proved himself more deserving the title of
‘Macedonian Phalanx,’ than the federal party to whom he had applied it.
The attack was provoked by that party, and it was made in the spirit
of conscious might, which not only meets opposition with the utmost
certainty of overthrowing, but which seeks it. He alluded to that
deep-seated prejudice in the public mind, against the bank, and the
foundation of that prejudice. It did not escape his notice that the
bank was created by the federal party――its warmest and most devoted
friends, then resorting to every expedient and means to prolong its
existence. He was also well aware of the aid rendered that party, by
Mr. Crawford and others, who had in this measure left the democratic
ranks and gone over to it. He referred, also, to the astounding fact,
that the institution was in reality in the hands of foreigners, since
foreign capitalists were more deeply interested in its continuance than
our own, who owned a moiety only of its stock; neither did he fail to
suggest, that perhaps the violent struggle then going on to keep it in
existence, was instigated and maintained, to no inconsiderable extent,
by foreign influence. In no equivocal manner he depicted the absurdity,
to say nothing of the danger, of permitting Great Britain to acquire
such an influence as she evidently could acquire, by having her
monetary interests, to so great an extent, identified with the United
States bank――an influence which would place facilities in her hands,
that, in case she felt disposed, she could use to our most serious
detriment. These and many other considerations, he brought forward as
furnishing good and valid ground of alarm, and legitimately calculated
to awaken patriotic opposition. But his greatest fundamental objection
was one which he derived from the constitution itself, and one which he
urged with a vehemence sure to prevail. He maintained that no specific
provision was found in that instrument, authorizing or permitting
the charter of the bank, neither could it be so construed as to imply
the power to that effect. In opposing, therefore, the renewal of its
charter, his remarks were principally confined to the objectionable
feature of its unconstitutionality; and they furnish one of the
strongest arguments against a national bank ever made, and one that
is often referred to as authority of a high order. It may be well to
insert a portion of his speech, illustrative of their pertinence and

‘This vagrant power to erect a bank, after having wandered throughout
the whole constitution in quest of some congenial spot to fasten upon,
has been at length located, by the gentleman from Georgia, on that
provision which authorized congress to lay and collect taxes. In 1791
the power is referred to one part of the instrument, and in 1811 to
another. Sometimes it is alleged to be deducible from the power to
regulate commerce. Hard pressed here, it disappears, and shows itself
under the grant to coin money.

‘What is the nature of the government? It is emphatically federal,
vested with an aggregate of specific powers for general purposes,
conceded by existing sovereignties, who have themselves retained what
is not so conceded. It is said that there are cases in which it must
act on implied powers. This is not controverted, but the implication
must be necessary, and obviously flow from the enumerated power with
which it is allied. The power to charter companies is not specified
in the grant, and I contend is of a nature not transferable by mere
implication. It is one of the most exalted acts of sovereignty. In
the exercise of this gigantic power we have seen an East India Company
erected, which has carried dismay, desolation and death, throughout
one of the largest portions of the habitable world――a company which is
in itself a sovereignty, which has subverted empires, and set up new
dynasties, and has not only made war, but war against its legitimate
sovereign. Under the influence of this power we have seen arise a South
Sea Company, and a Mississippi Company, that distracted and convulsed
all Europe, and menaced a total overthrow of all credit and confidence,
and universal bankruptcy. Is it to be imagined that a power so vast
would have been left by the constitution to doubtful inference? It
has been alleged that there are many instances in the constitution,
where powers in their nature incidental, and which would necessarily
have been vested along with the principal, are nevertheless expressly
enumerated, and the power to make rules and regulations for the
government of the land and naval forces, which it is said is incidental
to the power to raise armies and provide a navy, is given as an example.
What does this prove? How extremely cautious the convention were
to leave as little as possible to implication. In all cases where
incidental powers are acted on, the principal and incidental ought
to be congenial with each other, and partake of a common nature. The
incidental power ought to be strictly subordinate, and limited to the
end proposed to be attained by the specific power. In other words,
under the name of accomplishing one object which is specified, the
power implied ought not to be made to embrace other objects which are
not specified in the constitution. If then, as is contended, you could
establish a bank to collect and distribute the revenue, it ought to be
expressly restricted to the purpose of such collection and distribution.
It is mockery worse than usurpation, to establish it for a lawful
object, and then to extend it to other objects which are not lawful. In
deducing the power to create corporations, such as I have described it,
from the power to collect taxes, the relation of principal and incident
are prostrated and destroyed. The accessory is exalted above the
principal. As well might it be said that the great luminary of day is
an accessory, a satellite to the humblest star that twinkles forth its
feeble light in the firmament of heaven.

‘Suppose the constitution had been silent as to an individual
department of the government, could you, under the power to lay and
collect taxes, establish a judiciary? I presume not; but if you could
derive the power by mere implication, could you vest it with any other
authority than to enforce the collection of the revenue? A bank is made
for the ostensible purpose of aiding in the collection of the revenue,
and whilst it is engaged in this, the most inferior and subordinate
of all its functions, it is made to diffuse itself throughout society,
and to influence all the great operations of credit, circulation, and
commerce. Like the Virginia justice, you tell the man whose turkey
had been stolen, that your books of precedents furnish no form for his
case, but then you will grant him a precept to search for a cow, and
when looking for that he may possibly find his turkey! You say to this
corporation, we cannot authorize you to discount――to emit paper――to
regulate commerce――no! our book has no precedents of that kind. But
then we can authorize you to collect the revenue, and whilst occupied
with that, you may do whatever else you please.

‘What is a corporation, such as the bill contemplates? It is a splendid
association of favored individuals, taken from the mass of society, and
invested with exemptions, and surrounded by immunities and privileges.
The honorable gentleman from Massachusetts has said that the original
law establishing the bank was justly liable to the objection of
vesting in that institution an exclusive privilege,――the faith of
the government being pledged that no other bank should be authorized
during its existence. This objection, he supposes, is obviated by
the bill under consideration; but all corporations enjoy exclusive
privileges――that is, the corporators have privileges which no others
possess; if you create fifty corporations instead of one, you have only
fifty privileged bodies instead of one. I contend that the states have
the exclusive power to regulate contracts, to declare the capacities
and incapacities to contract, and to provide as to the extent of the
responsibility of debtors to their creditors. If congress have the
power to create an artificial body and say it shall be endowed with the
attributes of an individual, if you can bestow on this object of your
own creation the ability to contract, may you not in contravention
of state rights confer upon slaves, infants, and _femes covert_,
the ability to contract? And if you have the power to say that an
association of individuals shall be responsible for their debts only in
a certain limited degree, what is to prevent an extension of a similar
exemption to individuals? Where is the limitation upon this power to
set up corporations? You establish one in the heart of a state, the
basis of whose capital is money. You may erect others, whose capital
shall consist of land, slaves, and personal estate, and thus the whole
property within the jurisdiction of a state might be absorbed by those
political bodies. The existing bank contends that it is beyond the
power of a state to tax it, and if this pretension be well founded, it
is in the power of congress by chartering companies to dry up all the
sources of state revenue. This government has the power to lay taxes,
to raise armies, provide munitions, make war, regulate commerce, coin
money, etc., etc. It would not be difficult to show as intimate a
connection between a corporation established for any purpose whatever,
and some one or other of those great powers, as there is between the
revenue and the bank of the United States.’

Mr. Clay noticed the danger to which the United States were exposed
from the fact that the capital of the bank was principally subject to
foreign control, in the following glowing language.

‘The power of a nation is said to consist in the sword and the purse.
Perhaps at last all power is resolvable into that of the purse, for
with it you may command almost every thing else. The specie circulation
of the United States is estimated by some calculators at ten millions
of dollars; and if it be no more, one moiety is in the vaults of this
bank. May not the time arrive when the concentration of such a vast
portion of the circulating medium of the country in the hands of any
corporation will be dangerous to our liberties? By whom is this immense
power wielded? By a body who, in derogation of the great principle of
all our institutions, responsibility to the people, is amenable only
to a few stockholders, and they chiefly foreigners. Suppose an attempt
to subvert this government――would not the traitor first aim, by force
or corruption, to acquire the treasure of this company? Look at it
in another aspect. Seven tenths of its capital are in the hands of
foreigners, chiefly English subjects. We are possibly on the eve of a
rupture with that nation. Should such an event occur, do you apprehend
that the English premier would experience any difficulty in obtaining
the entire control of the institution. Republics, above all other
governments, ought most seriously to guard against foreign influence.
All history proves that the internal dissensions excited by foreign
intrigue, have produced the downfall of almost every free government
that has hitherto existed; and yet gentlemen contend that we are
benefited by the possession of this foreign capital!’

His powerful arguments and convincing reasoning prevailed――resulting
in a most signal victory over those opposed to him, who entered on
the discussion with sanguine expectations of success. The charter
was not then renewed. Many more subjects of interest came before the
senate during the session of 1810–11, in the consideration of which he
displayed his usual zeal and solicitude in behalf of the interests of
the commonwealth, which were now with favor generally recognized. Mr.
Clay had produced an impression of his eloquent powers and brilliant
talents, that was not confined to his associates and those witnessing
their every day exercise, but it was as extensive as his country. His
reputation as a debater, orator, and sound logical reasoner, was now
immovably established. The star of his fame, which first appeared
in the political horizon, under circumstances of doubt and gloom,
struggling through dense clouds of indigence and obscurity, emitting
what political animosity termed an _ignis fatuus_ glare around the
cabins of the emigrant and the hunter in western forests, was now in
the _ascendant_, illuminating and vivifying, not only the woody homes,
the rural hamlets, and sylvan abodes of his own forest land, but
mingling its bright beams most beautifully with those that streamed
from Liberty’s altar. Henceforth it will be our delightful duty to
mark it steadily careering its glorious way upwards, higher and higher,
making its blessed influences to be felt in every nook and corner of
our extensive country, penetrating the kingly court, flashing amid
the diadems of crowned heads, and introducing hope and peace into
the tenement of the oppressed on distant shores. It was obvious to
the least penetrative vision that it was then rapidly and steadfastly
approaching the zenith, when its effulgence would illumine the world.

At the close of his second term of service, which was for two years,
he returned to Kentucky, but his fame had preceded him――the eyes of
Kentuckians had been fixed gratefully on him during his senatorial
services, and they were prepared to return him speedily to the halls
of congress, to adorn which, he had given such abundant proof of his
capability. According to the proclamation of the president, congress
convened on the fourth day of November, 1811, and on the first ballot
for speaker to the house of representatives, Mr. Clay was elected
by a majority of thirty-one over the opposing candidates. When it is
recollected that this was his first appearance in that body, it must
be regarded as a remarkable occurrence, and entirely aside from the
ordinary course of events; indeed, as an instance of early and strong
confidence reposed in one, to which a parallel cannot be found in the
history of any individual. There were many circumstances, however,
explanatory of this hasty, unreserved reliance. He was known to have
acted in that capacity in the legislature of Kentucky, and to have
discharged its duties with singular ability and acceptance; also of his
conspicuity in the senate they were not ignorant, and perhaps a desire
to see Mr. Randolph, of Virginia, restrained in his gross violations
of order and decorum, for which he was noted, whom it was imagined
Mr. Clay could curb, induced several members to vote for him, who
otherwise had not supported him for the office. That confidence so
generously, spontaneously, and by him so unexpectedly yielded, he very
appropriately noticed, in a pertinent speech made by him on assuming
the responsible station, and he proved by his faithfulness, zeal, and
decision, with which he discharged its onerous duties, that it was most
judiciously confided. He showed himself equal to the task of curbing
Mr. John Randolph, or any other turbulent spirit in the assembly
over which he presided. He was subsequently chosen several times to
fill the same important post, and never did he betray his trust, or
disappoint the just expectations of his friends. The manner in which he
exercised his authority may be considered as somewhat stern, slightly
approximating to arbitrariness, evincing great decision and firmness of
character, and a disposition not to tolerate the slightest disrespect
or indignity towards the house. During the long period in which he
discharged the functions of speaker, including many sessions of great
turbulence and strife, not one of his decisions was ever reversed on an
appeal from the chair. This fact speaks volumes in his praise.

At the time when he was inducted into his office, the affairs of the
republic were in an exceedingly critical condition. Those who had been
sustaining themselves with the cherished expectations that England
would repeal her orders in council, since the revocation of the edicts
of France had removed the causes inducing their passage, now utterly
abandoned them, on beholding her, instead of relaxing, enforcing them
more rigorously than ever. To every unbiassed mind, the time seemed to
have arrived when it was necessary to rise and put a stop to the long
series of unprovoked depredations and outrages, committed against our
commerce, by both that and the French nation. Such was the juncture
of affairs as to make it obvious that if the American nation would
preserve the semblance of freedom even, and command national respect,
she must resort to more efficient measures than she had hitherto
employed; that she must retrieve her tarnished honor, and vindicate
boldly her rights. France manifested some disposition to be influenced
by the remonstrances of the United States against her spoliations,
by rescinding the opprobious Berlin and Milan decrees of Napoleon,
which she had so construed as to make them sanction the seizure and
confiscation of our property. Not so, however, with Great Britain;
she refused to recognize their repeal, and even pretended to deny that
they had been revoked. She still persisted in obstructing the commerce
of America, declaring all the ports of France in a state of blockade,
seizing our merchantmen bound to them, and confiscating their cargoes,
in direct violation of the law of nations, permitting any neutral power
to trade to any foreign port, when the blockade is not maintained by
the actual presence of an adequate force. But England, by proclamation,
blockaded every French port, from the Elbe to Brest, interdicting all
vessels from entering them which did not carry on their trade through
her, and seized such as made the attempt, while at the same time she
neglected to keep a naval force on the coast of France sufficient to
legalize the blockade. Her cruisers pursued our trading vessels to the
very mouths of our own rivers and harbors, and seized, condemned, and
confiscated them for violating this _pseudo_ blockade. It seemed, by
the number and enormity of the illegalities practiced towards us by
Great Britain, as though she had commenced an organized, systematic
crusade against our commerce, which aimed at nothing less than its
utter extinction. But her barbarous system of impressment capped the
climax of her cruelties. Under the assumed right of searching our
ships, thousands of our seamen had been forced into her service on
suspicion that they were British subjects. This execrable custom had
carried seven thousand American freemen into captivity, as appeared
from official reports made during that session, and the number was
constantly augmenting; scarcely a breeze came across the Atlantic
without wafting to our shores intelligence of some fresh enormity.
To submit quietly to such unheard of oppression, would be an anomaly
in the history of civilized nations. To expect redress by mild
measures was out of the question. These had long been tried and found
ineffectual. Madison, Pinckney, and Monroe, in their correspondence
with the British government, had remonstrated again and again, but
to no other purpose than to embolden the aggressor in his nefarious
proceedings. There seemed, therefore, no alternative left the United
States but to put themselves strongly on the defensive, and by force of
arms, put a stop to these accumulating injuries. Every thing lovely in
liberty, every thing sacred and hallowed in the memory of those by whom
it was won, protested against further forbearance, and forbade further
delay in unsheathing the sword of retributive justice. In short, the
conviction had become deep and settled that nothing short of _war_
could preserve an inch of canvass on an American vessel, on the face
of the ocean.

Thus circumstanced, the United States seemed to be shut up to forcible
resistance. The eyes of the whole country were turned towards congress,
looking for measures of relief. It had been convened earlier than usual,
that the subject of a declaration of war might come speedily before
them. It is needless to remark that Mr. Clay’s views were favorable to
war. An individual like him, jealous of his country’s honor almost to a
fault, who could never contemplate oppression but with feelings of the
deepest detestation, nor without experiencing the instantaneous desire
to punish it; would grasp the weapons of defence instinctively, and if
necessary, pour out his blood like water, rather than bow submissively
beneath the galling yoke. With him, then, there was no equivocation
nor hesitation, in advocating prompt warlike action, although he was
compelled to do it in the face of formidable opposition. There was
a strong party in the United States at that time, friendly to Great
Britain, and disposed, rather than array themselves against her in a
sanguinary conflict, to submit quietly to her rapacious attacks upon
our liberties and lives. This party was well represented in congress.
Many members of talent and influence were found in its ranks, in both
houses, and they did not hesitate to employ them detrimentally to the
interests of their country. But happily these found in him a giant
champion――one who was well able to guard them, and willing to spend
his last energy in their support. Lowndes, Calhoun, and other powerful
coadjutors also stood with him, who labored hard to inspire the same
ardent flame of patriotism in the breasts of others, that burned so
intensely in their own.

In the message of the president, the causes of complaint against Great
Britain were stated, and also a concise summary of the abuses we had
received, and were then receiving at her hands. It recommended the
adoption of efficient and immediate measures of redress, by providing
the means of prosecuting vigorously a war of defence and offence. This
document was referred to a committee, which was selected by him. He
was extremely solicitous that the subject of our foreign relations
should receive that consideration which their exceedingly interesting
character demanded; and to secure this, he was careful to choose those
whose views, in reference to them, coincided with his own. Peter B.
Porter, of New York, was the chairman of the committee. He presented
their report to the house on the 29th of November. It stated succinctly
and in a patriotic tone, the injuries we had received at the hands of
both England and France, denominating them as ‘so daring in character,
and so disgraceful in execution, that it would be impossible for the
people of the United States to remain indifferent. We must now tamely
and quietly submit, or we must resist by those means which God has
placed within our reach. Your committee would not cast a slander over
the American name, by the expression of a doubt which branch of this
alternative will be embraced. The occasion is now presented when the
national character, misrepresented and traduced for a time, by foreign
and domestic enemies, should be vindicated.

‘If we have not rushed to the field of battle like the nations who
are led by the mad ambition of a single chief, or the avarice of a
corrupted court, it has not proceeded from a fear of war, but from
our love of justice and humanity. That proud spirit of liberty and
independence, which sustained our fathers in the successful assertion
of their rights against foreign aggression, is not yet sunk. The
patriotic fire of the revolution still burns in the American breast,
with a holy and inextinguishable flame, and will conduct this nation
to those high destinies which are not less the reward of dignified
moderation than of exalted virtue.

‘But we have borne with injury until forbearance has ceased to be a
virtue. The sovereignty and independence of these states, purchased
and sanctified by the blood of our fathers, from whom we received them,
not for ourselves only, but as the inheritance of our posterity, are
deliberately and systematically violated. And the period has arrived,
when, in the opinion of your committee, it is the sacred duty of
congress to call forth the patriotism and resources of the country. By
the aid of these, and with the blessing of God, we confidently trust we
shall be enabled to procure that redress which has been sought for by
justice, by remonstrance and forbearance, in vain.’

They introduced into the report suitable resolutions for accomplishing
the object which it proposed, which received the deliberate and careful
consideration of the house.

Mr. Clay, being in the chair, had little opportunity to engage in the
stirring debate that followed, yet he seemed to infuse a portion of his
own glowing spirit into the friends of the measure, which caused others
to approach it in the most determined resolution of sustaining any
feasible and just course calculated to sustain the dignity and honor
of the nation. The doctrines of the report were soon known throughout
the country, and were hailed by the great mass of the people with every
demonstration of approbation, and the echoes of their loud rejoicings
rang back through the halls of congress like the tones of the ‘storm
stirred deep,’ with most thrilling effect on the hearts of their
representatives. The whole nation was kindled into a blaze by that
document; it was what the people had been expecting, and impatiently
waiting for. This applied the last bundle of fagots to the flame of
patriotism that burned in the hearts of millions remote from the
neighborhood of the outrages complained of, the extent and enormity
of which, vague rumor only had conveyed to them. But this instrument
made them acquainted, not only with their number, but also with their
turpitude and murderous design. It showed them, on the one hand,
the haughty, menacing attitude of England, and on the other, our own
crouching, succumbing posture at her feet. It placed in bold relief
before them, the ♦barbaric depredations of the former on the ocean, her
inhuman treatment of our seamen, and the huge paw of her lion tearing
and lacerating our commercial interests whenever it could be placed
upon them. The exhibition was viewed with feelings of surprise and
indignation, causing them to stand aghast, and with difficulty to
credit the evidence of their senses――to believe the picture accurately
drawn. But the period of their stupified amazement was brief, and then
the loud yell of vengeance which succeeded, was such as freemen only
can send up when the iron heel of oppression is on their necks, and
their precious heritage in his ravenous jaws. Like the earthquake, it
shook the whole land, and its burden, repeated from every hill-top and
valley, was _war_, _vindictive war_. For this there was great unanimity
among the populace, who could not rest, now that the knowledge of the
long-inflicted wrongs was brought to their dwellings; but there was
not a corresponding unanimity in congress. It was painful to Mr. Clay
to witness, in some members, a manifestation of awe and reverence
even towards Great Britain, and in others, feelings of favor. By the
revelations that had been made, his soul was wrought up to the highest
point of manly and bold resistance, and he could not conceive it
possible, that free legislators, similarly circumstanced with himself,
could be affected otherwise. In many he witnessed a disposition to
believe that the country was not in a suitable condition to commence
and carry successfully on a war with so formidable a power as England.
Our small and badly equipped army, our depressed navy, exhausted
treasury, heavy indebtedness, and general lack of the requisite means,
were pleaded by those opposed to the rupture. But Mr. Clay, in the
towering majesty and strength of an intellectual giant, took all the
obstacles and objections which their combined force could bring forward,
in his powerful grasp, and compressed them into a nut-shell, entirely
divested of their intimidating power. Among those opposed to war was
Mr. Randolph. ‘Mr. Randolph’s intellect was then in its vigor, and the
effort which he made in opposition to the report of the committee was
perhaps the greatest in his whole congressional life. The extensive
resources of his mind, the stately march of his eloquent periods,
the startling flashes of his indignation, and the sneering devil that
lurked in his tone and look, rendered him an opponent at that day, whom
it was by no means safe to encounter. Mr. Clay was the only man in the
house, who could dash aside, with unerring certainty, the weapons of
this Ishmael.’

On the sixth of December the house resolved itself into a committee of
the whole, and took up the report. After a brief speech from Mr. Porter,
elucidating and maintaining its positions and resolutions, it was
adopted. It furnished ground of discussion in the house for several
days, warmly and vigorously sustained by its friends, and violently
opposed by its enemies. Among the latter, Mr. Randolph rendered himself
the most conspicuous, both by his anti-republican and eccentric views,
and the hostility evinced by him towards all who dissented from them,
whom he visited with the most bitter personal invective. His fertile
imagination conjured up a host of reasons, to deter us from embarking
in the offensive war, which the report recommended. He threatened
the advocates of it with the total loss of their political power, and
magnified the might of England to an overwhelming extent; suggesting
that it would be far more appropriate to approach her in a suppliant
position, with downcast looks and folded arms, than to rush with
shield and buckler and rashly dare her to the conflict. He seemed to
sympathize with Great Britain, deprecating that censure heaped upon her
as unjust, and advocated the policy of farther negotiations with her.
His arguments, and those of his friends, were, however, unavailing,
and when the debate ceased, the resolutions were separately adopted by
large majorities.

On the thirty-first of December, the house again resolved itself into
a committee of the whole on a bill from the senate providing for the
raising of twenty-five thousand troops. Mr. Breckenridge being in the
chair, an opportunity was furnished Mr. Clay to express his views in
relation to it, which he embraced. Among those in favor of war in the
house, much diversity of opinion prevailed in regard to the number of
men it was desirable to raise. Many were in favor of fifteen thousand
only――a force in his estimation by far too small to meet the exigences
which had then arisen, and would be likely to arise. The secretary of
war, in his report, had stated that at least twelve thousand troops
would be wanted for the sole purpose of garrisoning the fortresses on
the sea-board. During the progress of the proposed war, it might be
deemed important to attack and subjugate Quebec in Canada, in which
case it would be necessary, he contended, to post in the various
military stations of strength on the route, a considerable number of
men, to retain their possession. Allowances he thought should be made
for the various contingences probable to occur, always incident to the
operations of an army, and calculated to diminish their number. Even
if the projected invasion of the British Provinces should be abandoned,
Mr. Clay contended that the single circumstance of the immense extent
of frontier to be guarded, rendered it obvious that twenty-five
thousand men would constitute a force by no means too large. Inasmuch
as it was the painful but imperative duty of America to strike the blow,
he was in favor of so concentrating her energies, that when it fell,
there would remain no necessity for its repetition. Subsequent events
have proved his policy both wise and sagacious.

Mr. Randolph mingled his erratic and visionary views in the discussion,
and exerted himself to the utmost, to foment prejudice against a
regular army; the effect of which would be worse than that of the
locusts of Egypt, famishing, impoverishing, and deluging the country
with blood, and erect a throne, to some idol conqueror. Said Mr. Clay
in reply, ‘I am not the advocate of standing armies: but the standing
armies which excite most my fears, are those which are kept up in time
of peace. I confess I do not perceive any real source of danger in
a military force of twenty-five thousand men in the United States,
provided only for a state of war, even supposing it to be corrupted,
and its arms turned by the ambition of its leaders against the freedom
of the country. I see abundant security against any such treasonable
attempt. The diffusion of information among the great body of the
people, constitutes a powerful safeguard. The American character has
been much abused by Europeans, whose tourists, whether on horse or foot,
in verse and prose have united in depreciating it. It is true we do
not exhibit as many signal instances of scientific acquirement in this
country, as are furnished in the old world, but it is undeniable that
the great mass of the people possess more intelligence than any other
people on the globe. Such a people, consisting of upwards of seven
millions, affording a physical power of about a million of men capable
of bearing arms, and ardently devoted to liberty, cannot be subdued by
an army of twenty-five thousand men. The wide extent of country over
which we are spread, is another security. In other countries, France
and England for example, the fall of Paris or London is the fall of the
nation. Here are no such dangerous aggregations of people. New York,
and Philadelphia, and Boston, and every city on the Atlantic, may be
subdued by a usurper, and he will have made but a small advance in the
accomplishment of his purpose. Even let the whole country east of the
Alleghany, submit to the ambition of some daring chief, and the liberty
of the Union will be still unconquered. It will find successful support
from the west. A great portion of the militia, nearly the whole, I
understand, of Massachusetts, have arms in their hands, and I trust in
God that this great object will be persevered in, till every man in the
nation can proudly shoulder the musket, which is to defend his country
and himself. A people having, besides the benefit of one general
government, other local governments in full operation, capable of
exerting and commanding great portions of the physical power, all of
which must be ♦prostrated before our constitution is subverted――such
a people have nothing to fear from a petty contemptible force of
twenty-five thousand regulars.’

Many of the opposition affected to believe that the interests of the
country would not be subserved, whether the war eventuated in her
favor, or that of her enemy; they could see nothing to be gained by
it; to which Mr. Clay said, ‘I will ask what are we not to lose by
peace?――commerce, character, a nation’s best treasure and honor! If
pecuniary considerations alone are to govern, there are sufficient
motives for the war. Our revenue is reduced by the operation of
the belligerent edicts, to about six millions of dollars. The year
preceding the embargo, it was sixteen. Take away the orders in council,
it will again mount up to sixteen millions. By continuing, therefore,
in peace――if the mongrel situation in which we are deserves that
denomination――we lose annually, in revenue alone, ten millions of
dollars. Gentlemen will say, repeal the law of non-importation. If the
United States were capable of that perfidy, the revenue would not be
restored to its former state, the orders in council continuing. Without
an export trade, which these orders prevent, inevitable ruin will ensue
if we import as freely as we did prior to the embargo. A nation that
carries on an import trade without an export trade to support it, must
in the end be as certainly bankrupt, as the individual would be who
incurred an annual expenditure without an income.’

Mr. Clay contended that England, in assigning the cause of her
aggressions to be the punishment of France, with whom she was at war,
was practicing a deceptive part; that this was her ostensible and not
real course. It was her inordinate desire of supremacy on the seas,
which could not brook any appearance of rivalry, that prompted her
hostilities. She saw in your numberless ships, which whitened every sea,
in your hundred and twenty thousand gallant tars, the seeds of a naval
force, which, in thirty years, would rival her on her own element.
_She therefore commenced the odious system of impressment, of which no
language can paint my execration! She DARED to attempt the subversion
of the personal freedom of your mariners!_

He closed by expressing his decided conviction of the justice of the
undertaking, and hoping that unless redress was obtained by peaceable
means speedily, war would be resorted to before the close of the

On the fourth of January following, the bill passed the house, after
several ineffectual attempts to introduce amendments, by a vote of
ninety-four to thirty-four, several voting for, who at the commencement
of the discussion were bitterly opposed to it. This was the initiatory
step taken by the government in relation to the war.

On the twenty-second of the same month, the committee to whom that
portion of the president’s message was referred that contemplated
a naval establishment, reported a bill in favor of its increase. To
this also Mr. Clay gave his most vigorous support, advocating the
construction of several warlike vessels, combating the many specious
objections of those opposed to its increase, and showed clearly their
fallacy. He described three degrees of naval power. The first was one
of sufficient magnitude and strength as would enable us to go forth
and successfully cope with that of any belligerent nation on the globe.
But such a force, he contended, it was out of the power of the American
nation to raise, neither under her present circumstances was it
particularly desirable.

The second, was one by which we should be able to beat off any naval
force or armament which Great Britain, or any other nation, might
be able to send to and permanently station on our coasts. The force
requisite would be about one third of that despatched by the foreign
nation, according to nautical experience. He estimated that twelve
line-of-battle ships and fifteen or twenty frigates would be sufficient
to keep at bay the most formidable fleet England could send against
us and maintain in American waters, during her conflict with European
powers. A naval force like that, however, he admitted could not be
raised then, but he urged congress to take such measures as should
secure its construction as soon as possible, and estimated that its
completion might be confidently expected in a few years. To him there
was nothing in the vast extent of Great Britain’s naval resources
intimidating. He maintained that her great distance from us, the perils
which would environ a squadron on a foreign shore, and the ease with
which, from the extent of our sea-coast, we could harass or escape
an enemy, furnished proof sufficient to convince any unprejudiced
mind, that we should be able very soon to assemble a navy capable of
maintaining all our maritime rights and interests. The correctness of
Mr. Clay’s views has since been amply verified, and the accuracy with
which he foresaw and foretold future events shows him to have been
gifted with no ordinary degree of prescience.

The third degree of naval force, Mr. Clay regarded as entirely in the
power of the nation to raise and sustain. It was a force competent
to prevent any single vessel, however large, from interrupting our
coasting trade, from entering our harbors, and levying contributions
from our large cities. This he argued and proved was within the
immediate means of the nation, although vigorously opposed by those
hostile to the war. He triumphed, however, singularly over them,
reprobating with severity the policy that refused to provide against
any dangers because it could not guard against all. ‘If,’ said he, ‘we
are not able to meet the gathered wolves of the forest, shall we put
up with the barking impudence of every petty cur that trips across our

It was Mr. Clay’s ardent desire to provide a navy whose power should
be commensurate with the interest it was designed to protect. This,
our limited means in actual possession, the unavailability of those
in our immediate vicinity, but above all, the depressing tendency on
our financial department of those measures of inhuman cruelty towards
our mariners on the one hand, and of arbitrary commercial exactions on
the other by transatlantic powers, forbade us to expect. His remarks
at that time in relation to this branch of our national defence, are
worthy of the most attentive perusal. They abound with lucid argument,
beautiful illustration, and convincing demonstration, with which it
would be difficult to find a speech of similar length more replete.

It was an invariable rule with Mr. Clay, from which we find no
instance of his deviation, whenever he investigated a measure of a
public nature, to determine first accurately its bearing upon the
whole community; how the happiness and prosperity of the nation would
be affected by its introduction; and in the second place to graduate
his efforts accordingly. Although rich in menial resources, possessing
an inexhaustible intellectual mine, and an unfailing fountain of
eloquence, he never drew largely on these when a subject of chimerical
sectional importance came before him. It was only when one involving
the public honor or dishonor arose――one on which the destinies of the
republic were suspended――one which aimed at subverting or upholding
the liberties of the people――that he made great drafts on them. He
never wandered through the interminable wilds of diffuse debate,
undetermined and undirected. As a skilful physician ascertains the
state of his patient before prescribing for him, so Mr. Clay, previous
to legislation, carefully scanned the social, civil, and political
condition of the whole region for which he was to legislate, and then,
without any meandering or circumlocution, procured and applied the
appropriate remedy. Though often found amid the dust of debate, it was
not of his own raising. The caballers of faction, the more easily to
accomplish their base designs, often darkened the political atmosphere,
which one blast of his eloquence seldom failed to purify. Perhaps at
no previous period in our political history were demagogues, both in
and out of congress, more busily or violently engaged than at this.
Disclosures of the most astounding character had been made, and were
making, by which it appeared that there were those who waited only for
a suitable occasion to barter away their country’s freedom for foreign
gold. The arguments of those who opposed an increase of our navy
were of such a nature as to cause their patriotism to be questioned.
Notwithstanding it was a fact which could not be concealed, that our
sea-coast was entirely defenceless and exposed to the ravages of a
hostile nation, and our commerce crippled, many contended that nothing
beneficial could be realized from such increase, and even went so far
as to say that our foreign commerce was not worth protecting. Mr. Clay
was convinced that it was the most provident measure that could under
the then existing circumstances be adopted, and advocated it with a
zeal and energy that knew no bounds. He demonstrated its necessity,
not only to the Atlantic states, but to the vast west. ‘If,’ said he,
‘there be a point more than any other in the United States demanding
the aid of naval protection, that point is the mouth of the Mississippi.
The population of the whole western country are dependent on this
single outlet for their surplus productions. These productions can
be transported in no other way. Close the mouth of the Mississippi,
and their export trade is annihilated. Abandon all idea of protecting
by maratime force the mouth of the Mississippi, and we shall hold
the inestimable right of the navigation of that river by the most
precarious tenure. The whole commerce of the Mississippi, a commerce
that is destined to be the richest that was ever borne by a single
stream, is placed at the mercy of a single ship lying off the Balize!
Can gentlemen, particularly from the western country, contemplate such
possible, nay probable events, without desiring to see at least the
commencement of such a naval establishment as will effectually protect
the Mississippi?’ He showed the intimate connection of commerce with a
navy, by saying that ‘a marine is the natural, the appropriate guardian
of foreign commerce. The shepherd and his faithful dog are not more
necessary to guard the flocks that browse and gambol on the neighboring
mountain. Neglect to provide the one, and you must abandon the other.
Suppose the expected war with Great Britain is commenced――you enter
and subjugate Canada, and she still refuses to do you justice――what
other possible mode will remain to operate on the enemy, but upon that
element where alone you can come in contact with her? And if you do not
prepare to protect there your own commerce and to assail his, will he
not sweep from the ocean every vessel bearing your flag, and destroy
even the coasting trade?’ To the argument that foreign trade was not
worth protecting, he asked, ‘What is this foreign commerce that has
suddenly become so inconsiderable? It has with very trifling aid from
other sources, defrayed the expenses of the government ever since
the adoption of the present constitution, maintained an expensive
and successful war with the Indians, a war with the Barbary powers,
a _quasi_ war with France, sustained the charges of suppressing two
insurrections, and extinguishing upwards of forty-six millions of the
public debt. In revenue, it has since the year 1789 yielded one hundred
and ninety-one millions of dollars.’ Alluding to the eminent danger of
our commercial metropolis, he remarked, ‘Is there a reflecting man in
the nation who would not charge congress with a culpable neglect of
its duty, if for the want of such a force a single ship were to bombard
one of our cities? Would not every honorable member of the committee
inflict on himself the bitterest reproaches, if by failing to make an
inconsiderable addition to our gallant little navy, a single British
vessel should place New York under contribution?’

Mr. Clay’s arguments went home to the hearts of the members of the
house with most convincing energy, dispelling the dense cloud of
prejudice which interested faction, strongly controlled by foreign
influence, had succeeded in raising, driving his opponents from their
strong holds of open opposition, and dragging from their hiding places
those who were dealing their blows in secret. He succeeded in causing
the congressional pulsations to be in unison with his own――to pass
the bill by a handsome majority. Thus an appropriation was secured for
repairing and enlarging the shield of our protection, that it might be
able to meet and ward off the blow that seemed about to descend upon us,
secured mainly by the indefatigable exertions of Mr. Clay. The result
was in complete accordance with his far-seeing sagacity. Augmented
and equipped according to the provisions of the bill, our navy was
sent forth to battle and to victory. With the cry of our impressed and
suffering seamen, mingled soon the joyful notes of triumph; release
speedily succeeded; aggression ceased, and beneath the ‘star spangled
banner,’ respected and honored, our merchantmen pursued their way to
traffic where they pleased unmolested.

Most of the state legislatures signified their approval of the measures
adopted by congress in relation to the war by corresponding resolutions.
Kentucky early regarded with just indignation the tyrannical treatment
of Great Britain, and evinced a disposition to resort immediately to
coercive measures for redress, and guarantied her support to the extent
of her ability to any course the general government might think proper
to pursue. She declared that ‘should we tamely submit, the world ought
to despise us――we should despise ourselves――England herself would
despise us.’ In view of the prospect of immediate rupture, she resolved
that ‘the state of Kentucky, to the last mite of her strength and
resources, will contribute them to maintain the contest and support the
right of their country against such lawless violations, and that the
citizens of Kentucky are prepared to take the field when called on.’

After the passage of the navy bill, which was on the 29th of January,
1812, congress was employed with matters pertaining to our relations
with Great Britain, in all of which Mr. Clay exhibited untiring energy
and unflagging zeal. In the language of another, ‘in all of them
Mr. Clay was the champion and the guide of the democratic party. No
difficulties could weary or withstand his energies. He moved in majesty,
for he moved in strength. Like the Carthaginian chief in the passage
of the Alps, he kept his place in front of his comrades, putting
aside with a giant effort every obstacle that opposed his progress,
applauding the foremost of his followers, and rousing those who
lingered by words of encouragement or reproach, until he succeeded in
posting them upon a moral eminence from which they could look down upon
the region where their prowess was to meet its long expected reward.’

On the first day of April ensuing, the following document was
transmitted by the president to congress:

‘Considering it as expedient under existing circumstances and prospects,
that a general embargo be laid on all vessels now in port, or hereafter
arriving, for the period of sixty days, I recommend the immediate
passage of a law to that effect.’

Mr. Porter, the chairman of the committee on foreign relations, to whom
the message was referred, reported a bill, and the house went into a
committee of the whole to consider it. A warm and protracted discussion
ensued, and Mr. Clay was among the first to come forward and express
his hearty concurrence with the opinion of Mr. Madison relative to the
embargo. ‘I approve of it,’ said he, ‘because it is to be viewed as a
direct precursor to war. As an American and a member of that house, he
felt proud that the executive had recommended the measure.’

As a matter in course, those who opposed war opposed the embargo, which
was obviously intended as a step preparatory to it, to give sufficient
time to place our commercial interests in a secure condition, so that
when hostilities should actually commence, our trading vessels should
not be in a situation to become an easy prey to British cruisers.
Among the most rabid was Mr. Randolph, who denounced the embargo, and
in opposition to Mr. Clay, declared it a subterfuge――a retreat from
battle――and not a step preparatory to war. ‘Sir,’ said he, ‘we are now
in secret conclave. The eyes of the world are not upon us, but the eyes
of God behold our doings. He knows the spirit of our minds. Shall we
deliberate on this subject in the spirit of sobriety and candor, or
with that spirit which has too often characterized our discussions like
the present? We ought to realize that we are in the presence of that
God who knows our thoughts and motives, and to whom we must render
an account for the deeds done in the body. What new cause of war or
of an embargo has arisen within the last twelve months? The affair
of the Chesapeake is settled; no new principles of blockade have been
interpolated in the laws of nations. Every man of candor would ask
why we did not then go to war twelve months ago.’ He said that the
honorable speaker was laboring under a mistake by declaring that the
message was for war; that he (Mr. Randolph) had ‘too much reliance
on the wisdom and virtue of the president to believe that he would be
guilty of such gross and unparalleled treason.’

Mr. Clay replied in a becoming manner, in language that fell upon the
house burning with the fire of his patriotic eloquence. ‘The gentleman
from Virginia need not have reminded them in the manner he had of that
Being who watched over and surrounded them. From this sentiment we
should draw very different conclusions from those which occurred to him.
It ought to influence them to that patriotism and to a display of those
high qualifications, so much more honorable to the human character.
The gentleman asks what _new_ cause of war has been avowed? The affair
of the Chesapeake is settled, to be sure; but only to paralyse the
spirit of the country. Has Great Britain abstained from impressing
our seamen――from depredating upon our property? We have complete proof
in her capture of our ships, in her exciting our frontier Indians to
hostility, and in her sending an emissary to our cities to excite civil
war, that she will do every thing to destroy us. Our resolution and
spirit are our only dependence. Although I feel warm upon this subject,
I pride myself upon those feelings, and should despise myself if I were
destitute of them.’

Mr. Randolph still persisted in his intemperate opposition, averring
that public sentiment was not in favor of either the embargo or war,
and said that he had ‘known gentlemen not inferior in gallantry, in
wisdom, in experience, in the talents of a statesman, to any upon the
floor, consigned to oblivion for advocating a war upon the public
sentiment.’ That the public mind was averse to these measures, Mr. Clay
proved to be not true, by citing the great unanimity in the southern
and western states, among both federalists and republicans, and the
unequivocal resolutions of _fourteen state legislatures_ in favor of
both. If possible, Mr. Randolph was exceeded in the fierceness of his
opposition by Mr. Josiah Quincy of Massachusetts; at least by the low
and scurrilous language in which he expressed it. He condemned the
embargo as treasonable to the interests of the nation, as absurd and
contrary to common sense. He boasted of having sent, in connection with
his colleagues, expresses to the eastern cities, in the expectation
that an embargo would be laid, that information to that effect might
be given to merchants, so that they could obtain clearances for their
vessels before it should take effect. Said he, ‘we did it to escape
into the jaws of the British lion and of the French tiger, which are
places of repose, of joy and delight, when compared with the grasp and
fang of this hyena embargo. Look now upon the river below Alexandria,
and you will see the sailors towing down their vessels as from a
pestilence, against wind and tide, anxious to escape from a country
which would destroy instead of preserving them. I object to it because
it is no efficient preparation, because it is not a progress towards
honorable war, but a subterfuge from the question. If we must perish,
let us perish by any hand except our own; any fate is better than

In meeting the storm of opposition which raged like a tempest around
him, Mr. Clay is represented to have been ‘a flame of fire.’ He had
now brought congress to the verge of what he conceived to be a war for
liberty and honor, and his voice, inspired by the occasion, ran through
the capitol like a trumpet-tone sounding for the onset. On the subject
of the policy of the embargo, his eloquence, like a Roman phalanx, bore
down all opposition, and he put to shame those of his opponents who
flouted the government as being unprepared for war. ‘Why is it,’ he
exclaimed, indignantly, ‘that we are no _better_ prepared? Because
the gentlemen themselves have thrown every possible obstacle in our
way! They have opposed the raising of an army――the fitting out of a
naval armament――the fortification of our frontiers――and now talk of
the madness of engaging in a war for which we are not _prepared_! It
is asked what new cause of war? In reply I will ask what _old_ cause of
war is avenged? Has Great Britain abstained from impressing our seamen?
I have no doubt but that the late Indian hostilities on the Wabash were
excited by the British. Is not this cause of war?’

There was no withstanding his eloquent and patriotic appeals. They made
every heart in the house vibrate and glow with intense desire to arouse
and avenge the aggravated abuse heaped upon us by our foreign foe.

After an ineffectual attempt to procure an amendment to the bill by
extending the embargo to ninety days, it passed by a vote of seventy
to forty-one. It was then sent to the senate, which introduced the
amendment proposed in the house, which was adopted by it, and after
receiving the signature of the president, it became the law of the land
on the fourth day of April.

Now war had become the settled policy of the nation; indeed the first
initiatory step was taken. The Rubicon had been approached, and not
to cross it would entail disgrace. Congress, therefore, set vigorously
about preparing for war. The tardy procedure of government in bringing
the subject to a crisis, it was thought would operate prejudicially in
its prosecution, by allowing the eagerness and zeal then so prevalent
for the conflict to subside. A result of the correspondence then
going on between America and England, and which was continued after
the embargo had taken effect, was, to render undecided a large and
patriotic portion of the people, who were earnest in demanding redress,
but as long as there was the slightest prospect of obtaining it by
negotiation, chose to delay rather than meet the expenses and horrors
of war. Hopes were entertained, from time to time, by the tone of the
British minister’s communications, that all differences between the two
nations would be pacifically arranged. But it soon appeared obvious,
that nothing satisfactory would be proposed by him, that Great Britain
had an ulterior object in view, in causing such expectations to be
created, and that it would be better to abandon at once, and forever,
all reliance upon this mode of procedure, resorted to from motives
of the most amicable nature, on the part of the United States, and
pursued so long and faithfully, yet ineffectully. Hope finally fled,
though reluctantly and with a heavy heart, casting many ‘a lingering
look behind,’ and ‘grim visaged war’ assumed her place. The most
amicably disposed threw down the olive branch, and seized the sword.
Remonstrance, entreaty, argument, and forbearance had been exhausted,
and the nation, conscious of the righteousness of her cause, arose,
buckled on her armor, and appealed to the God of battles for the
maintenance of her rights.

Mr. Clay was one of a deputation appointed to wait upon Mr. Madison,
to urge upon him the pressing necessity of making speedy and efficient
preparation for the event which would inevitably occur. The views of
congress, and of the country generally, relative to the subject of
war, he spread before the president, argued that it was impolitic to
waste any more time in fruitless negotiation, and expressed his sincere
conviction, that, with their present resources, and those of which
they could avail themselves, judiciously employed, as they would be
by patriotic and indignant freemen, no alarming apprehensions need
be entertained respecting the nature of the result. The muscular and
mental energies of a free and united yeomanry of an independent and
enlightened nation, arrayed in defence of _home_ and every thing that
made it happy, he believed constituted a force invincible――one that
could not be crushed by the hireling soldiery of the combined powers
of Europe.

The president, though inclined to advance with extreme caution, whose
trepidation was increased by several members of his cabinet opposed to
warlike movements, was nerved with fresh courage and fired with fresh
patriotism, by the energetic remarks of Mr. Clay, and induced to hasten
the blow from the axe of executive power, which alone could burst the
bands which bound and restrained the thunderbolt of war.

About this time, while in the exercise of his official prerogative, Mr.
Clay became entangled in a disagreeable controversy with Mr. Randolph.
This gentleman, though possessing talents and eloquence of a high
order, employed them in such a manner as to make himself distinguished
for the most extravagant eccentricities and wild vagaries. There had
existed not the most cordial understanding between him and Mr. Clay,
during several months previous. Their intercourse was not very uniform;
sometimes it would be suspended for weeks, when not a word would be
spoken by either to the other. The great difficulty of living on terms
of intimacy or common civility even, with Mr. Randolph, caused Mr.
Clay to adopt this course. He did not desire to offend the capricious
gentleman, nor to place himself in a situation to receive offence from
him. Occasionally, when the milk of human kindness was superabundant in
his heart, Mr. Randolph would approach, and in the most honied accents
and blandest manner, salute Mr. Clay and inquire after his health, with
every demonstration of regard.

One of Mr. Randolph’s peculiarities was exceeding uneasiness under
restriction; indeed, he seldom quietly submitted to any parliamentary
restraint, however necessary and salutary. He regarded the rules of
the house as trammels and shackles, more honored by the breach than
observance, and struggled violently against their enforcement in his
case. During the day previous to that when the controversy mentioned
occurred, Mr. Clay, in conversing with a friend of Mr. Randolph,
remarked that the president would probably transmit a message to
congress, recommending a declaration of war, on the following Monday.
This information was communicated to Mr. Randolph, who the next morning
appeared in his seat, and commenced one of his usual windy harangues,
without submitting any motion to the house. After discussing some time
the subject of our foreign relations, although he well knew that such
discussion was designed to be strictly private, manifesting more than
his accustomed hostility to declaring war with Great Britain, and zeal
in justifying her cruelties towards the United States, he was called
to order, on the ground that there was no resolution before the house.
Mr. Bibb, being in the chair, suffered him to proceed. Soon after,
Mr. Clay resumed his seat, when he was again called to order, and
required to submit his motion in writing to the chair. Mr. Clay
observed that a standing rule of the house rendered it incumbent on
any member who attempted to address it, after a few pertinent prefatory
remarks, to submit his proposition in due form to the house, and then
confine his remarks to it. ‘My proposition,’ said Mr. Randolph, ‘is
that it is not expedient at this time, to resort to a war with Great
Britain.’ He expressed great surprise when it was decided by the
speaker that he could not proceed to discuss his proposition unless
it was seconded and reduced to writing. ‘Then I appeal from that
decision.’ The speaker briefly stated his reasons for his decision,
which was sustained by a vote of sixty-seven to forty-two. ‘Then, sir,
under the compulsion to submit my motion in writing, I offer it,’ said
Mr. Randolph. The speaker replied, ‘there is no compulsion in the case,
because the gentleman may or may not offer it, at his option.’ The
motion was read from the chair, and the speaker observed that the house
must first agree to consider it, before it could be in order to debate
it. From this decision Mr. Randolph appealed, but at the suggestion of
a friend, withdrew his appeal. Mr. Clay made a brief speech, justifying
his decision, and then put the question whether the house would
consider Mr. Randolph’s resolution. It was rejected by a vote of
seventy-two to thirty-seven.

Mr. Randolph, thus compelled to take his seat, was greatly chagrined.
On the following day he published a vindictive address to his
constituents, in which he inveighed in the most bitter terms against
Mr. Madison’s administration, declaring that the movements that
had been made in reference to war, were not made with the intention
of promoting the welfare of the country, and desired those whom he
represented not to sanction the proposed declaration. Freedom of speech
he declared had been invaded; that for the first time in the person
of their representative had it been decided, that silence must be
maintained upon the most important subject that could be brought
forward for legislative action. He characterized this as ‘usurpation,
more flagitious than any which had ever been practiced under the reign
of terror by the father of the sedition laws, and the people must
interfere and apply a remedy or bid adieu to a free government forever.’

Mr. Clay noticed this singular paper in a communication over his own
name, which was published in the National Intelligencer reviewing
briefly the controversy, stating the grounds of his action in relation
to it, and established the two following principles: ‘that the house
had a right to know through its organ, the specific motion which a
member intends making before he undertakes to argue it at large, and
that it reserves to itself the exercise of the power of determining
whether it will consider it at the particular time when offered, prior
to his thus proceeding to argue it.’ These principles have subsequently
formed the rule in the house in similar cases, the operation of which
has tended, in no small degree, to promote the interests of the country,
by restraining within proper bounds the freedom of debate.

On the first of June, the president despatched to the house a message,
containing a summary statement of our grievances demanding reparation,
narrating the various pacific and often repeated attempts of the
United States to adjust all existing difficulties with Great Britain,
remarking the cold indifference or haughty repulse with which the
latter had invariably met the amicable advances of the former, and
recommending to the early consideration of congress the question
whether the United States should ‘continue passive under these
progressive usurpations and these accumulating wrongs, or opposing
force to force in defence of their natural rights, should commit a just
cause into the hands of the almighty disposer of events.’ An ‘immediate
appeal to _arms_’ was recommended in a report of the committee on
foreign relations, to whom the message was referred, on the eighteenth,
and the act declaring war passed both houses of congress the same day,
and on the nineteenth Mr. Madison issued his proclamation, declaring
hostilities as actually commenced. On the sixth of July congress
adjourned, to assemble on the first Monday in November.

The crisis towards which so many eyes had long been directed, had at
last come――a crisis which, though sought by government, was sought
reluctantly. Any measure that would have obviated its necessity, had
been embraced with eager joy. Every expedient was resorted to, in
order to prevent the waste of treasures and effusion of blood, with
which it would be attended. The great master spirits, Messrs. Clay,
Lowndes, Cheves and Calhoun, the bold pioneers in paving the way to
and hastening on this crisis, did not attempt to shrink from their
duty, nor to shake off the solemn responsibility which they assumed
to their country in undertaking to conduct the ark of her liberties,
now when they had guided it into the roaring vortex of war. They did
not prove recreant to the precious trusts committed to their care,
by traitorously deserting their posts. Though the billows of fierce
conflict dashed against its sides, they did not withdraw the hand
that had hitherto supported it. There was no looking back, no cowardly
avoiding of danger, but shoulder to shoulder manfully they breasted
the dark surges of belligerent strife, until in safety the harbor of
success was finally attained.

With the view of shortening the conflict and ameliorating the condition
of those engaged in it as much as possible, previous and subsequent to
the declaration of war, they sought to place the financial department
of the nation in a situation to meet the demands that would be made
upon it in case of that event. In pursuance of this view, the secretary
of the treasury, Mr. Gallatin, whose reputation for financiering
stood high, was selected to devise and report a system that should
accomplish the desired object. The public disappointment was excessive
when his report appeared, which, instead of exhibiting any new feature
in finance――instead of deriving revenue from the vast, existing
and appropriate national sources――proposed to obtain it in the
old obnoxious ways from excise, stamp duties, &c. Although deeply
regretting that a more efficient plan was not provided, still, with a
spirit that seemed resolved to turn to the best possible account the
propositions of the secretary, they commenced levying taxes according
to his plan. To this end Mr. Cheves, chairman of the committee of ways
and means, diligently employed himself in preparing bills, whose object
was the raising of revenue. After their completion and presentation,
a discovery was made that well nigh proved fatal to this. It was
ascertained through the efforts of Mr. Smiley, an intimate friend
of the secretary of the treasury, that both he and the president
were opposed to levying taxes at the time of the declaration of war,
declaring ‘that the people would not take both war and taxes together.’

The non-concurrence of the executive in their financial scheme,
was a source of bitter though unavailing regret to Mr. Clay and his
coadjutors. It was, to be sure, defective, but had not this insuperable
obstacle been interposed in the way of its being carried out, the
treasury would have been to a considerable extent replenished with
funds; the early want of which was a serious detriment felt during
the whole war. To the influence of Mr. Gallatin, in a great measure,
doubtless, the opposition of Mr. Madison to the conjunction of the two
measures was owing. He was very susceptible of influence, especially
from those in whom he reposed confidence, such as he did in the
secretary. The same kind of influence, inducing him to procrastinate a
declaration of war, Mr. Clay found him laboring under, when, as one of
a deputation, he was sent to wait on and urge him to delay no longer,
telling him that farther argument was useless, that the _ultima thule_
of talking had been reached, and that the time for prompt and vigorous
_action_ had arrived. To illustrate the difference between speaking and
writing, and _acting_, he repeated to Mr. Madison an anecdote of two
Kentucky judges. ‘One talked incessantly from the bench. He reasoned
every body to death. He would deliver an opinion, and first try to
convince the party that agreed with him, and then the opposite party.
The consequence was that business lagged, the docket accumulated,
litigants complained, and the community were dissatisfied. He was
succeeded by a judge who never gave any reasons for his opinion, but
decided the case simply for the plaintiff or defendant. His decisions
were rarely reversed by the appellate court, the docket melted away,
litigants were no longer exposed to ruinous delay, and the community
were contented.’ This humorous sally of Mr. Clay occasioned the
president much mirth, who replied by relating an anecdote which
occurred to him, of a French judge, who, said he, after hearing the
arguments of the parties, put their papers in opposite scales, and
decided the case according to the preponderance of weight.

Attempts on the part of the United States to prevent hostilities, did
not cease until war had been declared, and even then a disposition
was manifested to put a speedy termination to them, for in one week
after this event, Mr. Jonathan Russell, our _chargé d’affaires_ at
the court of St. James, received instructions to agree to an armistice
as a preliminary to a treaty, provided the British government should
repeal her orders in council, and discontinue the impressment of our
seamen, and afterwards without insisting upon any particular agreement.
All our pacific efforts, however, were fruitless, our proposals
refused with disdain, and accompanied with language of reproach and
insult, even conveying the idea that the conduct of the United States
was pusillanimous. She refused to treat with us at all, unless as
preliminary we would recall our letters of marque and reprisal, and
cease all hostile acts towards British property and British subjects.
Such degrading conditions could never be submitted to by the United
States, although the federal party were willing and even clamorous to
comply with them. The virtue and patriotism of the people, however,
preponderated over all the vile attempts at causing the nation to
accept the disgraceful terms dictated by her haughty foe, to procure
the repose she desired. The middle of September found us still
endeavoring to procure an adjustment of our difficulties amicably.
The proposals of Mr. Russell, though of the most liberal nature, were
treated contemptuously, and at an interview on the seventeenth of
September, lord Castlereagh expressed great astonishment that American
commissioners should still continue to indulge the expectation that
the right of impressment should ever be relinquished, and even had the
arrogance to say that ‘_our_ friends in congress had been so confident
in that mistake, that they had ascribed the failure of such an
arrangement solely to the misconduct of the American government.’ The
demands of the British in insolence seemed to have no limits; asking if
the ‘United States would deliver up the native British seamen who might
be naturalized in America.’ ‘If,’ said lord Castlereagh, ‘the American
government was so anxious to get rid of the war, it would have an
opportunity of doing so, on learning the revocation of the orders in

It was sufficiently obvious now that nothing remained but to prosecute
the war as vigorously as possible. Our arms, in several cases, had
been unsuccessful. The circumstances of the delivery of Detroit into
the hands of the enemy by general Hull, were such as to render it
certain that treason had some agency in it. These disasters tended to
dampen the ardor of some, and to render more confident and blustering
demagogues and federalists, who went about croaking like birds of
ill omen, doing all in their power to infuse a spirit inimical to
the course then pursuing, and bring opprobrium on the administration
party. They continually referred to those partial failures as the sure
prognostics that the whole country would fall an easy prey to the enemy.

But these reverses were subsequently in a measure repaired, by the
successful and gallant achievements of a body of western volunteers,
led on by general Harrison, over the British and their allies, the
barbarous savages. Our brilliant victories on the sea were such as
to kindle up the expiring energies in the hearts of the despairing,
and to nerve to nobler deeds the intrepid. They evinced what could be
accomplished by determination and valor combined. The British frigate
Guerriere had been captured by captain Hull, commander of the frigate
Constitution; commodore Rodgers had rendered most signal service to our
commercial interests; all which tended to impart a fresh impulse to our
army and navy.

During the interval between the adjournment and re-assembling of
congress, Mr. Clay watched the progress of the war with the most
intense interest. _This was the all-absorbing subject of his soul_,
engaging its every faculty and principle; and the efforts which he made
to secure its successful termination were as strenuous as they were
unremitted. In public assemblies, in private circles, it was the theme
on which he dwelt continually, and around which he twined the richest
wreaths of his oratorical and colloquial skill. He always had a weapon
ready to prostrate the opposition of the federalist and demagogue,
however speciously presented. The grounds of encouragement to proceed,
and the prospect of ultimate success, were so clearly elucidated by
him, that the timid gathered confidence, and the bold redoubled their
energies. Hope and courage were his constant companions, from which
fear and cowardice fled away. These spread their animating influences
far and wide, and like a beacon light lit up the whole land. Had Mr.
Clay been engaged in a personal enterprize in which he had embarked
his all, where fortune, fame, reputation, and life itself were at
issue, he could not have manifested greater solicitude for the result,
or put forth more gigantic efforts to render it favorable, than he
did in relation to the war of the nation. If patriotism, undoubted
and unadulterated, be not deducible from his agency in originating,
prosecuting and consummating the war, on what page of the world’s
annals is it chronicled? The history of the Grecian and Roman republics
furnish many instances of exalted, self-sacrificing patriotism――of
those who under its influence met death as joyfully as they would have
met a friend. Inspired by this principle we hear one of their bards

               ‘Dulce est pro patria mori.’

                It is sweet to die for one’s country

But the lofty action of Mr. Clay in connection with this his country’s
crisis, his prompt response to her cry for aid, his unwavering
attachment to her cause, and his ardent devotion to her interests,
present an example of patriotic love and zeal, which may be placed by
the side of similar ones on the records of those nations, without the
slightest fear of disparagement,――indeed as justifying the belief that
if she had required a similar sacrifice, the victim would not have been

Mr. Clay advocated war, not as an experimental measure, not for the
purpose of furnishing him an opportunity of gratifying his ambitious
private projects, as his enemies desired it to be believed, but as the
_dernier resort_, as that only which could raise from her prostrate
condition his country, and restore her to that rank to which she was
entitled as an independent nation. The result proved the correctness
of his prediction, while it exposed the falsity of that pronouncing the
measure as certain to eventuate in her ruin.

When he first approached the subject, he found it surrounded by a cloud
of gloom, rendered dense and dark by the adverse circumstances of his
country, and which was made every day more murky by the unpatriotic
attitude of the disaffected, and the insidious efforts of the openly
hostile. To dispel this, all his energies were directed, and on the
re-assembling of congress, pursuant to adjournment, he was gratified
to behold some few glimmerings of light through the sombre mass. This
cheering indication, added to the reviving influence imparted to him
by his recent immediate contact with the people, fired his soul with an
irrepressible fervency, and caused the flame of his patriotic ardor to
burn so intensely as to consume all opposing materials. For this flame,
plenty of fuel was furnished by those, who evinced, by their deadly
hostility, a desire to see the unequal struggle then going on between
England and the United States, terminate in favor of the former. In
some, this hostility, breaking over all bounds of decency, vented
itself in the grossest lampoon. Their endeavors appeared more like
the spasmodic efforts of a drowning man, than the skilfully directed
attempts of enlightened opposers, as though they were determined, if
possible, to accomplish the fulfilment of their predictions, which now,
from the recent victorious feats of our arms, seemed quite dubious.
Soon after the commencement of the session, the first subject of
importance that came before the representatives of the people, was that
of increasing the army. Mr. Clay, and those whose views were coincident
with his, desired to concentrate the nation’s energies in prosecuting
the war to a glorious completion; to do which, fresh and gratifying
evidence had been given. To secure this, it was proposed to augment
the army by a recruit of twenty thousand men. The committee on military
affairs in the house reported a bill for the purpose, which was
considered in committee of the whole, and debated at length. From
the opposition, this proposition met the most violent assault, and also
those who supported it. The warmest opposers were found in the persons
of Messrs. Randolph, Pitkin and Quincy. The speech of the latter
gentleman is said to have ‘produced disgust on all sides of the house,’
and for violence and abuse stands unrivalled. Its most scurrilous
expressions have been expunged; enough, however, remains to determine
its original character. Speaking of the war, he observed, ‘there is
nothing in history like this war since the invasion of the bucaneers.
The disgrace of our armies is celestial glory compared to the disgrace
reflected on our country by this invasion;’ (the proposed invasion of
Canada;) ‘yet it is called a war for glory! Glory? Yes, such glory as
that of the tiger when he tears the bowels from the lamb, filling the
wilderness with its savage roars; the glory of Zenghis Khan, without
his greatness; the glory of Bonaparte. Far from me and mine, and far
from my country be such glory!’ He stigmatized those in favor of the
war as ‘household troops, who lounge for what they can pick up about
the government house; who come here, and with their families live
and suck upon the breast of the treasury; toad-eaters, who live on
eleemosynary, ill-purchased courtesy, upon the palace, swallow great
men’s spittle, and get judgeships, and wonder at the fine sights,
and fine rooms, and fine company, and most of all, wonder how they
themselves got there.’ The state of public feeling in Massachusetts
respecting the invasion, he stated by saying, that ‘he had conversed
upon the question with men of all ranks and conditions in Massachusetts,
with men hanging over the plough and on the spade, judicious, honest,
patriotic, sober men, who, if it were requisite, and their sense of
moral duty went along with the war, would fly to the standard of their
country at the winding of a horn, but who now hear yours with the
same indifference they would have heard a jews-harp or a banjo.’ He
was particularly severe on those in the house who advised the rigid
prosecution of the war, by calling them ‘young politicians, with the
pin-feathers yet unshed, the shell still sticking upon them; perfectly
unfledged, though they fluttered and cackled on the floor; who favored
such extravagant and ignorant opinions of a very proud nation.’ He said,
‘it would ill become a man whose family had been two centuries settled
in the state, and whose interests, connections and affections were
exclusively American, to shrink from his duty for the yelping of those
blood-hound mongrels who were kept in pay to hunt down all who opposed
the court; a pack of mangy hounds of recent importation; their backs
still sore with the stripes of European castigation, and their necks
marked with the check collar.’

Mr. Clay replied to him in a speech of most pointed yet merited rebuke,
and couched in language that stung like a scorpion. During the course
of his remarks, Mr. Quincy took occasion to travel out of his way to
attack the character of Mr. Jefferson. This uncalled for and unexpected
abuse of an aged ex-president, a patriot living in retirement, Mr. Clay
thus notices.

‘Neither his retirement from public office, his eminent services, nor
his advanced age, can exempt this patriot from the coarse assaults
of party malevolence. In 1801, he snatched from the rude hand of
usurpation the violated constitution of his country, and _that_ is his
crime. He preserved that instrument, in form, and substance, and spirit,
a precious inheritance for generations to come, and for _this_, he can
never be forgiven. How vain and impotent is party rage directed against
such a man! He is not more elevated by his lofty residence on the
summit of his own favorite mountain, than he is lifted by the serenity
of his mind, and the consciousness of a well-spent life, above the
malignant passions and bitter feelings of the day. No! his own beloved
Monticello is not less moved by the storms that beat against its sides,
than is this illustrious man by the howlings of the whole British pack
set loose from the Essex kennel.’

Speaking of the notoriety Mr. Quincy had gained by attempting to
impeach Mr. Jefferson a few years previous, he said, ‘the final vote
stood one for, and one hundred and seventeen against the proposition!’
(of impeachment.) ‘The same historic page that transmitted to posterity
the virtue and the glory of Henry the Great of France, for their
admiration and example, has preserved the infamous name of the frantic
assassin of that excellent monarch.’ Mr. Clay vindicated most ably
the character of that exalted patriot, from the foul aspersions
thus attempted to be cast upon it; after which, he alluded to the
vacillating course pursued by those opposed to the administration party,
in the following language. ‘The course of that opposition by which the
administration of the government has been unremittingly impeded for the
last twelve years, is singular, and I believe unexampled in the history
of any country. The administration has not been forgetful of its solemn
obligations. No art has been left unessayed, no experiment promising
a favorable result left untried, to maintain the peaceful relations
of the country. When some six or seven years ago, the affairs of the
nation assumed a threatening aspect, a partial non-importation was
adopted. As they grew more alarming an embargo was imposed. It would
have accomplished its purport, but it was sacrificed on the altar of
conciliation. Vain and fruitless attempt to propitiate! Then came along
the non-intercourse, and a general non-importation followed in the
train. In the mean time, any indications of a return to the public law
and the path of justice on the part of either belligerent, are seized
upon with avidity by the administration. The arrangement with Mr.
Erskine is concluded. It is first applauded, and then censured by the
opposition. No matter with what unfeigned sincerity, with what real
effort the administration cultivates peace, the opposition insist that
it alone is culpable for every breach that is made between the two
countries. Restriction after restriction has been tried. Negotiation
has been resorted to until further negotiation would have been
disgraceful. Whilst these peaceful experiments are undergoing a
trial, what is the conduct of the opposition? They are the champions
of war――the proud, the spirited, the sole repository of the nation’s
honor――the men of exclusive vigor and energy. The administration,
on the contrary, is weak, feeble, and pusillanimous――incapable of
being kicked into a war. The maxim, ‘not a cent for tribute, millions
for defence,’ is loudly proclaimed. The opposition is tired, sick,
disgusted with negotiation. They want to draw the sword and avenge the
nation’s wrongs. When, however, foreign nations, perhaps emboldened by
the very opposition here made, refuse to listen to the amicable appeals,
which have been repeated and reiterated by the administration, to
their justice and their interests――when, in fact, war with one of them
has become identified with our existence and our sovereignty, and to
abstain from it was no longer possible, behold the opposition veering
round and becoming the friends of peace and commerce. They tell you
of the calamities of war――its tragical events――the squandering away of
your resources――the waste of the public treasure, and the spilling of
innocent blood. Now we see them exhibiting the terrific forms of the
roaring king of the forest. Now the meekness and humility of the lamb.
They are for war and no restriction when the administration is for
peace. They are for peace and restrictions when the administration is
for war. You find them tacking with every gale, displaying the colors
of every party and of all nations, steady only in one unalterable
purpose, to steer if possible into the haven of power.’

Mr. Clay’s sentiments in relation to the British system of impressment
were of the most affecting description, drawing tears from the eyes of
almost every individual present, and concluded by saying, that ‘My plan
would be to call out the ample resources of the country, give them a
judicious direction, prosecute the war with the utmost vigor, strike
wherever we can reach the enemy at sea or on land, and negotiate the
terms of a peace at Quebec or Halifax. We are told that England is a
proud and lofty nation, which, disdaining to wait for danger, meets
it half way. Haughty as she is, we once triumphed over her, and if we
do not listen to the counsels of timidity and despair, we shall again
prevail. In such a cause, with the aid of Providence, we must come
out crowned with success; but if we fail, let us fail like men――lash
ourselves to our gallant tars, and expire together in one common
struggle, fighting for free trade and seamen’s rights.’

A correct idea of the effect produced it is impossible to gather from
his reported speech, though in general accurately given. Look, tone,
gesture, and manner contributed largely to its greatness,――perhaps
as much as the ‘thoughts that breathe and words that burn,’ which in
one continuous stream fell from his eloquent lips, causing the hearts
of his hearers to thrill alternately with pleasure and pain. It is
represented as having been an exquisite specimen of grand eloquence――a
felicitous blending of the beautiful, pathetic and sublime. He seemed
to wave the enchanted wand of the fabled magician, now spreading peace
and quiet, and now causing the most stormy emotions to swell the hearts
of those who listened to him. The editor of the National Intelligencer
says that the pathetic effect produced by the appeal admits not of
description. Although the day was extremely cold, so cold that Mr. Clay,
for the only time in his life, was unable to keep himself warm by the
exercise of speaking, there were few individuals in the house who did
not bear witness by their streaming eyes to the orator’s control over
their sensibilities. Members of both political parties――men whose
patriotic souls had been sustained by his eloquence, and those who
had been writhing and agonizing under his indignation, forgot their
antipathies and wept together.

Mr. Clay had the pleasure of seeing the bill, as advocated by him,
pass the house, on the fourteenth of January, 1813, by a vote of
seventy-seven to forty-two. On the sixteenth (having passed the senate,)
it received the signature of the president; and thus was taken another
and very important step in carrying out that system of manly and bold
resistance devised and introduced by him, and which was destined to
redress all our grievances and restore our violated rights.

On the eighteenth of February, congress proceeded to ascertain the
result of an election for president and vice president, which was as
follows. For president, James Madison, one hundred and twenty-eight,
De Witt Clinton, eighty-nine. For vice president, Elbridge Gerry,
one hundred and thirty-one, Jared Ingersoll, eighty-six. Thus the
re-election of Mr. Madison furnished undoubted evidence that the
people, from whom there is no appeal, sustained the measures of war.

On the twenty-fourth of May, Mr. Clay was elected speaker to the house
again, over Mr. Pitkin, by a majority of thirty-five, and whenever an
opportunity was afforded him, he mingled in the discussions that were
almost constantly agitating the house, in reference to prosecuting the
war. At the commencement of this, the first session of the thirteenth
congress, he called the attention of the house to that portion of the
president’s message which describes the manner in which the British had
been waging war: which characterized it as ‘adding to the savage fury
of it on one frontier, a system of plunder and conflagration on the
other, equally forbidden by respect for national character, and by the
established rules of civilized warfare.’ In a few pertinent remarks,
he adverted to this description embodied by the message, censuring
somewhat severely the nation guilty of such enormities, and said,
‘if they should be found to be as public report had stated them, they
called for the indignation of all christendom, and ought to be embodied
in an authentic document which might perpetuate them on the page
of history.’ An investigation instituted on a motion of Mr. Clay,
in reference to these, developed the astounding fact that the most
barbaric outrages were committed repeatedly, on American prisoners, by
the savage allies of the British, with their approval. The indignation
of the house was aroused to a high pitch, on learning the truth of the
report, which took immediate measures for causing to be laid before
it every instance of such flagrant violation of the rules of warfare
recognized by all civilized nations.

War had now become the settled policy and regular business of
the nation; a business which though at first she performed rather
bunglingly, was now despatched in a more workmanlike manner. The plough,
the spade, and the various implements of husbandry and mechanism, had
become partially forgotten, by the familiarity which had been effected
with the musket and the sword, so that greater skill was manifested
in the use of the latter, which resulted in greater success than
accompanied the first attempts at their use. York, the capital of Upper
Canada, had fallen into our hands, and five naval victories had been
achieved. Indecision and timidity had to a great extent disappeared,
and a spirit of indomitable determination had been made to take
their place, mainly through the irresistible influence of Mr. Clay’s
eloquent appeals. These were all-powerful, agitating the whole
nation, paralyzing opposition, and organizing and arraying the
talent, influence, and means of all classes, to do battle to death,
if necessary, in defence of our precious liberties. A noble and
enthusiastic feeling was diffused throughout the country. Public
opinion was far and wide aroused in favor of the war, and its majestic
roar shook down the unconsecrated temples of treason, and bared their
secrets to the light of heaven. Patriot answered aloud to patriot――the
sentinels of freedom caught up the watchword――from town to town the
signal fires flashed free, and all things proclaimed that the spirit
of the country was up for glory.

Both the friends and foes of Mr. Clay agree that at this period the
control he had acquired was almost unlimited. In the house it was
probably equal to that which he had acquired a few years previous in
the legislature of Kentucky. This was always exercised in the spirit of
the greatest liberality, and in such a manner as to promote the public
interests. Towards the close of 1813, negotiations for peace commenced,
at the suggestion of Alexander, the emperor of Russia, who proffered
his mediation between the two belligerent nations. On the part of the
United States, his proffer was favorably received, and a willingness
manifested to accede to it, accompanied with expressions of regret that
the commercial interests of Russia should be infringed or endangered
in any way by her collision with Great Britain. This was first formally
made at Washington, by the Russian minister, M. Daschkoff, as early
as March of the same year, and eagerly embraced by the president. It
had, however, several months previous, been hinted to Mr. Adams, our
minister at St. Petersburg, by the emperor himself, who manifested
great desire that hostilities should cease. On the part of Great
Britain his pacific proposition was rejected, who alleged that
the peculiar nature of her domestic and naval regulations rendered
incompatible its acceptance, but declared her perfect willingness to
treat with the American envoys, either at London, or Paris, or indeed
at any convenient place selected by the two powers. This proposal was
accepted, and the preliminary steps taken to accomplish the object
proposed. Messrs. Albert Gallatin and James A. Bayard were selected as
two of the commissioners for the United States, and directed to repair
without delay and join Mr. J. Q. Adams, at St. Petersburg, there to
await the further action of government.

A short time after, a proposal from the English ministry to negotiate
with us at Gottingen was accepted, and Messrs. Clay and Jonathan
Russell were selected commissioners, who, in connection with the three
in Russia, were invested with full power to treat with lord Gambier,
Henry Goulborne, and William Adamos, commissioners on the part of the
British government.

Although Gottingen had been first agreed upon as the city where
to conduct the negotiation, subsequently it was determined that
Ghent should be the place. The sixth of August, 1814, found the
plenipotentiaries of both nations (except Mr. Gallatin, who joined
them soon after,) at the latter city, ready to proceed with their
legitimate business. They commenced by a mutual interchange of kind
feeling, evincing a disposition to approach the subject in the true
spirit of conciliation, and to frame their stipulations so as to
subserve the interests of the powers they represented. In consequence
of the proximity of the British ministers to their government, they
enjoyed a superior advantage over the American commissioners, of which
they availed themselves freely, for whenever they received from the
latter a note of any importance, it was directly sent to London, where
its contents were carefully scrutinized by the English ministry, who
prepared and sent back an answer containing instructions, which were to
govern their actions in relation to it. This mode of procedure adopted
by them, greatly retarded the negotiation, while the remoteness of
the American negotiators from their government, made it impossible
for them to resort to a similar method. The plan which they adopted
on receiving a communication from the former, was to consider its
contents deliberately, and with great circumspection; after which it
was committed to the care of one of their number deputed to prepare an
answer. This underwent a rigid examination, when each member considered
it in private, making such alterations as he deemed proper. Afterwards
they all assembled and subjected them to a thorough scrutiny, which
terminated in their adoption or rejection. Their proceedings in detail
were never reported, so that it is impossible to state to what extent
they were influenced by each member of the diplomacy, but it is matter
of general credence that Mr. Clay, in their joint colloquial meetings,
bore a prominent part and exercised a controlling power over the
character of the stipulations. It is understood that Mr. Gallatin drew
up more official communications than any one of his associates, that
Mr. Adams ranked next, and Mr. Clay next. The various papers prepared
by these gentlemen during the period of their negotiation, which
continued about five months, furnish some of the finest specimens
of English composition. For purity of diction, terseness of style,
happy illustration, and logical construction, they will not suffer
in comparison with the best political disquisitions in the English

The favorable indications which appeared at the commencement of
the negotiation, soon gave place to those of a different character.
The tone of the British commissioners, in laying the foundation of
the treaty, soon became so dictatorial as almost to preclude the
possibility of proceeding with it. In enumerating the various subjects
which they designed to review and determine, besides the seizure of
mariners from merchantmen on the high seas, boundary line, and the
privileges heretofore enjoyed by the United States in carrying on their
fisheries within the limits of British jurisdiction, they declared as
a _sine qua non_ to the completion of the treaty, that it must embrace
provisions for rendering pacific the various Indian tribes within
our borders, for settling their boundaries by a specific treaty with
Great Britain, and that the right to purchase their lands without her
consent must be unconditionally ceded. On such grounds the American
commissioners unhesitatingly and unanimously refused to advance.
The overbearing and haughty pretensions and arbitrary demands thus
set up and insisted on at the very outset, seemed to interpose an
insurmountable barrier towards effecting an amicable and honorable
arrangement with our foe. Not only did she by prescription unadvised
with us, exhibit an intention to have it all in her own way, but
she avowed her design to obtain the control of certain islands in
Passamaquoddy Bay, over which our right of jurisdiction had not been
questioned up to that time, and to cause us to agree not to keep any
naval force on the lakes, nor garrison soldiers on their eastern shores.
The thought of submitting for a moment to such obnoxious exactions and
requisitions could not be tolerated, and the American commissioners
peremptorily informed them that negotiation under such circumstances
was entirely out of the question, and that an unqualified abandonment
of the objectionable portion of their demands must be complied with,
before their consent to proceed another step in the business could be
obtained. They saw it was requisite to be thus decided, in order to
put an early and effectual stop to such unwarrantable assumptions and
encroachments, which, if quietly submitted to, they clearly foresaw (by
their maintaining a right to ‘vary and regulate their demands,’) would
be indefinitely extended. In their first despatches to Washington,
therefore, instead of holding out any encouragement of success, they
stated that there was no ‘hope of peace.’ Immediately after their
arrival, they were spread before the people by the public journalists,
whose indignation was greatly augmented, on becoming acquainted with
treatment ostensibly given for the purpose of consummating a treaty of
peace on grounds of mutual reciprocity, but which in reality recognized
the nation with whom it was to be effected, as enslaved rather than
free. The demands of England were characterized as ‘arrogant, insulting
to the United States, meriting instantaneous rejection, and demanding
the united exertions of every citizen of these states, in the vigorous
prosecution of the war until it shall be terminated in a just and
honorable peace.’

The publication of their despatches was not anticipated by our
commissioners, and great was their astonishment on perusing them in
the newspapers at Ghent. Their fears were excited lest it should have
an unfavorable bearing on the negotiations, if it did not put an abrupt
period to them. The English negotiators maintained a guarded silence
on the subject. Mr. Clay being solicitous to ascertain their opinions
in relation thereto, addressed them, beginning with lord Gambier, whom
he accosted by saying, ‘you perceive, my lord, that our government has
published our despatches, and that now the whole world knows what we
are doing here.’ ‘Yes,’ said he, ‘I have seen it with infinite surprise,
and the proceeding is without example in the civilized world.’ ‘Why, my
lord,’ said Mr. Clay, mildly, ‘you must recollect that at the time of
the publication of those despatches, our government had every reason
to suppose, from the nature of the pretensions and demands which yours
brought forward, that our negotiation would not terminate successfully,
and that the publication would not find us here together. I am quite
sure that if our government had anticipated the present favorable
aspect of our deliberations, the publication of the despatches would
not have been ordered. Then your lordship must also recollect, that
if, as you truly asserted, the publication of despatches pending a
negotiation is not according to the custom of European diplomacy, our
government is organized on principles totally different from those
on which European governments are constituted. With us, the business
in which we are here engaged is the people’s business. We are their
servants, and they have a right to know how their business is going on.
The publication, therefore, was to give the people information of what
ultimately affected them.’

Although unable to controvert this explanation by Mr. Clay, of the
reasons for publishing the official papers relative to the negotiation,
he expressed himself not perfectly satisfied with it, and his opinion
was concurred in by his colleagues. However, the injurious consequences
apprehended from their publication were not experienced, and the
business of the treaty proceeded as if it had not been made.

Mr. Clay reciprocated an act of kindness of Mr. Goulborne, who had
sent him a British periodical containing an account of the taking of
Washington by the arms of his nation, by sending to him some American
papers which he had recently received, describing a splendid victory
won on lake Champlain or lake Erie, by the navy of _his_ country over
that of the British.

After the receipt of such unpleasant intelligence from Ghent, it was
resolved that redoubled energy should be put forth in pushing forward
the war, which caused the noble feats of our gallant navy and army
to be greatly multiplied. At Plattsburgh, Chippewa, and many other
places, victory perched upon our banner. The hearts of our hardy
sailors gathered fresh strength, whose successful attempts in annoying
the enemy by capturing his trading vessels, caused the most bitter
lamentations throughout his realm, and underwriters to advance their
rates of insurance between England and Ireland from three-fourths of
one to five per cent. The determined spirit thus evinced by us, Great
Britain correctly attributed to the arbitrarily assumptive course which
she attempted to pursue in conducting the negotiations at Ghent; a
spirit which she had the sagacity to discover would never brook the
slightest shade of vassalage, or permit the acceptance of dishonorable
terms, and also the wisdom to avert the destructive consequences which
her varied and wide-spread interests would certainly sustain from the
aggressions of those actuated by it, in speedily removing the causes
by which it was aroused. A recession was immediately made, not only
by the British ministers, who reduced their _sine qua non_ so as to
require only the effection of Indian pacification, but by the public
journalists in both England and her provinces. They spoke in more
respectful terms of the United States, and abated to a good extent
their domineering attempts. Still some of the objectionable terms
proposed at first as the basis of an arrangement, were adhered to.
The cession of such a portion of our territory as should secure a
permanent and safe communication to England between Quebec and Halifax,
was required pertinaciously. The American commissioners assumed
the responsibility, at the risk of breaking off the negotiation, of
rejecting such terms, and indeed all that did not come within the limit
of their instructions, by informing the English commissioners, that it
was perfectly fruitless, besides a waste of time, to bring forward and
attempt to connect with the treaty, subjects respecting which they were
not empowered to negotiate; subjects which were many of them foreign
to their purpose, had no natural relation to it, and which if desirable
might be definitely settled by subsequent negotiation, without being
made a party to their present proposed arrangement. They affirmed
that they had ‘no relation to the subsisting differences between the
two countries; they are inconsistent with acknowledged principles of
public law; they are founded neither on reciprocity nor on any of the
usual bases of negotiation, neither on that of the _uti possidetis_
or of _status ante bellum_; they would inflict the most vital injury
on the United States by dismembering their territory, by arresting
their natural growth and increase of population, and by leaving their
northern and western frontiers equally exposed to British invasion and
Indian aggression; they are above all dishonorable to the United States,
in demanding from them to abandon territory and a portion of their
citizens, to admit a foreign interference in their domestic concerns,
and to cease to exercise their natural rights on their own shores and
in their own waters. A treaty concluded on such terms would be but
an armistice. It cannot be supposed that America would long submit
to conditions so injurious and degrading. It is impossible, in the
natural course of events, that she should not, at the first favorable
opportunity, recur to arms for the recovery of her territory, of her
rights, and her honor. Instead of settling existing difficulties, such
a peace would only create new causes of war, sow the seeds of permanent
hatred, and lay the foundation of hostilities for an indefinite period.
It is not necessary to refer such demands to the American government
for its instruction. They will be only a fit subject of deliberation
when it becomes necessary to decide upon the expediency of an absolute
surrender of national independence.’

There was no mistaking the meaning of such language, respectful but
pungent, expressing perspicuously the true principles of diplomatic
action. Although it was self-evident that the spirit which dictated
such sentiments as that communication contained, would not allow
any truckling or swerving, still the British negotiators appeared
determined to persevere until they accomplished what from the very
commencement seemed to be to them a favorite feature in the treaty,
viz: _the exposure of our whole northern frontier to the mercy of
their nation_. She found that the Indian hordes could be advantageously
employed by her, indeed she had already employed them to such an
extent as to give, so far as she was concerned, a most truculent
aspect to the war; hence the invincible determination manifested by
her legalized commissioners, to have the treaty so framed as to secure
to her their absolute control. This disposition was regarded by the
American commissioners with feelings not only of regret, but of horror,
who protested against ‘the employment of savages, whose known rule of
warfare is the indiscriminate torture and butchery of women, children,
and prisoners,’ as constituting ‘a departure from the principles of
humanity observed between all civilized and christian nations even in
war.’ They stated that instead of endeavoring to effect _that control_,
it would be much more comportable with the dignity and grandeur of
the British nation to abandon forever the barbarous practice, and to
stipulate with America to that purpose in case of waging any future
war with her. They would not recede an inch from the ground which they
had taken, in relation to the Indians and northern frontier. After
directing their combined diplomatic artillery against them for the
space of several weeks incessantly, to drive them from it, but without
the slightest success, the British diplomatists finally abandoned
it. Soon after the American commissioners proposed to guaranty the
pacification of the Indians when the treaty should be ratified, and
expressed their unaltered determination to treat upon no subjects
respecting which they had received no instructions. To this their
opponents acceded, and the negotiation proceeded, the American
commissioners dictating nearly all the terms, and finally issued in
the production of a treaty, on the twenty-fourth of December, 1814.

Throughout the negotiation the utmost unanimity prevailed among our
ministers, and never was there a difference of opinion, except in
one instance. This related to certain fishery privileges, and the
navigation of the Mississippi river.

In a treaty of peace concluded in 1783, between Great Britain and
the United States, it was stipulated that the latter should enjoy the
liberty of taking fish of every kind on all the banks of Newfoundland,
Grand Bank, gulf of St. Lawrence, and in all other places where the
inhabitants of both countries had been accustomed to fish――that the
same should be enjoyed on all the coasts, bays and creeks of his
Britannic majesty’s dominions in America; that she should have full
permission to dry and cure fish in the unsettled bays, &c. of Nova
Scotia, Magdalen Islands, and Labrador, so long as they should remain
unsettled, but that after they were settled, such permission must be
sanctioned by their occupants; and also that the Mississippi river
should be open forever to the navigation of both nations, from its
mouth to its source. The latter stipulation was included in a treaty
negotiated by Mr. Jay, in 1794.

The United States, anticipating that the subjects of the fisheries and
navigation of the Mississippi would be brought forward by the British
government, had directed the secretary of state, Mr. Monroe, to give
her commissioners special instructions relative to them. He accordingly
authorized them, in case she should require the United States to
relinquish her fishing privileges, to treat the requisition as it
deserved. They were given to understand that these privileges must
not be brought into the discussion, and that, if insisted on, their
negotiations must terminate. He instructed them not to grant to
Great Britain the right to navigate any river within the exclusive
jurisdiction of the United States.

At an early stage of the negotiation, it had been intimated to the
American commissioners by the British, that the privilege in question
would not be renewed, unless the United States offered something to
Great Britain which should be deemed an ample equivalent. The subject
of this equivalent caused the difference of opinions to which allusion
has been made. Mr. Adams contended that no equivalent could or ought to
be demanded for the right of fishing stipulated in the treaty of 1783.
He did not believe with his colleagues, that the article in that treaty,
relating to this right, expired at the commencement of the war, but
contended that it had survived the war, and that therefore it was
absurd to treat concerning the _renewal_ of a right, of which they were
then in the legitimate possession. The great importance of preserving
this right unabridged was felt by all. Mr. Gallatin went so far as to
propose to permit Great Britain to exercise the right of navigating the
Mississippi as an equivalent for that of fishing in the waters within
her jurisdiction. After a warm debate, Messrs. Adams, Gallatin and
Bayard declared themselves in favor of doing so, and Messrs. Clay and
Russell opposed. Mr. Clay then affirmed, that his signature should not
be appended to a treaty including such a proposition, who was joined
soon after by Mr. Bayard, and consequently it was not included. A most
animated discussion ensued, in which Mr. Clay demonstrated the impolicy
of extending such a privilege to Great Britain, contended that America
ought to come out of the war in the ♦unimpaired possession of all the
rights and privileges which she enjoyed prior to its commencement, and
that the right of discussing the question of the fisheries did not come
within the purview of their instructions. In regard to the navigation
of the Mississippi, a mere glance at its unlimited connections and
dependencies, the vast advantage which an easy access to them would
confer, rendered no deliberation requisite in deciding upon granting a
right to it to Great Britain. It would be almost tantamount to placing
in her hands a tube communicating with the very vitals of the republic,
through which she could suck its life blood; it would give her
unbounded facilities for employing against us the numerous tribes of
Indians at the north west, of which she would doubtless with avidity
avail herself, and greatly to our detriment, and thus jeopard the great
and growing interests of the whole west. As it respected the right
which she imagined she possessed in virtue of the treaties of 1783
and 1794, Mr. Clay contended that the grounds upon which it was based
were supposititious, and that therefore it could not be valid; that at
the dates of those treaties, it was supposed that the law of nations
would entitle her to the right, inasmuch as it was believed that her
dominions bordered on the Upper Mississippi, and that this supposed
bordering of her territory on the river, was the principal reason
adduced in stipulating for the right of its navigation; that now since
it was certainly determined and known, that such was not the fact, she
possessed no natural grounds on which to found the right; that Spain
at the date of those treaties owned the entire western bank of the
river from its mouth to its source, and consequently possessed an
equal interest with the United States in its navigation, who could not,
therefore, convey to a third party that interest, or any portion of
it, unsanctioned by the former; that in 1803, by purchase, the United
States became possessed of the entire Spanish interest, which placed
her upon different grounds from those on which she stood in 1783 and
1794. Besides, Mr. Clay argued, what connection is there between the
fishing privilege, and the right of navigating the Mississippi? The
treaties showed none, their nature none. Why select as the equivalent
for the privilege, the Mississippi? Why not barter the Potomac, or the
Hudson for it? There was something calculated to excite suspicion in
this attempt of our powerful enemy to introduce her invincible navy to
the ‘father of rivers.’ It looked like feeling for the _purse-strings
of the nation_. He would as soon yield a portion of her blood-bought
territory, as this noblest of her streams, to become the resort of the
British lion, where he might make his permanent lair, and eventually
place his huge paw upon the crest of her eagle. Though as anxious
as his colleagues possibly could be for the preservation of their
fishing privileges, he could not consent to effect it by a purchase so
expensive as that proposed. Thus Mr. Clay remained immovably determined
to act in accordance with his convictions of duty in consulting the
interests of that nation which he represented. The value of those
interests, undoubtedly secured by the decided position which he assumed
and maintained, is of such magnitude as to be inappreciable; they
constitute a corner stone of the temple of liberty, destined to abide
as long as she shall make it her abode.

Subsequently to the British ministers’ becoming acquainted with the
conclusion of the American commissioners, respecting the exchange,
they, in a counter project of a treaty, submitted to the latter,
proposed among other articles one to renew the right of navigation
in question, without any equivalent. After much deliberation this was
rejected. Finally, it was mutually agreed by both parties to refrain
from inserting any article in the treaty, relating either to the
fisheries or the navigation of the Mississippi. Thus the pride of the
west and the glory of America was suffered to roll his majestic tide
in beauty and grandeur to the ocean, unburthened by foreign vessels and
unfettered by regal sway.

Several years afterwards, Mr. Clay became involved in an unpleasant
controversy between Messrs. Russell and Adams, which originated from
something connected with their negotiations at Ghent. On the day next
subsequent to the signing of the treaty, the commissioners drew up a
sketch of their discussions in relation to the difference of opinion
among them, concerning complying with the demands of the British
commissioners, which represented the offer of the navigation of the
Mississippi as made by a _majority_ of the American plenipotentiaries.
At the same time, Mr. Russell communicated to Mr. Monroe the fact of
his being in the minority in that offer, and declared his intention
of submitting his reasons for disagreeing with his associates, at a
future convenient period, which he subsequently carried into effect.
These papers were deposited among the documents of the nation, where
they remained till 1822, when they were placed before the house of
representatives, at its request, by the president, together with a
private communication from Mr. Russell, purporting to be a duplicate
of one found among the private papers of the president. A statement was
made by each of these letters, between which there was a discrepancy,
which caused Mr. Adams to reprimand Mr. Russell severely, through
the medium of the press. Mr. Clay addressed a letter to Mr. Russell
designed to be private, in which he signified his acquiescence in
the reprimand, and also gave a concise statement of their debates
connected with their disagreement. It appeared that Mr. Adams was
laboring under the impression that Mr. Clay coincided with him
in construing the treaties of 1783 and 1794, or that part of them
referring to the fisheries and Mississippi, from the fact of his
signature being attached to the communication of the American to the
British commissioners, embodying the views of the former in relation to
them. Mr. Clay corrected that impression by declaring that he had not
concurred with him. He stated that his object in advising the insertion
of the words ‘_a majority_,’ in the despatch to the secretary of state,
was to announce to his government the fact of a division among them,
and with the view of concealing it from the power with whom they were
treating, he appended his signature to the communication. The dispute
was maintained some time between Messrs. Russell and Mr. Adams, and
with great acrimony, but no impeachment of Mr. Clay’s conduct or
motives was attempted by either. Both awarded to him the honor of
having acted well his part, in bringing to so felicitous a consummation
the treaty of peace.

Immediately after the close of the negotiation, Mr. Clay repaired
to Paris, having resolved not to visit England until he learned
the ratification of the treaty. At the request of Mr. Crawford, our
minister at Paris, he took lodgings in his hotel, where he found an
invitation to a ball, given by Mr. Hottinguer, the American banker, in
honor of the conclusion of the treaty. There he was introduced to the
celebrated madame de Stael, and had a pleasant interview with her.

She informed him that she had recently visited England, and had openly
espoused the cause of the United States there, remarking that the
British were greatly exasperated against them, and entertained serious
intentions of despatching the duke of Wellington at the head of their
armies, for the purpose of inflicting proper, and as they thought
well merited chastisement upon them. He politely thanked her for the
interest she had manifested in behalf of his country, at the same time
expressing his regret that England had not carried out her _intentions_.
‘Why?’ said she. ‘Because, madame, if he had beaten us, we should only
have been in the condition of Europe, without disgrace. But if we had
been so fortunate as to defeat him, we should have greatly added to the
renown of our arms.’

He afterwards met her at a select coterie at her own dwelling, where
he found the marshals of France, duke of Wellington, and many other
persons of rank. On introducing Mr. Clay to the duke, madame de Stael
repeated the above anecdote. He replied promptly and gracefully, that
had he been so fortunate in the execution of such a commission as to
triumph over a foe evincing as much bravery as the Americans had, he
should regard it as a greater honor than the most brilliant victory he
had ever achieved.

Mr. Clay tarried at the French metropolis two months, during which
time news of the glorious victory at New Orleans was communicated to
him, whereupon he was heard to remark, ‘now I can go to England without
mortification.’ He expressed, however, much chagrin at the reported
flight of a body of Kentucky militia from the field of battle on that
occasion, but declared his belief, from a personal acquaintance with
their bravery, that it must be false.

Soon after, he went to England, where the treaty had been ratified
formally, a few days previous to his leaving Paris. In England
he received the most marked attention, and formed many valuable
acquaintances, which subsequently proved a source of pleasure and
profit to him. He won the esteem of lord Castlereagh, who treated
him with particular politeness, offering to present him to the
prince regent, which Mr. Clay civilly declined, in consequence of
his unwillingness to submit to the courtly formalities of such an

Several days had elapsed, when he was informed by his host that an
individual desired to speak with him. Mr. Clay requested that he might
be admitted, who accordingly was, who proved to be a person splendidly
dressed, and, refusing to be seated at Mr. Clay’s request, announced
himself as the first waiter of my _lord Castlereagh_! ‘Indeed!’ replied
Mr. Clay, ‘what is your pleasure with me?’ ‘Why, if your excellency
pleases,’ said the man, ‘it is usual for a foreign minister when he is
presented to lord Castlereagh to make to his first waiter a present,
or pay the customary stipend;’ at the same time presenting him with a
catalogue of names of foreign ministers, with the amount that each had
paid him placed opposite his name.

Mr. Clay, believing it a vile attempt to extort money from him,
endeavored to get rid of him in the easiest way possible, by saying
that he was not the minister to England; that Mr. Adams, who was, would
probably soon arrive from Paris, who would doubtless comply with the
custom of the country in that respect. The servant, not being inclined
to release him so easily, quickly replied, that it was immaterial
whether he was a resident or special minister. Mr. Clay thought finally
that the most effectual way to release himself, was to comply with his
demand, and presented him a small sum.

While he was at London the battle of Waterloo was fought, and he
witnessed the public rejoicings on account of its favorable termination
to the British. He was one day dining at lord Castlereagh’s house in
company with many of the nobility, when the conversation turned on
the late victory, and the whereabouts of Napoleon, as it was not known
where he had gone. Some intimated that he had sailed for America. ‘If
he goes there,’ said lord Liverpool to Mr. Clay, ‘will he not give you
much trouble?’ ‘None whatever,’ instantly replied Mr. Clay, ‘we shall
be glad to receive such a distinguished, though unfortunate exile, and
we shall soon make a good democrat of him.’

During his residence in England, Mr. Clay passed his time very
agreeably, and laid the foundation for many grateful reminiscences.
By the late sir James Mackintosh he was delightfully entertained. He
embraced the opportunity of renewing his intimacy with lord Gambier,
whose amiable qualities and piety had secured Mr. Clay’s strong
attachment. With him he spent a week, visiting with him during that
time several places of interest, one of which was the residence of a
descendant of William Penn.

In September, 1815, he embarked for New York, where, on his arrival, he
and Mr. Gallatin were complimented with a public dinner.

In every transaction of a public character in which Mr. Clay had any
agency, he almost invariably rendered himself conspicuous; but in no
one did he gather greener laurels, or make a longer stride towards
immortal fame, than in that of the negotiation at Ghent. Rumor had
preceded him, trumpeting his honors――the faithful and scrupulously
jealous manner in which he had almost sleeplessly watched over the
interests of his country, and crushed with the strength of a giant the
incipient risings of a disposition to destroy or abridge her natural or
conventional rights; and when he approached her shores, she opened wide
her arms to receive him. In Kentucky, warm, noble-hearted Kentucky,
his reception was like that of a dutiful and affectionate son in the
long and passionate embrace of a beloved mother. She welcomed him
with a tenderness that would hardly allow the winds of heaven to visit
him with gentle rudeness. Enthusiastic rejoicings were enkindled, and
spontaneous outpourings of grateful feeling were lavished upon him like
rain. He had even been re-elected to congress while he was still in
Europe, and unanimously. A doubt having arisen touching the legality
of this election, a new one was commenced, which resulted as at first.

At the commencement of the next session, the house again called him
to preside over its deliberations, where he soon became engaged in
directing successfully the affairs of the nation. As a matter in course,
the _new treaty_ was brought forward at an early stage, out of which
the federalists, and the opposers of the war in general, endeavored
to obtain food for their carping, fault-finding appetites. Passing
indifferently and silently by the great advantages which it secured
to the United States, they sought, with an eagerness worthy of a
better cause, to find some defective or weak point. If in this they
were successful, although it might be so diminutive as to escape the
detection of any except their microscopic vision when thus employed,
it was ridiculously amusing to listen to their barkings, and howlings,
and wranglings over it, often for hours; and the multitude and variety
of hard names and scurrilous epithets which they would bandy about on
such occasions, rendered it necessary for one to go beyond the English
vocabulary if he desired to satisfy his curiosity respecting their
location. But Mr. Clay soon brought to bear upon them the tremendous
battery of his eloquence, which sent the whole yelping pack to their
kennels, both in and out of congress. This he did on the twenty-ninth
of January, 1816.

Said he, on that occasion, ‘I gave a vote for the declaration of
war. I exerted all the little influence and talents I could command to
make the war. The war was made. It is terminated; and I declare with
perfect sincerity, if it had been permitted to me to lift the veil of
futurity, and to have foreseen the precise series of events which has
occurred, my vote would have been unchanged. We had been insulted, and
outraged, and spoliated upon by nearly all Europe; by Great Britain, by
France, Spain, Denmark, Naples, and, to cap the climax, by the little
contemptible power of Algiers. We had submitted too long and too much.
We had become the scorn of foreign powers, and the derision of our own

These opposers laid no small emphasis upon the fact that no stipulation
was contained in the treaty respecting the impressment of our seamen.
He met this in a strain of lofty argument, whose pungency sank into
their hearts like a spear. Said he, ‘one of the great causes of the
war and of its continuance was the practice of impressment exercised
by Great Britain; and if this claim had been admitted by necessary
implication or express stipulation, the rights of our seamen would have
been abandoned! It is with utter astonishment that I hear it has been
contended in this country, that because our right of exemption from the
practice had not been expressly secured in the treaty, it was therefore
given up! It is impossible that such an argument can be advanced on
this floor. No member who regarded his reputation would venture to
advance such a doctrine.’

He concluded by stating the position in which the country ought to
be speedily placed; advised the preservation of her present naval
and military force; to make provision for the increase of the navy;
to fortify her most defenceless points; to multiply military roads
and canals; and to commence in earnest the great work of internal
improvement. ‘I would see a chain of turnpike roads and canals from
Passamaquoddy to New Orleans, and other similar roads intersecting the
mountains, to facilitate intercourse between all parts of the country,
and to bind and to connect us together. _I would also effectually
protect our manufactories._ I would afford them protection not so
much for the sake of the manufacturers themselves as for the general

Mr. Clay resumed his duties in the house by evincing the same
far reaching anxiety for the welfare of his whole country, that he
manifested when he resigned his station for a foreign mission. To
his influence, in a great measure, the origin of the war was owing,
its bold prosecution, and satisfactory termination. But besides the
advantages which we reaped as the fruits of it, we realized many
detrimental consequences incidental to it. An immense debt had been
contracted; our commercial, manufacturing, and agricultural interests
had been partially suspended, if not totally neglected; we found
ourselves greatly in want of articles, the product of mechanical
ingenuity, to supply which it was necessary to resort to foreign
work-shops; this of course caused large exportations of specie, which
seldom returned; the bank issues amounted to upwards of one hundred
millions of dollars, while at the same time there was only about
fifteen millions of specie in the country. These institutions had of
course been obliged to suspend specie payment; distress and pressure
every where abounded, and the well disposed and patriotic began
seriously to look about them for measures of relief, and restoration
to the country. The most judicious and reflecting in the nation,
believed that the greatest source of distress was to be found in the
deranged state of the currency. Indeed it was completely vitiated. The
government paper, bearing interest at six per cent., the redemption
of which it had guarantied by pledging the faith of the nation, was
depreciated some twenty per cent., and doubt and distrust in money
matters were prominent features of the condition of the country.
Something must be done, it was obvious, to remove that doubt, and
restore confidence, or general stagnation would invade every industrial
department throughout the nation. At this period, the individual states
presented the singular appearance of being engaged in doing what the
constitution evidently intended should be performed by the general
government, namely, in reality regulating the currency, through the
banking institutions operating under their sanction. This they were
executing in a most unfinancial-like manner, in many instances making
their paper a legal tender, thus compelling the creditor to accept it
or yield his claim.

In this state of things, it was imperiously demanded of congress to
interpose the power vested in it by the constitution, and recover that
control over the currency which it had suffered to be usurped by the
states. The articles in that instrument granting congress the exclusive
power of coining money, and prohibiting the states from doing it, and
also from issuing bills of credit, rendered it apparent that the power
of regulating the general currency was lodged with that body. This
was the belief of the most able financiers of _that_ time, and adopted
by those of the present. Acting under the influence of this belief,
Mr. Madison had at the opening of the session of 1815–16, recommended
‘the establishment of a national bank,’ which ‘he regarded as the
best and perhaps the only adequate resource to relieve the country
and the government from the present embarrassment. Authorized to issue
notes which will be received in all payments to the United States, the
circulation of its issues will be coëxtensive with the union, and there
will exist a constant demand, leaving a just proportion to the annual
amount of the duties and taxes to be collected, independent of the
general circulation for commercial and social purposes. A national
bank will therefore possess the means and the opportunity of supplying
a circulating medium of equal use and value in every state and in every
district of every state. Established by the authority of the United
States, accredited by the government to the whole amount of its notes
in circulation, and intrusted as the depository of the government
with all the accumulations of the public treasure, the national bank,
independent of its immediate capital, will enjoy every recommendation
which can merit and secure the confidence of the public. Organized
upon principles of responsibility, but of independence, the national
bank will be retained within its legitimate sphere of action without
just apprehensions from the misconduct of its directors, or from the
encroachments of the government. Eminent in its resources, and in its
example, the national bank will conciliate and lead the state banks in
all that is necessary for the restoration of credit, public and private.
And acting upon a compound capital, partly of stock, and partly of gold
and silver, the national bank will be the ready instrument to enhance
the value of the public securities, and to restore the currency of the
national coin.’

Such were Mr. Madison’s views in relation to a national bank, which
were immediately referred to the committee on the national currency;
and on the eighth of January, 1816, the chairman of that committee,
Mr. John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina, presented an able and elaborate
report in relation thereto, advocating the immediate chartering of such
a bank as the president had recommended, and detailed its prominent
features. When the bill was brought forward for the action of the house,
Mr. Clay unequivocally declared himself in favor of its provisions in a
speech of great ability and argumentative force, although well knowing
that he would thereby subject himself to the charge of inconsistency.
He was charged with it by his political enemies, who magnified his
departure from the position taken by him in 1811 in relation to the
same bank, into a monstrous blemish in his political character; which,
if correctly considered, is seen to constitute an ornament, instead.
A careful contrast of the grounds _on_ which, and the circumstances
_under_ which he then opposed that institution, with those on and under
which he now advocated it, will, to any unprejudiced mind, forever
exempt him from that charge. Such a contrast will clearly show, that
the total change of circumstances which had taken place during the
five years that had elapsed since he first examined the merits of that
bank, and that wrought in the policy of the general government in that
time, to say nothing of the experience received in prosecuting the war,
of the utility of and necessity for such an establishment, not only
disarmed and rendered invalid now, objections which then were both
valid and weighty when directed against it, but absolutely converted
them into arguments in its favor. At the time when it was proposed
to renew the charter of the old United States bank, Mr. Clay did not
think it so essential in accomplishing any of the objects definitely
specified in the constitution, as to justify its establishment, on
grounds purely constructive. It was supported, too, principally by
the federal party, and on the ground that its agency was requisite in
executing the financial concerns of government; which ground then was
falsely assumed, inasmuch as the local banks of the several states
had, in certain cases, been employed to perform that office, which they
were successfully executing. They, therefore, being known to compass
the specific object for which it was stated the charter of the bank
was to be renewed, it was justly regarded by Mr. Clay as a matter of
supererogation to renew it, and accordingly he opposed its renewal.
In 1816, Mr. Clay supported the bank mainly on the ground of its
_necessity_, to enable congress to exercise that ample and salutary
supervision over the commercial and monetary interests of the country,
which the constitution expressly gave it; and that, therefore, out of
this very necessity, was fairly deducible its constitutionality, since
it was absurd to suppose that the constitution would grant to congress
a specified right, and at the same time withhold the only means by
which it could exercise that right. A stormy and protracted discussion
arose respecting the bank charter, during which Mr. Clay came again
into collision with Mr. Randolph, causing unusual sensation in the
house, and giving rise to apprehensions that something serious might
grow out of it. Mr. Randolph animadverted somewhat harshly upon
Mr. Clay’s custom of maintaining a uniform silence in his private
intercourse respecting his change of opinion in regard to the
expediency and constitutionality of a United States bank, using
language that might admit of very offensive construction. When he
ceased, Mr. Clay, with his usual self-possession and deliberation,
rose, and in a few words declared that the offensive language needed
explanation; that he should refrain from saying what he conceived
himself bound to say, until Mr. Randolph should make it. Mr.
Randolph rose, and made the explanation, which Mr. Clay pronounced
unsatisfactory; and Mr. Randolph again explained, disavowing all
intention to offer offence. During the altercation, an almost
breathless stillness had been preserved in the house; a pin might be
heard to fall in any part of it.

The bank bill passed the house by a vote of eighty to seventy-one,
and the senate by a vote of twenty-two to twelve. On the tenth of April
it became a law, went into operation in the early part of 1817, and
more than justified the expectations of its friends, in regard to its
influence for good upon the varied interests of the country.

During this session, Mr. Clay gave his support to a bill proposing a
reduction of the direct tax laid upon the United States. He expressed
himself in favor of a moderate land tax, and regarded the existing one
as too high for a state of peace. He maintained that ‘in time of peace
we should look to foreign importations as the chief source of revenue,
and in war when they are cut off, that it was time enough to draw
deeply on our internal resources.’ His plan was to make up for a still
further decrease of the land tax, by an increase of the duties on

It was deemed desirable to increase the pay of members of congress,
which led to the framing and passage of the celebrated compensation
bill. It was generally agreed among the members that their compensation
(six dollars per day,) was not sufficient for their maintenance at
Washington, and allow them to enjoy the society of their families. The
principal question that arose respected the mode by which it should
be increased. Some were in favor of a stipulated salary, and others
of an increase of the _per diem_ pay. On the sixth of March, colonel
Richard M. Johnson, one of the committee to whom the business had been
referred, reported a bill regulating the pay of members, by a salary of
fifteen hundred dollars per session, for each member in congress, which
passed both houses. Mr. Clay voted for this bill, but at the same time
declaring his preference for the _per diem_ rate. The passage of this
bill proved particularly obnoxious to the demagogues, throughout the
country, who exerted themselves incessantly to excite the passions of
the people, evidently for the purpose of accumulating political capital.
In no section of the union did the excitement rage to such an extent
as in Kentucky. It seemed as though scarcely an individual in the
whole state was friendly to it. The ambitious and designing demagogues
and ultra federalists united in Kentucky their furious forces, with
exultations of delight at what appeared to them the certain prospect
of accomplishing the total overthrow of Mr. Clay. They had succeeded to
such a degree in kindling a flame of indignation against the measure,
that there were at least some grounds of danger. They had long been
impotently watching for this opportunity, and now from their various
places of concealment they rushed forth, bent upon accomplishing their
purpose. After some consultation as to the mode they should adopt, it
was finally determined that Mr. John Pope, an eloquent and influential
gentleman, should take the field in opposition to Mr. Clay. Accordingly,
he immediately commenced political operations in the approved style
of the country, by riding about among the inhabitants, addressing them
often, setting forth his own merits and claims, and decrying those
of his rival. It was not until after being repeatedly importuned by
his friends, that Mr. Clay would consent to take the field in person
against Mr. Pope. He finally went forth for the first time in his life,
to vindicate in person to his constituents, his public political acts.

It has been said that Mr. Clay was the first Kentuckian who preserved
dignity and independence of character on an electioneering tour. It was
customary at that day in Kentucky, for any one who solicited an office
in the gift of the people, to clothe himself in tattered garments, and
in the attitude and with the tone of a menial, to go around among them
and thus ask it at their hands. Mr. Clay’s exalted sense of dignity
and honor would not permit him to conform to this degrading custom, and
he visited his constituents attired just as he would go to his seat in
congress. He appealed to the people, expressing his entire willingness
to be governed by their will, as he was in duty bound, and that he
would vote for the repeal of the offensive law, if they instructed him
to do so. He corrected their erroneous impressions, and occasionally
made those happy and effective appeals to their hearts, which he
knew so well how to direct, and he soon found himself almost entirely
reinstated in their affections. Mr. Pope, perceiving that he was fast
losing ground, made a desperate effort at regaining it, by challenging
his rival to meet him on a designated day and discuss their respective
claims to the suffrage of the people. It was unhesitatingly accepted.
They met according to appointment, and in the presence of an immense
assemblage, fought their battle of argument, which resulted in the
signal defeat of Mr. Pope. Mr. Clay was re-elected by a large majority.
The compensation bill was among the first subjects considered by
congress after it convened again, which was repealed. The _per diem_
allowance was finally increased to eight dollars per day.

During the canvass, Mr. Clay met an old hunter who had previously
been his devoted friend, but now opposed him on the ground of the
compensation bill. ‘Have you a good rifle, my friend?’ asked Mr. Clay.
‘Yes.’ ‘Does it ever flash?’ ‘Once only.’ ‘What did you do with it,
throw it away?’ ‘No, I picked the flint, tried it again, and brought
down the game.’ ‘Have I ever flashed but on the compensation bill?’
‘No.’ ‘Will you throw me away?’ ‘No! no!’ quickly replied the hunter,
nearly overwhelmed by his enthusiastic feelings, ‘_I will pick the
flint and try you again!_’ Ever afterwards he was the unwavering friend
of Mr. Clay.

An Irish barber residing at Lexington, had always given Mr. Clay
his vote, and on all occasions when he was a candidate for office,
electioneered warmly for him. His ardent temperament and unrestrained
passions frequently involved him in scrapes and difficulties, out of
which Mr. Clay had generally succeeded in extricating him. While the
canvass was progressing, after the compensation bill, the barber did
not evince his usual zeal and animation, on the contrary seemed to be
indifferent as to the result of the election. To all inquiries for whom
he designed to vote he answered evasively. He was accosted a few days
previous to the election, by a gentleman for whom he entertained the
most profound regard, with the question, ‘for whom, _Jerry_, do you
mean to vote?’ Regarding his interrogator with an earnest, shrewd
look, he replied, ‘Faix, an’ sure, docthur, I mane to vote for the man
who can’t put more nor one hand into the _threasury_.’ Mr. Pope, the
opponent of Mr. Clay, had the misfortune to lose an arm in early life,
and this circumstance, while it gave pertinence to the Irishman’s reply,
indicated for whom he intended to vote. A few days ♦subsequent to the
election, the barber met Mr. Clay in Lexington, and approaching him,
burst into tears, saying that he had wronged him, and manifested bitter
regret for his ingratitude. ‘My poor dear wife,’ said he, ‘got round
me, blubbering, and was after vexing herself and me too. She tould me
that I was _too bad, too bad_, to desart like a base spalpleen, me ould
frind. “Niver’s the time, Jerry, dear, when you got in jail or any bad
fixin’, _niver’s the time_ he didn’t come to you an’ hilp you out. Och!
bad luck to you, for not giving him your vote.”’ The barber was ever
after true to Mr. Clay.

In all matters of public importance brought before the house,
whenever it was compatible with his station, Mr. Clay interested
himself, concerning which his manifestation of regard for the welfare
of his country was characterized by unusual uniformity. There was
nothing fitful or erratic about his zeal; it burned with a steady,
certain light, revealing the secrets of his very soul, in relation
to his public intentions and desires. Defeat could not diminish,
nor opposition extinguish it; always irrepressible, conflicting
circumstances only rendered it more intense. No measures passed through
his hands without bearing its impress, and so deep as to appear a part
of the same. But there were periods of extraordinary interest, when
it blazed with more than meteoric brilliancy――when it constituted the
aurora borealis of the political horizon, seen and admired by the whole
universe. One of these periods we now approach――a period which reflects
the highest honor on his character, for philanthropy and benevolence,
and which caused his memory to be enshrined in the hearts of millions
remote from the field of his fame――the period of the struggles of the
Spanish colonies in South America, to become independent of the mother
country. These he contemplated with as much anxiety and solicitude for
their result, as though he had been an actual participator in them.

Happily for America, the allotment of Providence introduced Mr. Clay
to the stage of public action at one of the most critical times in her
history, when just such influence as he could exert was imperiously
demanded. The din of the revolution had hardly died away, and the
blood with which it was achieved scarcely dried up, when he first
came forward in the defence of his country’s rights. The spirit of
‘seventy-six’ had indeed felled the tall trees of tyranny, and plucked
up the rank weeds of oppression, and planted the germ of liberty. But
the little band of men inhaling that spirit, who had arrayed around
the place of the precious deposit a rampart of iron hearts, after
irrigating and enriching it with their blood, had either sunk down to
an enviable rest in the sacred soil, or with diminished energy, and
flagging zeal still maintained their posts. Their pristine strength,
however, the storm of war had swept away, and though they still
stretched out their scar-covered arms to shield it from invasion,
their feeble efforts were hardly sufficient to the task. Dangers were
numerous, boding disaster in case the vigilance of that veteran band
should slumber. The enemies of freedom, though beaten back, had retired
with their weapons in their hands, and from their secret lurking places
looked forth, ready to avail themselves of the first favorable moment
to sally forth and nip it in the bud. Such were the circumstances,
when Mr. Clay joined that weak and diminished company of watchers. He
found the tree of liberty a strong and vigorous plant, unfolding its
beautiful leaves, but needing great care and culture. There was much
foreign rubbish to be removed which retarded its growth. A glance at
its situation determined his course. Nothing within the compass of
his ability necessary to hasten on its progress towards maturity,
was wanting. Morning, noon and night found him pouring the dew of his
diligence upon it in copious effusions. Under its genial influences the
trunk shot upward stately and strong, and the wide-spreading branches
soon bent beneath large clusters of delicious fruit. The taste of that
fruit caused the heart of the nation to bound with gladness, and her
good and great men to desire that the inhabitants of the _whole world_
might partake of it. Not a few of them gave utterance to that desire
in words that burned with benevolence, but none spoke louder or with
more effect than Mr. Clay. His voice infused courage into the hearts of
those who were toiling to plant a similar tree on the fertile pampas of
South America. Its thunder-tones reverberated among the lofty heights
of the Andes, and rang through the halls of the incas. The hunter heard
them, and departed for the battle-field to seek a nobler quarry. The
gauchios left his lasso on the plain and buckled on his armor. From
rank to rank of their embattled hosts they pealed, and nerved their
arms to deal the liberating blows.

The first public expression of Mr. Clay’s feelings in relation to
South American independence, was made in connection with a proposition
to reduce the direct taxes of the United States, which he thought too
high for a state of peace. The aspect of our foreign relations at that
time was peculiarly amicable, although, from a report that the Spanish
minister had made an informal demand for a portion of Florida, seemed
to indicate that a rupture with Spain was by no means improbable,
and he expressed himself in favor of husbanding our means as much as
practicable, in anticipation of such an event. At the same time, he
hinted the propriety of assisting her colonial dependents in their
endeavors to establish a free government. His remarks caused Mr.
Randolph to express his sentiments concerning the same subject, which
among other things charged Mr. Clay with entertaining a desire for
conquest, indeed as being influenced by unworthy motives. He said he
was not ‘going a tilting for the liberties of South America.’ She came
not to our aid; let us mind our own business, and not tax our people
for the liberties of the people of Spanish America. He declared that
her inhabitants were incapable of appreciating or enjoying liberty. He
thought Mr. Clay had imbibed the war-spirit of Europe. ‘The honorable
gentleman has been sent on a late occasion to Europe; he had been near
the field of Waterloo, and he was apprehensive had snuffed the carnage
and caught the infection.’ He intimated that Mr. Clay advocated an
increase of the army for the purpose of marching them to the scene
of action. ‘What! increase our standing army in time of peace on the
suggestion that we are to go on a crusade to South America?’ Mr. Clay
denied having made the most remote suggestions to that effect,――that
his remarks were incapable of being so construed. ‘Do I not understand
the gentleman?’――‘I am sorry I do not. I labor under two great
misfortunes――I can never understand the honorable speaker, and he can
never understand me.’ Such being the case, Mr. Randolph remarked, he
should be under the necessity of abandoning the argument with him,
since it would be impossible to proceed.

Mr. Clay again alluded to the same subject a few days after, in a most
feeling manner. A bill was brought forward to prohibit ‘our citizens
from selling vessels of war to subjects of a foreign power,’ which he
vigorously opposed because of its evident bearing upon the belligerent
state of South America. He said it was impossible to conceal the true
character of that bill. ‘Bestow upon it what denomination you will,
disguise it as you may, it will be understood by the world as a law
to discountenance any aid being given to the South American patriots,
now in a state of revolution against the parent country. With respect
to the nature of that struggle, I have not now for the first time
to express my opinion and wishes. I wish them independence. It is
the first step towards improving their condition. Let them have a
free government, if they are capable of enjoying it. At any rate let
them have independence. _Yes, from the inmost recesses of my soul I
wish them independence._ In this I may be accused of imprudence in
the utterance of my feelings on this occasion. I care not, when the
independence, the happiness, the liberty of a whole people is at stake,
and that people our neighbors, our brethren occupying a portion of the
same continent, imitating our example, and participating of the same
sympathies with ourselves.’

During the following month an attempt was made to appropriate and
pledge the bonus paid by the United States bank into the public
treasury, as a permanent fund to be employed in constructing works
of internal improvement. Mr. Clay gave his hearty concurrence to this
measure, declaring his belief that ‘there were no two subjects which
could engage the attention of the national legislature, more worthy of
its deliberate consideration, than those of internal improvements and
domestic manufactures.’ A bill was passed constituting such fund, but
the president vetoed it on alleged constitutional grounds.

Mr. Clay’s remarks caused great interest to be felt in behalf of
South American liberty, and during the summer following, the president
appointed three commissioners, Messrs. Rodney, Graham, and Bland, to
proceed to South America, and examine her political, civil and social
condition as preliminary to rendering them any assistance. Mr. Clay
regarded the appointment as impolitic, and when a bill came before the
house in March 1818, providing for the support of government, objected
to having it embrace a clause appropriating thirty thousand dollars
for their compensation, for constitutional reasons. For it he proposed
to substitute an amendment, appropriating eighteen thousand dollars as
the outfit and one year’s salary of a minister from the United States
to the Independent Provinces of the river La Plata in South America.
He accompanied the presentation of the amendment with a speech of
great power, evincing great geographical and historical knowledge,
and setting forth clearly the condition of the people. The amendment,
however, was not adopted.

Many members of prominence differed with Mr. Clay, for whose opinions
he expressed his respect, and regretted that his own convictions of
expediency and duty led him to take a different view of the subject.
He directly avowed that considerations of liberty and humanity had
no little weight with him in advocating their cause, but at the same
time his belief, that the adoption of the measure under consideration,
while it would add to the renown of the republic, would render material
assistance to those who were greatly in need of it. He vindicated
himself from the charge which had been made, that he was desirous of
fomenting a war between the states and Spain. He indulged in animating
anticipations of the number and importance of the governments which
might be formed in those vast, fertile, and beautiful provinces. To
attempts at proving the movements of the colonists as rebellious,
opposing the lawful government of Spain, he replied by clearly showing
that if that power had possessed a legal claim to their allegiance, she
had forfeited it by withholding that protection requisite to entitle
her to it, and that consequently the people of Spanish America were
contending for nothing more than their legal and natural rights. ‘But’
said Mr. Clay, ‘I take a broader, bolder position. I maintain that an
oppressed people are authorized, whenever they can, to rise and break
their fetters. This was the great principle of the English revolution.
It was the great principle of our own. We must therefore pass sentence
of condemnation upon the founders of our liberty, say that they were
rebels and traitors, and that we are at this moment legislating without
competent powers, before we can condemn the course of Spanish America.’
He contended that if we were justified in our attempts at independence,
much more was she, who had writhed beneath the scourge of oppression so
long, so much longer than we; that if they were worthy of success, if
they were entitled to succeed from the justness of their cause, then
surely we ought to wish it, especially when we consider the barbarous
character of the war. He maintained that we were deeply interested,
in recognizing their independence. Even then our commerce with those
provinces was considerable, and would greatly increase after they
should become permanently settled as free and independent nations. The
act would attach them to us, nay, it would bind them to us by relations
as intimate as those of kindred; they would become our powerful allies.
Mr. Clay said he took this ground, not because he desired to force
our principles where they were not wished, but simply from feelings
of sympathy. We knew by experience how sweet it was to receive that
when we were in circumstances that tried men’s souls. There could
be no danger, nor objection to stretch out towards their people the
hand of friendly sympathy, to present to those abused and oppressed
communities an expression of our good will, to make them a tender
of those great principles which we have adopted as the basis of our
institutions. Their ignorance and inability had been brought forward,
by those opposing the measure, as completely incapacitating them for
self-government. These, he contended, had been greatly magnified, but
admitting them to be as unqualifying as they had been represented to
be, the fact ought rather to increase our pity for them, and to urge us
to seek the more earnestly, by all reasonable and just means within our
reach, their liberation from that detestable system which chained them
to such a servile state. He ridiculed the idea that recognition could
be made a just pretext for war. ‘Recognition’ said he, ‘without aid is
no just cause of war; with aid, it is not because of the recognition,
but because of the aid, as aid without recognition is cause of war.’
Mr. Clay’s efforts were not successful at this time; no minister was
despatched to South America; the friendly mission was deferred until
1821, when he submitted, on the tenth of February, a resolution to
the house, ‘declaring that the house of representatives participated
with the people of the United States in the deep interest which they
felt for the success of the Spanish provinces of South America, which
were struggling to establish their liberty and independence, and
that it would give its constitutional support to the president of the
United States, whenever he might deem it expedient to recognize the
sovereignty and independence of those provinces.’

On this resolution, a warm and protracted debate ensued, which was
finally adopted, by a vote of eighty-seven to sixty-eight, and Mr. Clay
was appointed chairman of a committee to communicate to the president
the action of the house.

On the eighth day of March, 1822, the president transmitted to the
house of representatives a message recommending the recognition, which
Mr. Clay had so long struggled for. On the twenty-eighth the vote
of recognition was taken, when it appeared that there was but one
dissenting voice.

Thus at last were the noble and generous efforts of the patriot
statesman crowned with success as complete as they had been persevering.
Years had elapsed between their commencement and glorious consummation;
years of toil, anxiety, and hope, but now the harvest time had come.
The president and congress, from vehemently opposing his views in
relation to their independence, by his persuasive arguments were
brought over to them, who officially stretched out the hand of the
nation, to clasp with friendly pressure those of the infant republics
of the south. As a matter of course, the act was denounced as one of
folly and fraught with danger, by the personal and political enemies
of Mr. Clay, but the truly philanthropic, throughout the land, regarded
it with approbation, and described it as just what the greatest free
nation on the globe should do towards those who were worthy of it. It
was applauded throughout the world, but particularly by those towards
whom it was directed, with enthusiastic expressions of gratitude. The
supreme congress of Mexico voted him the thanks of the nation, for his
zeal and efficient labors in their behalf.

During the struggle, his speeches were frequently read at the head
of the patriot army, and the effect was always to increase their
intrepidity and valor. The name of Clay became associated with every
thing dear and valuable in freedom, and was pronounced by both officer
and soldier with reverence; and many were the epistolary notices which
he received, of the high estimation in which his services were held, by
that suffering, but successfully struggling people. The following is a

                                    BOGOTA, _21st November, 1827_.

  SIR,――I cannot omit availing myself of the opportunity afforded
  me by the departure of colonel Watts, _chargé d’affaires_ of the
  United States, of taking the liberty to address your excellency.
  This desire has long been entertained by me, for the purpose of
  expressing my admiration of your excellency’s brilliant talents
  and ardent love of liberty. All America, Colombia, and myself,
  owe your excellency our purest gratitude, for the incomparable
  services you have rendered to us, by sustaining our course with
  a sublime enthusiasm. Accept, therefore, this sincere and
  cordial testimony, which I hasten to offer to your excellency
  and to the government of the United States, who have so greatly
  contributed to the emancipation of your southern brethren.

  ‘I have the honor to offer to your excellency my distinguished

              ‘Your excellency’s obedient servant,


To the above, Mr. Clay replied, of which the following is an extract.

                                  WASHINGTON, _27th October, 1828_.

  ‘SIR,――It is very gratifying to me to be assured directly
  by your excellency, that the course which the government of
  the United States took on this memorable occasion, and my
  humble efforts, have excited the gratitude and commanded the
  approbation of your excellency. I am persuaded that I do not
  misinterpret the feelings of the people of the United States,
  as I certainly express my own, in saying that the interest which
  was inspired in this country by the arduous struggles of South
  America, arose principally from the hope that along with its
  independence would be established free institutions, insuring
  all the blessings of civil liberty. To the accomplishing of
  that object we still anxiously look. We are aware that great
  difficulties oppose it, among which not the least is that which
  arises out of the existence of a large military force, raised
  for the purpose of resisting the power of Spain. Standing armies,
  organized with the most patriotic intentions, are dangerous
  instruments. They devour the substance, debauch the morals, and
  too often destroy the liberties of a people. Nothing can be more
  perilous or unwise, than to retain them after the necessity has
  ceased which led to their formation, especially if their numbers
  are disproportioned to the revenues of the state.

  ‘But notwithstanding all these difficulties, we had fondly
  cherished and still indulge the hope that South America would
  add a new triumph to the cause of human liberty, and that
  Providence would bless her as he had her northern sister,
  with the genius of some great and virtuous man, to conduct her
  securely through all her trials. We had even flattered ourselves
  that we beheld that genius in your excellency. But I should be
  unworthy the consideration with which your excellency honors me,
  and deviate from the frankness which I have ever endeavored to
  practice, if I did not on this occasion state that ambitious
  designs have been attributed by your enemies, to your excellency,
  which have created in my mind great solicitude. They have cited
  late events in Colombia as proofs of these designs. But slow
  in the withdrawal of confidence which I have once given, I have
  been most unwilling to credit the unfavorable accounts which
  have from time to time reached me.

  ‘I cannot allow myself to believe that your excellency will
  abandon the bright and glorious path which lies plainly before
  you, for the bloody road passing over the liberties of the human
  race, on which the vulgar crowd of tyrants and military despots
  have so often trodden. I will not doubt that your excellency
  will in due time render a satisfactory explanation to Colombia,
  and to the world, of the parts of your public conduct which have
  excited any distrust, and that preferring the true glory of our
  immortal Washington to the ignoble fame of the destroyers of
  liberty, you have formed the patriotic resolution of ultimately
  placing the freedom of Colombia upon a firm and sure foundation.
  That your efforts to that end may be crowned with complete
  success, I most fervently pray.

  ‘I request that your excellency will accept assurances of my
  sincere wishes for your happiness and prosperity.

                                                        ‘H. CLAY.’

His magnanimity, his disinterestedness, and his philanthropy, stand
out in bold relief, in the above extract from his appeal to Bolivar.
It evinces the same spirit of kind regard for the welfare of the South
American republics which he invariably manifested towards that of his
own. Its tone, the nature of its sentiments, and its more than open
frankness, utterly preclude the belief that selfishness had any agency
in its dictation. It exhibits him, cherishing as strong a desire that
the happy institutions, immunities, and privileges of liberty should
be established and enjoyed in them, as he felt in supporting and
perpetuating those of his own. No one can rise up from its perusal and
candidly question the purity of his motives, nor charge him with an
overweening ambition. In short, no one unblinded by prejudice can fail
of beholding in it, his generous, uncalculating attitude.

During Mr. Madison’s administration, Mr. Clay was twice offered a
seat in his cabinet by him, or the mission to Russia. The president
reposed in him most unbounded confidence, and correctly appreciated his
preëminent abilities. At the breaking out of hostilities, Mr. Madison
selected him as commander-in-chief of the army. But Mr. Clay, thinking
that he could render his country more efficient service in her public
councils, declined all attempts at removing him from them, though he
well knew that he did so at the expense of his private interests. These,
however, never appear to have entered into or influenced in the least
his calculations. ‘My country first, myself afterwards,’ is legibly
written on every part of his public career.

After the accomplishment of his desires in relation to South America,
he again reverted to his favorite policy; favorite, because he saw its
intimate connection with the growth and prosperity of his country, as
calculated to develope her vast resources, and to pour into her lap the
blessings of a virtuous and free people. The formation of Mr. Clay’s
attachment to internal improvements and domestic manufactures, is
coeval with his entrance into congress; and when matters demanding
immediate attention had been disposed of, he would bring them forward,
and labor to make the conviction of their importance sink deep into the
heart of the nation. When Mr. Madison returned, with his objections,
the bill appropriating the bonus of the United States bank for purposes
of internal improvements, Mr. Clay expressed his astonishment. He had
confidently calculated on its receiving the signature of the president;
for he had particularly invited the attention of congress, in his
message, ‘to the expediency of exercising their existing powers, and
where necessary, of resorting to the prescribed mode of enlarging them,
in order to effectuate a comprehensive system of roads and canals,
such as will have the effect of drawing more closely together every
part of our country, by promoting intercourse and improvements, and
by increasing the share of every part in the common stock of national
prosperity.’ Mr. Clay had heard, through the medium of uncertain rumor,
that Mr. Madison designed to veto the bill, whereupon he sent him a
communication, requesting him, if he entertained any constitutional
scruples about signing it to let the whole matter rest and pass over
to his successor for action. The president, however, took a different
view of the subject, and on the third of March, returned the bill. On
the following day, Mr. Monroe was inducted into his office, who, it was
conjectured, prior to seeing Mr. Madison’s veto-message, had prepared
his inaugural address in such a manner as to recommend, in strong terms,
the policy of promoting internal improvements, but that, on reading
Mr. Madison’s objections to the bill, he changed his opinion. It was
thought he was led to do so partly from fear, and partly from a desire
to conform his views with those of his predecessor. Subsequently
he stated that a careful investigation had conducted him to the
conclusion, that the power of making internal improvements was not
vested in congress, and that to clothe that body with it, an amendment
of the constitution was requisite. Opposition such as this policy
had encountered, from so exalted a source as that of three chief
magistrates, (Messrs. Jefferson, Madison and Monroe,) would have
appalled a mind of ordinary strength and perseverance; but Mr. Clay was
one who never formed an opinion with precipitancy, but only when, by
the most diligent inquiry, he had established a foundation for it in
reason and philosophy. Erected upon this basis, he would adhere to it,
though confronted by the combined opposition of the world. A compromise
of principle he was a stranger to. Nothing disheartened, therefore, by
the magnitude of the obstacles opposed to his progress in advocating
his favorite measures, by those high in authority, he seemed to gather
fresh energy from every new one that he encountered. In March, 1818,
a resolution was submitted to the house, declaring that congress
had power to construct military post-roads and canals, and also to
appropriate money for that object. The opposition to this presented a
formidable array of strength, and brought forward every objection that
political ingenuity could devise. Mr. Clay did not deem it advisable
to consume the time of the house in examining in detail any except
those denominated _constitutional_. His whole aim, therefore, was to
prove that the power alleged in the resolution, was derivable from
the constitution; and this he accomplished in the most convincing
manner. In construing this instrument, he observed the same rules which
governed his action in relation to the bank bill of 1816. He maintained
that every power, which _appeared necessary and proper_, to secure
the lawful exercise of constitutional rights, _was fairly impliable_,
and that this _necessity and propriety_ must be determined by the
discretion of those who exercised it, ‘under all the responsibility of
a solemn oath,’ and the knowledge that they were the subjects of those
laws that they passed, and that they were amenable to the _people_,
who held in reserve the right to resist tyrannic usurpation. Mr. Clay
argued that the power to _establish_ post-roads, expressly specified in
the constitution, involved the power to _construct_ them. This position
he illustrated with the clearness of demonstration, by referring to
that clause which gives congress the power of making war, and employing
the resources of the country in prosecuting it. He declared that, from
the same provision, the power of transporting those means was derived
by implication; and that therefore, to secure such transportation,
congress might legally construct military roads, &c. His adversaries,
compelled to yield before his powerful reasoning, fell back, and
intrenched themselves behind the _concession_ that peculiar emergencies
might justify the exercise of the power in question. From this he drove
them, by proving that this _concession contained the admission_ that
the constitution conveyed ‘the power; and,’ said Mr. Clay, ‘we may
safely appeal to the judgment of the candid and enlightened to decide
between the wisdom of these two constructions, of which one requires
you to wait for the exercise of your power until the arrival of an
emergency, which may not allow you to exert it, and the other, without
denying the power if you can exercise it during the emergency, claims
the right of providing beforehand against the emergency.’ They finally
fortified themselves behind the position, that it was not requisite
for the general government to construct such works, because individual
enterprise would do it as soon as sectional interests should demand
their construction. Here he hemmed in and captured them. His motion
was adopted by a vote of ninety to seventy-five. It was a triumph,
and a signal one, over opposition that had been accumulating and
strengthening during two previous administrations; and which in the
then existing one, was directed against him with all the violence and
impetuosity that reserved energies could impart to it. It must have
been a moment of proud satisfaction to the indefatigable statesman, as
he beheld the last vestige of opposition disappear beneath his feet,
and himself the sole occupant of the place on which he had so happily
succeeded in founding a basis for that noble, incomparably noble system,
fraught with every good and every immunity which a virtuous people
could desire. This system has since been erected so much under his
supervision, and through his direct instrumentality, as to give him
the title of ‘its father.’

Mr. Clay advocated the policy of carrying forward the construction of
the Cumberland road, as rapidly as possible, and exerted himself from
time to time, to procure appropriations for that purpose; with what
earnestness, we may learn from his own language, declaring that ‘he had
to _beg, entreat, and supplicate_ congress, session after session, to
grant the necessary appropriations to complete the road.’ Said he, ‘I
have myself _toiled until my powers have been exhausted and prostrated_
to prevail on you to make the grant.’ A monument of stone has been
erected on the road, surmounted by the genius of liberty, and bearing
as an inscription, the name of ‘Henry Clay.’ The importance of this
road to the public may be learned from some remarks made by Mr. Clay,
on the occasion of a dinner given him by the mechanics of Wheeling,
Virginia, in which he declared the great interest that work had
awakened in his breast, and expressed his ardent desire that it might
be prosecuted to a speedy completion. He said that a few years since,
he and his family had employed the whole or greater part of a day,
in travelling the distance of about nine miles, from Uniontown to
Freeman’s on Laurel Hill, which now, since the construction of the
Cumberland road over the mountains, could be accomplished, together
with seventy more, in the same time. He considered its importance so
great to the union, that he would not consent to give it up to the
keeping of the several states through which it passed.

Mr. Clay’s latest congressional efforts in behalf of internal
improvements, were made on the sixteenth of January, 1824, when he
made a speech before the house, on a bill authorizing the president
to cause certain surveys and estimates of roads and canals to be made.
Mr. Monroe and a strong party of supporters assumed the ground, that
congress had no control over the post roads, other than to use such
as had been established by the states individually, and that their
construction and repair (and consequent alteration and closure) did not
belong to the general government. To this doctrine Mr. Clay replied,
by saying, ‘is it possible that this construction of the constitution
can be correct――a construction which allows a law of the United States,
enacted for the good of the whole, to be obstructed or defeated
in its operations by a county court in any one of the twenty-four
sovereignties? Suppose a state, no longer having occasion to use a
post-road for its own separate and peculiar purposes, withdraws all
care and attention from its preservation. Can the state be compelled
to repair it? No! Then may not the general government repair this
road, which is abandoned by the state power? And may it not protect and
defend that which it has thus repaired, and which there is no longer
an interest or inclination in the state to protect and defend? Is it
contended that a road may exist in the statute book, which the state
will not, and the general government cannot repair and improve? What
sort of an account should we render to the people of the United States,
of the execution of the high trust committed to us for their benefit,
if we were to tell them, that we had failed to execute it because a
state would not make a road for us? The same clause of the constitution
which authorizes congress to establish post roads, authorizes it also
to establish post offices. Will it be contended that congress, in the
exercise of the power to establish post offices, can do no more than
adopt or designate some preëxisting office, enacted and kept in repair
by state authority? There is none such. It may then fix, build, create
and repair offices of its own, and its power over the post roads, is
by the constitution equally extensive.’ Mr. Barbour, of Virginia, was
among the most vigorous assailants of the policy advocated by Mr. Clay.
He contended, that if it were carried out, an encroachment on the
rights of the states would be the inevitable consequence; that their
jurisdiction would be abridged. He was answered in such a manner as
to show that there was no ground of alarm to be apprehended from that
source; that all the control which the general government sought to
exercise, related simply to constructing and preserving the road, and
the maintenance of the necessary measures of its defence, and that all
illegal acts committed upon it would be left for adjudication by the
state through which it passed. Mr. Clay contended that the general
government derived the right of constructing canals, from the specified
rights of making war and regulating domestic and foreign commerce. His
reasoning was clear and conclusive, and when the final vote was taken,
the majority was much greater than the most sanguine supporters of the
measure had anticipated, showing a great increase since 1818, when he
discussed the same subject. The opposition were now prostrated, indeed
they had on this occasion brought out their whole strength, and many
were heard to say, that if defeated now, they should regard the policy
of internal improvements permanently settled. Many, therefore, who had
formerly opposed it, on witnessing Mr. Clay’s complete triumph, adopted
his views, and came over to his aid.

It has always been a prominent principle with Mr. Clay, in his
legislative career, to give a judicious direction to his exertions, so
that if they were successful, his country would be benefited, but if
unsuccessful, that she should not sustain any harm. In this one feature
of his action, is seen, as in a mirror, the purity of his patriotism.
His exertions, as directed towards the subject of internal improvements,
have been productive of incalculable benefit to the nation, and to
individuals. They have awakened, and employed, and given an impetus
to an amount of enterprise unmeasured, the salutary effects of which,
every hill and vale of our vast country has felt. And the sea has
felt them too; the sails of commerce have been multiplied by them,
and foreign shores have groaned beneath the burdens of rich freights,
which they have heaped upon them. But who, in imagination, even, can
enumerate the number and the depth of the new channels of enterprise
which they are destined yet to create, where industry may roll her
golden tide, and build by their sides the abodes of a mighty, free,
and happy people. Through the long vista of years to come, it needs
no prophetic ken to look, and read, on many a monument of adamant,
interspersed among them, in characters of imperishable fame, inscribed
the name of HENRY CLAY.

Near the commencement of 1817, efforts were made by the friends of
the free colored population in the United States, to ameliorate their
condition. For this purpose, a meeting was convened at Washington, on
the twenty-first of December, 1816, over which Mr. Clay was called to
preside. On taking the chair, he stated the object of the meeting to
be, to consider the propriety and practicability of colonizing the free
people of color of the United States, and of forming an association
relative to that object. In regard to the various schemes of
colonization which had been suggested, that appeared the most feasible,
which contemplated some portion of the coast of Africa. _There_, he
said, ample provision might be made for the colony itself, and it might
be rendered instrumental in introducing into that extensive portion
of the globe, the arts of civilization and christianity. He said there
was a peculiar and moral fitness in restoring them to the land of their
fathers. He went on to state, that he had understood it constituted no
part of the object of the meeting to touch or agitate in the ♦slightest
degree, a delicate question connected with another portion of the
colored population of our country. It was not proposed to deliberate on
or consider at all, any question of emancipation, or that was connected
with the abolition of slavery. It was upon that condition alone, he was
sure that many gentlemen from the south and west, whom he saw present,
had attended, or could be expected to coöperate. The meeting resulted
in the formation of the Colonization Society, of which Bushrod
Washington was chosen president.

In March previous, Mr. Clay expressed his views relative to holding
congressional caucuses, for the purpose of making nominations. He
thought them not compatible with the nature of the powers delegated
to them by the people, as calculated to meet their disapprobation, and
establish a precedent which might prove dangerous to their liberties.

When congress adjourned, in March, 1817, the house unanimously voted
Mr. Clay their thanks, for the ability and impartiality with which
he had presided over their deliberations, and the correctness of his
decisions on all questions referred to the chair. He replied in an
apposite and beautiful manner, saying that next to the approbation
of one’s own conscience, and one’s own country, was that of the
immediate representatives of the people. He spoke of the difficulties
of legislation; said there were three periods that might be denominated
difficult; the first was that which immediately preceded a state of war;
the second was that which existed during its continuance; and the third
was that which immediately succeeded it. The last was the one through
which they had just passed――the most difficult of the three, when every
thing pertaining to the general and state governments was unsettled,
and when disorganization to a greater or less extent prevailed; when
the task of supplying deficiences, strengthening weaknesses, and
correcting abuses, was by no means light or pleasant. He congratulated
them on the efficient manner in which they had discharged that task,
to which the records of the house bore ample testimony. He closed
by tendering them his thanks, for the flattering expression of good
feeling with which they had honored him, presuming that it was prompted
more by a spirit of kindness, than by a sense of justice to him, as he
was sure he did not merit it, and by pledging their united efforts, as
an offering to their common country, in advancing their best interests.

When he reached Lexington, its citizens gave him a dinner, and as
heretofore, showered on him their enthusiastic approbation and applause.

In January, 1817, the subject of the well known Seminole war was
brought before the house for its consideration. Several features
relating to the mode in which it had been conducted, demanded, in the
opinion of many humane members, a critical investigation. The character
which had been given to that war, by the chieftain to whose management
it was intrusted, was reflecting strongly on the honor and justice
of our country. She had sustained a grievous injury from a portion of
the Seminole Indians, who, during the last war, aided the British arms
against her, and feeling that she had just cause for seeking redress,
despatched general Andrew Jackson, at the head of a strong military
force, to obtain it. He marched into their territory, and in a short
time so reduced them, that a portion sued for peace. A treaty was
accordingly prepared, in August, 1814, but which was not signed by many
of the chiefs, except those previously friendly to our country, who
constituted only about one third of the nation. This misnomered treaty,
from its cruel and unheard-of tyrannical exactions, had found a much
more appropriate resting place by the side of the ruthless interdicts
of a Nero, or a Trajan, than in the archives of a christian nation. The
poor natives, reduced to actual starvation, their wigwams and villages
in ashes, withering in the dust beneath the feet of the conqueror, had
no alternative but to submit to death, or just such terms as he chose
to dictate. They preferred the latter, which was meted out with a hand
nerved with all the unrelenting sternness of patriotism, without any of
its mercy. The Indians obtained what they sought, but they paid dearly
for it. The instrument granted them peace, on condition that they would
cede a large portion of their territory to the United States, and yield
them important powers and privileges over the remainder, and deliver
into the hands of the conqueror the prophets of their nation. It needed
only a superficial knowledge of the Indian character, to perceive that
their proud and haughty spirit would not long brook a compliance with
terms so abjectly humiliating. Not many months elapsed before they
began to renew their depredations on our frontiers. Though acts of
cruelty, on the part of the Seminoles, were of frequent occurrence,
apparently calling loudly for vengeance, still they were greatly
palliated by a letter from ten of the Seminole towns, addressed to the
commanding officer of fort Hawkins, on the eleventh of September, 1817,
in which it was stated that not a solitary white man had been butchered
by them, except in revenge for the unprovoked murder of an Indian. ‘The
white people,’ it declared, ‘killed our people first, the Indians then
took satisfaction. There are yet _three men_ that the red people have
never taken satisfaction for.’ The governor of Georgia, accurately
acquainted with all the facts, declared his honest and sincere
conviction that they were not in fault. But supposing the whites had
_not_ been guilty of outrages on the Seminoles, subsequent to the
date of the treaty, yet its unjustly oppressive character, the paucity
of their chieftains’ signatures attached to it, and the obligations
imposed on the United States, by the ninth article of the treaty of
Ghent, towards the Indian tribes, to say nothing of the law of nature,
justified, in our humble opinion, the attempts of the Seminoles to
shake off the insupportably heavy burden which military despotism
had bound upon them. In view of these facts, in relation to general
Jackson’s treatment of the Seminoles, it is unnecessary to say, that
his second expedition against them was not marked by _one mitigating
or lenient feature_; that they were treated more like _dogs_ than men;
that their chiefs were decoyed by him into his camp, and there seized
and instantly put to death. In short, that every principle of honor,
humanity, and justice, which ought to accompany the operations of
a civilized army, was _utterly disregarded_. It is not surprising,
therefore, that the patriotically disposed, in congress, on beholding
the dark spot gathering on the escutcheon of their country’s fame, in
consequence of such high-handed proceedings, should rise up and attempt
to efface it. General Jackson’s conduct in the Florida war, was made
the subject of special investigation, during the session of 1818–19. A
series of resolutions were offered to congress, severely censuring it,
which Mr. Clay sustained in a speech of unparalleled ability. Although
on terms of personal intimacy with the general, although he accorded
to him his just meed of praise, for the distinguished service he had
rendered his country in the battle of New Orleans, still Mr. Clay
thought he had transcended the limits of both law and equity, and did
not allow his feelings of friendship for him to interpose any obstacle
to the frank and fearless avowal of his sentiments. He commented very
severely upon his treatment of _Indian prisoners, in ordering their
inhuman massacre_, after obtaining possession of them, by the artifice
of a ‘_false flag_,’ not hesitating to pronounce it wanton, barbaric,
and uncalled for. But his flagrant violations of the rights of
neutrality called forth his sharpest animadversions. During the
campaign, two Indian traders, Messrs. Arbuthnot and Ambrister, the
former a Scotchman, the latter an Englishman, had fallen into the hands
of general Jackson. Ambrister was found in the Indian camp, Arbuthnot
within the limits of Spanish jurisdiction. The Englishman was suspected
of having instigated the savages to make war upon the whites, and the
Scotchman was charged with informing the Indians of their rights, as
secured to them by the treaty of Ghent, and of having advised them to
maintain them by force of arms. These unfortunate men, he ordered the
one to be shot and the other hung, in direct opposition to the decision
of a court martial of his own choosing. The turpitude of this act,
Mr. Clay exhibited in its true colors. He contrasted the execution of
Arbuthnot with the blackest act of Napoleon, the execution of Louis
of France, and showed that for atrocity, and disregard for justice and
clemency, it cast the latter far into the back-ground. His aggression
committed upon the Spanish authorities, in seizing upon St. Marks and
Pensacola, fell under the rod of his reprobation. Mr. Clay denounced
these acts as falling little short of tyrannic usurpation, and which
could not be justified on any ground of justice or reason. His speech
on this occasion, has been compared to the polished orations of
Sheridan, in the case of Hastings, but as exhibiting a much milder
spirit, one of sincere sorrow, instead of revenge.

The resolutions were rejected by a small majority, which is not
surprising, on considering that Mr. Monroe, his cabinet, and nearly
all the house, were disinclined to arraign the conduct of general
Jackson in the Seminole war, and when we reflect that Mr. Clay did
not repeat his efforts, as he usually did. The general, who soon after
visited Washington, took umbrage at Mr. Clay’s speech, and carried
his animosity so far as to refuse to have any intercourse with him,
although he called on him directly after his arrival, thus evincing an
unabatement of friendship.

To whatever part of Mr. Clay’s congressional career we turn our eyes,
we invariably find him actively engaged in building up that magnificent
system of domestic utility, whenever circumstances admitted. This he
commenced, as we have seen, previous to the war, and his attachment
to it had been increasing ever since, until the conviction of its
indispensable importance to the country had sunk so deep into his mind,
as to cause him to toil unremittingly, in order that the beneficial
influences of that system might be diffused over it as soon as possible.
For these, the farmer at his plough and the mechanic in his shop were
stretching out their hands. These, our infant manufactories, which
sprang up to supply the demands caused by the war, demanded, and these
were requisite to make the union (what Mr. Clay never lost sight of,)
independent in _reality_, as she was in _name_, of all foreign powers.

It was obvious to both parties in congress, that in order to accomplish
an object so essential to the welfare of the nation, a _protective
tariff_ was necessary. Accordingly, on the twelfth of March, 1816,
Mr. Lowndes, of South Carolina, one of the committee of ways and means,
made a report relative to the policy of protection. He sustained the
policy by an able speech, and was followed by Mr. Calhoun, who also
advocated it. Mr. Clay yielded his unqualified assent and vindication,
and sought to cause the bill to be so formed as to secure efficient
protection for woollen fabrics. It was finally adopted.

In April, 1820, the subject of a protective tariff came again before
congress. The distress which the country had experienced since 1816,
was seen to have originated, in a great degree, from inadequate
protection, particularly that which had fallen upon the manufacturing
districts. To a bill revising and improving the tariff of 1816, Mr.
Clay gave his ardent support. As on former similar occasions, he urged
its adoption on the high ground of national utility. ‘I frankly own,’
said he, ‘that I feel great solicitude for the success of this bill.
The entire independence of my country of all foreign states, as it
respects a supply of our essential wants, has ever been with me a
favorite object. The war of our revolution effected our political
emancipation. The last war contributed greatly towards accomplishing
our commercial freedom. But our complete independence will only be
consummated after the policy of this bill shall be recognized and
adopted.’ The bill, though passed by the house, was defeated in the

In 1824, the distress of the country had increased to such an
enormous extent, that the most serious apprehensions began to be
entertained, lest the productive energies of the land would be
completely annihilated, unless some remedy should be devised. There was
no department which did not feel its blighting influence; navigation
and commerce, no less than agriculture and manufactures, tottered
beneath the tremendous weight of gloom, which, like a dense cloud of
ruin, overshadowed the whole nation. Our vessels were either lying
idle at their moorings, or mostly going in ballast; all encouragement
for enterprise was taken away; produce was plenty, but purchasers few;
our granaries and store houses were full to overflowing, and in many
instances, their contents were going to decay; to obtain money, except
at ruinous rates, was out of the question, consequently labor was in
little demand and poorly rewarded; the depreciation of property of all
kinds was unparalleled, and disorder and embarrassment pervaded every
rank and condition of every industrial department. It was under such
circumstances, that a farther revision and enlargement of the tariff of
1816 was proposed. In the house, the committee on manufactures reported
a bill to that effect, at the same time expressing their opinion, that
the evils which then existed, were clearly traceable to inefficient
protection of domestic industry, and of relying too much on foreign
producers, thereby allowing the specie, the life-blood of the country,
to be drained out of it. This defect the bill proposed to remedy. Mr.
Clay came forward in its support, under the most solemn impressions
of the exceedingly lamentable condition which his country was in,
and evinced, by every tone of his voice and look of his countenance,
his deep anxiety to extend to her the hand of speedy relief. ‘If
it were allowable for us at the present day,’ said he, ‘to imitate
ancient examples, I would invoke the aid of the Most High. I would
anxiously and fervently implore his divine assistance, that he would be
graciously pleased to shower on my country his richest blessings, and
that he would sustain, on this interesting occasion, the individual
who stands before him, and lend him the power, moral and physical, to
perform the solemn duties which now belong to his public station.’ He
felt that it was indeed a sad sight, to behold a free and mighty nation
sitting in sackcloth and ashes, with her hands shackled by a policy as
unwise as it was foreign to her interests, with which, had they been
free, she could have clothed herself with beautiful garments, excited
the envy and admiration of the world, and brushed like chaff every
vestige of depression and distress from her borders. He contended that
the causes of these were easily discoverable, and as easily removable;
that they were entirely within our control, and that we had but to will
it and the work was done, and it was high time, he said, to set about
it. Evils of every description had been accumulating during the last
ten years, until they had become so numerous and great as to be no
longer patible. But it was a source of satisfaction to know that they
_need not be endured_――that they were medicable――that with a change of
policy they would disappear, as certainly as darkness disappears before
light. A cultivation of her own resources, he said, would relieve the
country. If she would break away from that state of foreign vassalage,
into which she had voluntarily entered, the streams of commerce would
again fertilize her fair fields. If she would but ♦extend her hand
and pluck from her breast the thorn, which her own suicidal policy had
planted there, he avowed his belief that the rose of industry would
spring up in its place. This change of policy, he believed, would
accomplish all that would be requisite to her peace and prosperity.
In supporting the bill, however, he had to encounter much and strong
opposition, at the head of which stood Daniel Webster. The collision
of these eloquent and intellectual giants, is said to have been
inconceivably grand. Says a gentleman who witnessed it, ‘the eloquence
of Mr. Webster was the majestic roar of a strong and steady blast,
pealing through the forest; but that of Mr. Clay was the tone of a
god-like instrument, sometimes visited by an angel touch, and swept
anon by all the fury of the raging elements.’ Mr. Clay, aware that he
was contending for the very vitality of his country, had nerved himself
up to one of his mightiest efforts, one which would demolish every
opposing obstacle, and plant his foot in complete triumph on the ruins
of the strongest holds of his assailants. He turned aside every weapon
directed against his system, and entirely disarmed all opposition.
The bill passed the house on the sixteenth of April, by a vote of one
hundred and seven to one hundred and two, and shortly after became a
law, and its beneficial effects were felt throughout the country. The
operations of this system, in connection with the United States bank,
which was now rapidly correcting the derangements in the currency,
filled the land with gladness and prosperity. Enterprise came forth
from his retiracy, to which the previous embarrassment had driven
him, and shaking the dust of sloth from his garments, cast his eyes
about over the vast and beautiful field which invited his occupancy.
Encouraged by the loud and united voices of this wisely regulated
institution, and the American system, he took immediate possession.
The desert bloomed, the forest fell, the mill arose, and the wheel of
industry, which before was slumbering on its rusting axle, under the
guidance of his potent hand began again its healthful revolutions,
and soon the land was belted by her green and golden tracks. He hushed
the voice of woe, and caused the loud shout of joy to go up from
every hill and vale throughout the nation. After she had enjoyed his
life-imparting influence eight years, Mr. Clay thus describes her
appearance. ‘We have the agreeable contemplation of a people out of
debt, innumerable flocks and herds browsing on ten thousand hills and
plains covered with rich and verdant grasses, our cities expanded, and
whole villages springing up as it were by enchantment, our exports and
imports increased and increasing, our tonnage, foreign and coastwise,
fully occupied, the rivers of our interior animated by countless
steamboats, the currency sound and abundant, the public debt of
two wars nearly redeemed, and, to crown all, the public treasury
overflowing, embarrassing congress, not to find subjects of taxation,
but to select the objects which shall be relieved from the imposts. If
the term of seven years were to be selected, of the greatest prosperity
which this people have enjoyed since the establishment of their present
constitution, it would be exactly the period of seven years which
immediately followed the passage of the tariff of 1824.’ Who can doubt,
after an impartial survey of the whole ground, (and a superficial one
is sufficient,) who can doubt that the materials for limning the above
strong, but correct picture, were furnished by a _sound currency_, and
a _judicious tariff_. As long as the term _tariff_ shall remain in the
English vocabulary, will the memory of Henry Clay, in all the verdancy
of spring, abide in the heart of the nation.

Notwithstanding the sturdy opposition which Mr. Webster arrayed against
this system, as advocated by Mr. Clay, he became its ardent supporter
when time had tested and proved its importance. Many other public
functionaries also, who had assailed it in the most vindictive manner,
laid down their weapons, and cordially embraced, with strong protecting
arms, its salutary provisions. Even bigotry and prejudice were forced
into an unwilling acknowledgement of its utility, and were soon seen
placing themselves in a situation where its benign influences would
fall upon them.

In 1819, the most exciting question that ever agitated the councils
of the nation, came before congress for adjustment――the question of
admitting Missouri as a state into the Union. It was correctly called
a ‘_distracting question_,’ for it caused a political earthquake, whose
quaking influences were felt from one end of the land to the other;
and even now its recollection causes a sensation of terror to come over
those who were the immediate witnesses of it. Its contemplation made
the stout-hearted patriot, and the immovably good of all classes, to
turn pale with fear, who believed, that unless it could be calmed, it
would engulph in irremediable ruin the liberties of the republic. It
was not the simple question of admission which convulsed the country,
but the terms with which it was proposed to connect her reception into
the confederacy――terms involving another question, one which furnished
all the fuel which kindled the fires of the most acrimonious strife,
in every section of the nation――the _question of slavery_. The question
of admission divided the country into two great parties. A large and
respectable portion of her representatives at Washington, desired
the admission to be unconditional, while the other wished it to be
subject to certain conditions, among which was the following: that
‘all children of slaves, born within the said state after the admission
thereof into the union, shall be free, but may be held to service until
the age of twenty-five years, and the farther introduction of slavery
or involuntary servitude is prohibited, except for the punishment of
crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.’ With the
certainty of intuition, Mr. Clay foresaw and predicted the alarming
consequences which would flow from the fiery crucible of public debate,
if this combustible condition was placed in it, and rang the tocsin
peal of his voice in the ears of the nation. Although opposed to
slavery, and declaring that if he were a citizen of Missouri, he would
strenuously oppose any farther introduction of slaves into her, and
provide for the emancipation of those already within her borders,
still he believed we had no right to compel her to adopt our opinions,
especially as she was unrepresented, and preferred leaving the subject
of slavery to be settled by her alone.

The condition, however, was made the subject of the most stormy debate
in the house, and carried. The bill containing it was sent to the
senate, which returned it to the house, after rejecting the condition.
Neither house would abandon its opinion, consequently the bill for
admitting Missouri was defeated, and unfortunately the question was
laid over for the action of the next session. This gave time greatly
to augment and embitter the tempest of contention that had been raised
over this matter in congress, which soon drew within its eddying vortex,
in one fierce wrangle, the _entire people_. Their representatives, on
the adjournment of congress, carried the infection among them in every
direction, which created the most violent monomania relative to this
condition, demanding the sacrifice of ease, domestic avocations, and
even health itself. The press reeked with inflammatory appeals, and
when they reässembled at the session of 1819–20, they were almost
wafted to their seats on the wings of the furious commotion. Under
such circumstances the discussion was renewed, which was conducted in
such an angry manner as to add fresh fuel to the flame raging without.
Resolutions in favor of, and opposed to the condition, were passed by
several states, and placed on the tables in congress, which already
groaned beneath the ponderous weight of similar documents, from
associations and public meetings throughout the country. These, instead
of shortening, tended only to prolong the debate. At one time, Mr. Clay
spoke about four hours against the condition, but his speech, we regret
to say, was never reported. Those who were in favor of subjecting
her admission to the specific condition, brought forward the acts of
congress passed in connection with the admission of Ohio, Indiana, and
Illinois, into the union, which was coupled with a similar condition,
or one even more restrictive in relation to slavery, as proof that it
had a right to impose conditions on admitting a state. The principal
argument of those opposed to the condition was derived from the
constitution, which they contended bestowed on congress no power
whatever over slaves, except what had already been exercised, in
prohibiting their importation after the year 1808, that the slave
states never would have joined the confederacy, if the power now
claimed had been conferred by the constitution, that the day when
it should be usurped, would be the last of the union, that Louisiana,
Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, had been admitted
into the union, unsubjected to any such condition, and that therefore
Missouri should also be received on the same ground.

After the smoke of the political battle had somewhat cleared up, the
vote was again taken on the question of restriction, which showed a
majority in the senate against, and in the house for it. At the same
time before congress was an application from Maine for admission to the
privileges of a state, which the senate coupled with that of Missouri,
but the house refused to sanction the union. Finally, the question was
referred to a joint committee from both houses, who attempted to decide
it by compromise. By this, Missouri was admitted without restriction,
but it was provided ‘that in all that territory ceded by France to
the United States, under the name of Louisiana, which lies north of
thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes north latitude, not included
within the limits of the state contemplated by this act, slavery and
involuntary servitude, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes
whereof the parties shall have been duly convicted, shall be and is
hereby forever prohibited. Provided always, that any person escaping
into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed, in any
state or territory of the United States, such fugitive may be lawfully
reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or
service as aforesaid.’

By this act of congress the territory was authorized to frame a
constitution and state government, which should not infringe any
article of the constitution of the United States, and required to
transmit to congress ‘a true and attested copy of the same,’ when a
final resolution of congress would be requisite to its admission into
the union.

In June, 1820, the territory complied with these conditions, and
introduced into her constitution an article making it the duty of the
legislature ‘as soon as might be to pass such laws as were necessary to
prevent free negroes and mulattoes from coming to and settling in the
state under any pretext whatever.’ This clause called forth the most
violent censure of the friends of restriction, which caused the flames
of contention to burst out anew and with redoubled violence. Mr. Clay
found himself, in the autumn of 1820, obliged to resign his seat
as speaker, and retire from congress, to repair by the practice of
law, his fortune, which had been greatly diminished by heavy losses
sustained by his becoming security for a friend.

At the commencement of the session of 1820–21, the constitution of
Missouri was placed in the hands of a committee, who reported in favor
of her admission. The senate passed an act to that effect, but the
house rejected it. The admission of Missouri was opposed on the ground
that free people of color were citizens of the state of their residence,
and as such they possessed an undoubted right to remove to Missouri,
and that her prohibition of their removal within her limits, was a
flagrant violation of the constitution of the United States. On the
other hand it was maintained that whether bond or free, the African
race were not parties to our political institutions, that therefore
free negroes and mulattoes were not citizens within the meaning of the
constitution of the United States, and that even if the constitution of
Missouri _were_ repugnant to that of the United States, the latter was
permanent and would overrule the conflicting provision of the former,
without the interference of congress.

Such was the question which menaced a disruption of the union. Almost
daily, in some form or other, it presented itself, wearing a more
threatening aspect at each successive appearance, engendering in the
hearts of the two contending parties, feelings of the most bitter
animosity, clogging the wheels of government, and effectually impeding,
and almost extinguishing all legislative action. Says one familiar
with this question, ♦‘popular meetings, legislative resolves, and other
demonstrations of feeling and passion were resorted to; crimination and
recrimination followed; and separation, disunion, and civil war, with
all its infinite of horrors, were the common topics of every village
and hamlet. Had a few more materials of excitement been kindled, the
work of destruction would have been instant and complete.

In this crisis, when the last fingerings of hope seemed to have
departed, that an amicable adjustment of the question would be effected,
all eyes were turned towards Mr. Clay, as the only person who could
avert the calamities which seemed suspended over the nation. He reached
Washington on the sixteenth of January 1821, and found congress in
the greatest scene of confusion imaginable. Legislation was absolutely
terminated. The most envenomed feelings of hatred rankled in the bosoms
of the two parties, who, frowning darkly on each other, bore a stronger
resemblance to two belligerent armies, with their weapons in their
hands, impatiently waiting for the word to rush into the maddening
conflict, than to companies of grave and sober legislators. He was
immediately waited on by both parties, who expressed the strongest
anxiety that the _vexed question_ might be settled and entreated him
to devise some method by which it might be consummated. He expressed
his views freely, and urged them to select some common ground on which
both parties could meet and harmonize their opinions. On the second
day of February, he made a motion to commit the question to a committee
of thirteen, to be chosen from both parties, a number suggested by the
original states of the union, which was accepted. Mr. Clay, in a report
submitted to the house on the tenth of February, by him as chairman of
the committee of thirteen, introduced a resolution for the admission of
Missouri, on the following conditions:

‘It is provided that the said state shall never pass any law preventing
any description of persons from coming to or settling in the said state,
who now are or may hereafter become citizens of any of the states of
this union, and also that the legislature of the said state by a public
act shall declare the assent of the state to this provision, and shall
transmit to the president of the United States, on or before the fourth
Monday in November next, an authentic copy of the said act, upon the
receipt whereof, the president by proclamation shall announce the fact,
whereupon and without any farther proceedings on the part of congress,
the admission of the said state into the union shall be considered
as complete, and it is provided further that nothing herein contained
shall be construed to take from the state of Missouri, when admitted
into the union, the exercise of any right or power which can now be
constitutionally exercised by any of the original states.’ The report
was made to include this provision with direct reference to those who
opposed the admission in consequence of the repugnance of a clause of
the constitution of Missouri to the constitution of the United States,
which, if they were sincere in their opposition, would cause them to
desist. The house took up the report on the twelfth, when Mr. Clay
entered into a minute detail of the deliberations of the committee,
the difficulties that attended them, and the causes which led to the
adoption of the resolution in the report, and concluded by beseeching
them to cherish a feeling of conciliation, and to temper their
proceedings by moderation. The report was rejected in committee of
the whole on the state of the union, but was afterwards adopted in the
house. On the third reading of the resolution, another sharp debate
ensued, which was terminated by Mr. Clay, who is represented as having
reasoned, remonstrated, and entreated, that the house would settle the
question. He is represented as having been almost the only individual
who was collected and calm. While others were covered with the foam
of fierce debate, and lashed into fury by the combined influences of
political or personal animosity, he seemed like one dwelling in the
region of perpetual serenity on some lofty mountain, and contemplating
unmoved the storm that was raging and bursting around its base. ‘Every
darker passion seemed to have died within him, and he looked down upon
the maddening and terrific scene with that calm and sublime regret,
and gave utterance to his thoughts in that high, majestic, and pathetic
eloquence, which seemed almost to designate him as a superior being
commissioned by heaven to warn our country against the sin of anarchy
and blood.’ The resolution, notwithstanding his exertions, was lost.

On the fourteenth, the two houses met for the purpose of ascertaining
the result of an election that had been held for president and vice
president, and while the ceremony was being performed, a scene of
confusion occurred, on the presentation of the votes of the electors
for Missouri. The senate withdrew, and with much difficulty Mr. Clay
finally succeeded in restoring order, when the senate, on its being
announced to them that the house was ready to complete the business
for which they were assembled, returned. On proclaiming the result,
it appeared that James Monroe had received two hundred and thirty-one
votes, including those of the electors from Missouri, and two hundred
and twenty-eight, if these were excluded. While the president of the
senate was announcing the result, two members of the house claimed
the floor to inquire what disposition had been made of the votes of
Missouri, whereupon a scene of confusion and turmoil ensued, that
beggars description, and the house was compelled to adjourn, in order
to put a period to it.

The rejection of the report of thirteen, both in and out of congress,
was regarded as a disaster. Those who had been most active in effecting
it, soon began to repent their rashness, and the blackness of despair
seemed to be settling down upon the councils of the nation. Mr. Clay
sagaciously concluded that the feelings of despondency which they began
to evince, would, if allowed to take their course, accomplish what
reason, and argument, and philosophy could not; that they would cause
the headstrong to reflect, and retrace their steps. He had driven
them to the very ‘_ultima thule_’ of argumentative debate, applying
the lash of logic at every step, until they had become insensible to
its infliction. ‘What is your plan as to Missouri,’ he would say to
them. ‘She is no longer a territory. She is a state, whether admitted
into the union or not. She is capable of self-government, and she
is governing herself. Do you mean to force her permanently from the
union? Do you mean to lose the vast public domain which lies within her
limits? Do you mean to drive her back to a territorial condition? Do
you intend to coërce her to alter her constitution? _How_ will you do
all this? Is it your design to employ the bayonet? We tell you frankly
our views. They are, to admit her absolutely if we can, and if not,
with the condition which we have offered. You are bound to disclose
your views with equal frankness. You aspire to be thought statesmen.
As sagacious and enlightened statesmen, you should look forward to the
fearful future, and let the country understand what is your remedy for
the evils which lie before us.’

Various propositions were submitted in both houses, for the purpose of
healing the breach which every day seemed to be widening, but all fell
short of accomplishing the object. Finally, on the twenty-second, Mr.
Clay presented the following resolution:

‘Resolved, that a committee be appointed on the part of the
house, jointly with such committee as may be appointed on the part
of the senate, to consider and report to the senate and house of
representatives respectively, whether it be expedient or not, to make
provision for the admission of Missouri into the union, on the same
footing as the original states, and for the due execution of the laws
of the United States within Missouri, and if not, whether any other,
and what provision adapted to her actual condition ought to be made a

This resolution was adopted in the house by a majority of nearly
two-thirds, and in the senate by a much larger one. The committee,
Mr. Clay proposed, should consist of twenty-three, a number answering
to all the states in the union, and so exerted his influence in their
selection, as to secure a majority favorable to the settlement of the
whole matter, in the manner and form proposed.

The joint committees met on the twenty-fifth of February, 1821, and
proceeded to consider and discuss the question of admission. Mr. Clay,
with a vigilance that did not slumber for an instant, exerted himself
to infuse into the members of the committees a portion of his own
conciliatory spirit, exhorting them to mutual concession, and declared
that it would be utterly futile to report any plan of adjustment in
which they could not unanimously concur, when it should be submitted
to the final test. So firmly convinced was he, that the effort which
they were then making, was the last feasible one that _could_ be made
for the settlement of the question on which they were deliberating, as
to cause him to address individually the members of the committees, in
order to make such thorough preparation as to preclude the possibility
of defeat. And it was found on the next day that such preparation
had been made; the resolution was adopted by a vote of eighty-seven
to eighty-one in the house, and despatched to the senate, which
unhesitatingly agreed to it, and thus the question which had convulsed
congress for three sessions, and nearly distracted the land, was
at last settled, and mainly through the influence of Mr. Clay. The
proclamation of the president was issued, and Missouri took her place
among her sisters of the confederacy. This event was greeted with the
highest demonstrations of joy, and Missouri, beautiful Missouri, from
her majestic forests and broad prairies, from her ancient mounds and
mighty rivers, pealed her loud anthems of grateful praise to her and
her country’s deliverer, hailing him as the second Washington, as one
who had plucked the brand of discord from the hands of ten millions of
enraged and exasperated people, and put in its place the olive branch
of peace. The incense of exulting hearts was lavished on Mr. Clay like
rain. His agency in settling one of the most difficult and dangerous
questions that ever has arisen since the adoption of our present
constitution, was clearly seen, deeply and gratefully felt, and thus
publicly acknowledged. No one then was so blind as not to see that it
was his hand that rent the pall of gloom, which enshrouded the whole
land. His labors and his incessant and health-destroying toils to
bring this question to a happy consummation, constituted a topic
of conversation which was in the mouth of every one. Although the
journals of the day do not record the many speeches made by him on the
occasion, yet it is reported that his exertions in speaking and acting
were almost superhuman. If a stranger arrived in Washington, whose
influence he thought could be made to bear favorably on the settlement
of the question, he instantly endeavored to enlist it. Mr. Clay himself
was heard to say, that so intense had become his excitement, and so
exhausting his efforts, his life would in all probability have been
sacrificed to them, if the admission of Missouri had been delayed a
fortnight longer. There is no doubt, that he taxed his patriotism, his
eloquence, his philanthropy, his intellect, and his every attribute of
mind and body, to the utmost, and strained the bow of life almost to
breaking, to accomplish this, and it is saying very little to observe,
that a nation’s thanks are his due, and that his signal service,
in allaying the most tremendous storm that passion, prejudice, and
sectional feeling ever raised, has imposed a debt of gratitude upon
her, which posterity alone can pay.

At the time of the greatest turbulence over the Missouri question,
when the fury of the contending parties in congress had broken down
every barrier of order and decency, and was rushing rampant over the
field of debate, certain southern gentlemen in the house, headed by Mr.
Randolph, concocted a plan for withdrawing the entire body of members
from the slaveholding states, from its deliberations, and abandon the
business to the representatives of the other states. Had this been
carried out, anarchy, civil war, and the effusion of blood would have
followed inevitably. About this time, when an amicable settlement was
nearly despaired of, and when the house was in session one evening,
Mr. Randolph approached Mr. Clay and said, ‘Mr. speaker, I wish you
would leave the house. I will follow you to Kentucky, or any where else
in the world.’ Mr. Clay, regarding him with one of his most searching
looks for an instant, replied, in an under tone, ‘_Mr. Randolph_, your
proposition is an exceedingly serious one, and demands most serious
consideration; be kind enough to call at my room to-morrow morning,
and we will deliberate over it together.’ Punctual to a minute, Mr.
Randolph was there, and closeted with Mr. Clay, discussed for some
time the then all absorbing question connected with the admission
of Missouri. Mr. Clay maintained, with all the force of his fine
colloquial powers, the _plan of compromise_, as the wisest and best
which he could suggest, and, in his opinion, that could be suggested,
declaring his sincere conviction that the slaveholding states might
adopt it, without any sacrifice of principle or interest. On the other
hand, Mr. Randolph contended that it could not and would not be adopted;
that the slave states occupied a correct position, and would maintain
it at all hazards, and would not proceed an inch towards a compromise.
They finally separated without agreeing on any thing that was
calculated to harmonize their action in congress. ‘Oh! Mr. Randolph,’
said Mr. Clay, as the former was about stepping from the house, ‘Mr.
Randolph, with your permission I will embrace the present occasion to
observe, that your language and deportment on the floor of the house,
it has occurred to me, were rather indecorous and ungentlemanly on
several occasions, and very annoying indeed to me, for, being in the
chair, I had no opportunity of replying.’ Admitting that such, perhaps,
might be the case, Mr. Randolph replied that he too had often been much
vexed at witnessing Mr. Clay’s neglect to attend to him when speaking.
Said he, ‘I have seen you often, when I have been addressing the
chair, I have seen you often turn away your head and ask for a _pinch
of snuff_.’ ‘Oh! you are certainly mistaken, Mr. Randolph, you are
mistaken if you think I do not listen to you; although I frequently
turn away my head, it is true, and ask for a pinch of snuff, still
I hear every thing you say, when seeming to hear nothing, and I will
wager, retentive as I know your memory to be, Mr. Randolph, _that I can
repeat as much of any of your recent speeches as you yourself can_.’
‘Well, I do not know but I _am_ mistaken,’ he replied, ‘and suppose we
drop the matter, shake hands, and become good friends again.’ ‘Agreed,’
said Mr. Clay, and extended his hand, which was cordially embraced
by Mr. Randolph. They never spoke to each other, however, during the
remainder of the session.

Soon after this meeting, Mr. Clay was successively, and without concert,
informed by the late governor Edwards and general C. F. Mercer, the one
a senator and the other a member of the house, that Mr. Randolph was
present at and witnessed the death scene of the gallant and lamented
commodore Decatur, that he remained gazing a long time upon his corpse,
agitated with deep emotions, and that he had been heard to express a
desire to have, and with Mr. Clay, an affair of honor similar to that
which brought Decatur to his untimely end. This information naturally
put Mr. Clay upon his guard, and ever after during the session,
whenever he met Mr. Randolph, he refrained from addressing him.

It is said that Mr. Randolph used all his influence in trying to induce
one of the gentlemen above mentioned not to agree to a settlement
of the Missouri question, as he (Mr. Randolph) feared that this, if
accomplished as it was desired, would secure Mr. Clay’s election to
the presidency.

During the same session, and some time previous to their interview,
Mr. Randolph accosted Mr. Clay with a look and manner betokening the
deepest concern, exhibiting to him a letter couched in very abusive
and insulting terms, threatening to cow-hide him, and asked Mr. Clay’s
advice as to the course he should pursue in relation to it. ‘What
caused the writer to send you such an insulting epistle, Mr. Randolph?’
said Mr. Clay. ‘Why, I suppose,’ said he, ‘it was in consequence of
what I said to him the other day.’ ‘What _did_ you say?’ ‘Why, sir,
I was standing in the vestibule of the house, when the writer came up
and introduced to me a gentleman who accompanied him, and I asked him
what right he had to introduce that man to me, and told him that the
man had just as _good a right_ to introduce _him_ to me, whereat he was
very indignant, and said I had treated him scandalously, and turning
on his heel went away. I expect that made him write the letter.’ ‘Do
you not think that he was _a little out of his head to talk in that
way_?’ replied Mr. Clay. ‘Why, I have been thinking about that,’ said
Mr. Randolph, ‘I _have_ my doubts respecting his sanity.’ ‘Well, that
being the case, would it not be the wisest course not to bring the
matter before the house? I will direct the sergeant-at-arms to keep a
sharp look out for the man, and to cause him to be arrested, should he
attempt any thing improper.’ Mr. Randolph expressed his acquiescence in
the speaker’s opinion, and nothing more was heard of the subject.

On another occasion, when the same question was before the house,
Mr. Randolph informed Mr. Clay that he had come to the conclusion to
abandon his invective and caustic irony in debate, and in future to
confine himself to pure argument; that he had come to this conclusion
in consequence of the advice of chief justice Marshall. He tried pure
argument, but was unsuccessful, not awakening any interest in those who
listened to him. He finally fell back into his old eccentric, sarcastic
track, where he was at home, and crowds flocked to hear him, as usual.
In Mr. Randolph’s hands ridicule was a powerful weapon, and one which
no member knew how to use better than he, but sound reasoning and
logical disquisition he wielded awkwardly――they were untempered weapons
when used by him, about as effective as a rush in the hands of a child.
One day he came in contact with a very able debater, Mr. Sheffey, one
of his colleagues from Virginia, who, in a playful sally, had made some
remarks which aroused the irascible temper of Mr. Randolph, who replied
to him and concluded by offering him the following _morceau_ of advice.
‘My worthy colleague possesses talents of a high order, but they are
not very versatile. They qualify him for a particular sphere only,
beyond the limits of which nature never designed him to travel. That
sphere is _logic_. In this he can do battle with the boldest, but
when he transcends it, he has less power than a pigmy. Therefore, as a
friend, I would in the spirit of kindness, advise him _never to leave
it for any other_; but especially would I caution him, as he values
his reputation and safety, never to venture within the unexplored
and unsubjugated regions of wit, for whose labyrinths and intricacies
he has neither taste nor talent. As no other motive but a tender
solicitude for the gentleman’s welfare, has prompted this advice, I
hope it will be received and appreciated accordingly.’ Mr. Sheffey, in
reply, remarked that he did not like to remain in Mr. Randolph’s debt,
and would therefore cancel the heavy demand which he owed the gentleman,
for his exceedingly valuable advice, by returning the compliment.
He accordingly advised him never to aspire after logic, as it was
an instrument of whose use his ignorance was more than sophomoric,
and that in _his_ hand it was like a _knife in the hands of a child_.
‘In my opinion, from the armory of wit the facetious member may draw
weapons every way adapted to his capacity, and I would therefore advise
him never to resort to any other.’ When he concluded, Mr. Randolph
sprang to his feet, and in his quick, off-hand way, said, ‘I will take
back all that I have said, by way of advice, to my colleague, for he
has given satisfactory evidence that he is a man both of logic and
wit.’ The incident furnished much mirth to the house. The next day,
Mr. Randolph recommenced the attack with increased bitterness, and was
called to order several times by Mr. Clay, who, after repeated trials,
succeeded in checking him. Mr. Sheffey was much excited, and was called
to order also, when Mr. Clay observed that he would be out of order in
replying, as he was, to any other member, except Mr. Randolph.

At one time, Mr. Randolph, in a strain of most scorching irony, had
indulged in some personal taunts towards Mr. Clay, commiserating his
ignorance and limited education, to whom Mr. Clay replied by saying,
‘sir, the gentleman from Virginia was pleased to say, that in one point,
at least, he coincided with me――in an humble estimate of my grammatical
and philological acquirements. I know my deficiences. I was born to
no proud patrimonial estate from my father. I inherited only infancy,
ignorance, and indigence; I feel my defects; but so far as my situation
in early life is concerned, I may without presumption say, they are
more my misfortune than my fault. But, however I deplore my inability
to furnish to the gentleman a better specimen of powers of verbal
criticism, I will venture to say my regret is not greater than the
disappointment of this committee, as to the _strength of his argument_.’

The following incident aptly illustrates Mr. Clay’s readiness at
repartee. At the time of the passage of the tariff bill, April
sixteenth, 1824, as the house was about adjourning, a friend of the
bill observed to Mr. Clay, ‘we have done pretty well to-day.’ ‘Very
well, indeed,’ rejoined Mr. Clay, instantly, ‘_very well_; we made a
good stand, considering we lost both our FEET;’ alluding to Mr. Foote,
of New York, and Mr. Foot, of Connecticut, both having opposed the bill,
who it was confidently expected but a short time previous would support

During Mr. Clay’s absence from congress, which, as has been before
stated, was occasioned to furnish him an opportunity to repair
pecuniary losses, he was appointed, in connection with Mr. Bibb, to
attend the Virginia legislature, for the purpose of adjusting certain
Kentuckian land claims. The land laws of Kentucky were a source of
great perplexity and litigation, subjecting those who had settled there
prior to her separation from Virginia, to great inconvenience and loss.
In his appeal to the general assembly of Virginia, Mr. Clay manifested
unusual anxiety to protect the interests of the occupants of the soil,
in the state from which he was a delegate, and succeeded in awakening
a corresponding feeling of sympathy in the hearts of those whom he
addressed. He drew a vivid picture of the privations and hardships
which the settler had to encounter, placed him before them in the
attitude of bidding adieu to the ‘tombs and temples of his fathers,’
then followed him to the wilderness, and traced his toilsome progress,
step by step, until he brought him to the period when he began to reap
the reward of his labors. He exhibited him sitting at twilight in the
door of his comfortable tenement, looking out upon his broad enclosures,
the happy partner of his cares by his side, and his dear little ones
enjoying their innocent pastimes around him, and almost made them see
the heavings of his grateful heart, and the moistening of his eye, as
he surveyed the abundance of domestic bliss, and peace, and plenty,
which his industrious hand had gathered about him. This, said Mr. Clay,
is the bright side of the picture; now let us look at the dark; and
then, in his solemn, impressive, and inimitably graphic manner, with
a quivering lip, and a hand tremulous with emotion, he pointed to
the same group, yet he painted no happy look, he caused no shout
of sportive joy to ascend, but he rendered audible the deep sigh,
the suffocating sob, and piercing groan; he made almost visible the
furrowed brow of toil-worn manhood wet with the dew of despair, a
broken-hearted wife drowned in grief, surrounded by sorrowing childhood,
all fixing a last look upon a home dear to them as their lives, as they
were about to depart to rear a new abode in the uninviting wilderness.
This is no picture of a heated imagination, said Mr. Clay, it is
suggested by scenes of almost every day occurrence, and it is to
_prevent_ their occurrence that prompts us to attempt the adjustment
of these conflicting ‘land claims.’ Equity, humanity, and benevolence,
all urge this; they all mingle their voices of mercy, and beseech that
when the settler has by his honest and industrious efforts acquired
the comforts and blessings of social and domestic life, he shall be
permitted to enjoy them, and not be in danger of being dispossessed by
a prior claim to his domain, and of which he was ignorant. In one of
his most pathetic strains, he attempted to quote the affecting lines
of sir Walter Scott:

               ‘Lives there a heart so cold and dead,
                That never to itself hath said――
                This is my own, my native land!’

He commenced, but could not finish them; some words had escaped his
memory, but without the least hesitation he pressed his hand upon his
forehead a moment, in recalling them. All believed that this momentary
hesitation was caused by the recollections of other years, which were
swelling in his heart and checking utterance, and when he withdrew his
hand from his brow and cast his tearful eyes over the assembly, and
in his impassioned manner repeated the lines, there was one general
gushing of tears, as if all hearts had been melted beneath his look and

In the course of the year, Mr. Clay, in behalf of Kentucky, and B. W.
Leigh, Esq., in behalf of Virginia, met at Ashland, and concluded a
convention, which was ratified by the legislature of Kentucky, and by
the house of delegates of Virginia, but was rejected in her senate, by
a small majority.

Mr. Clay had now, during his three years absence from congress,
realized his wishes in repairing his pecuniary losses, and at the
earnest and repeated requests of his fellow citizens, accepted a
renomination, and was again elected without opposition a member of
the house of representatives.

In consequence of intense application to his professional duties,
Mr. Clay’s health had become materially impaired; indeed his life
was despaired of. During the summer of 1823, he had visited, without
receiving much benefit, the Olympian Springs, in Kentucky, and
submitted to a thorough course of medicine, but all remedial means
failed to arrest what appeared to be a gradual decline, which was
conducting him apparently rapidly to the period of his dissolution.
He began to think seriously, as a last resort, on going south to spend
the ensuing winter, but it was requisite for him to be in Washington
in November, and his own feelings inclined him to be there at the
commencement of the session, in case it were practicable. He finally,
after consulting with his friends, abandoned the prescriptions of his
physicians, procured a light carriage and a good saddle-horse, and
riding, driving, and walking, leisurely made his way to the seat of
government. When he reached Washington, he was nearly well.

At the opening of the eighteenth congress, on the first Monday of
December, 1823, Mr. Clay was elected speaker to the house, over Mr.
Barbour, of Virginia, the late speaker, by a vote of one hundred and
thirty-nine to forty-two. Shortly after his election, the following
beautiful _jeu d’esprit_ appeared in the National Intelligencer.

     “As near the Potomac’s broad stream, t’other day,
        Fair _Liberty_ strolled in solicitous mood,
      Deep-pondering the future, unheeding her way,
        She met goddess _Nature_ beside a green wood.
      ‘Good mother,’ she cried, ‘deign to help me at need!
        I must make for my guardians a _Speaker_ to-day;
      The first in the world I would give them.’ ‘Indeed!
        When I made the first speaker, I made him of _Clay_.’”

Mr. Clay accepted the appointment in a brief but pertinent speech, in
which he gave a succinct view of the duties of the chair, and presented
the house his thanks for placing him in it.

In the course of the session, the subject of the Greek revolution
came before congress. Mr. Webster, of Massachusetts, on the fifth of
December, introduced it to the house, in a resolution ‘providing by law
for defraying the expenses incident to the appointment of an agent or
commissioner to Greece, whenever the president shall deem it expedient
to make such appointment.’ This he sustained by a speech of great
power. Mr. Clay brought to its support the same feelings, the same
warm sympathies, and the same strength of argument that he had arrayed
round the subject of South American independence. They both fought
hard to procure the adoption of this resolution, but it was lost. The
struggling Greek, however, Mr. Clay never lost sight of, and when he
became secretary of state, succeeded in accomplishing that for them,
in which he was defeated now.

While the question of recognition was before the house, Mr. Clay was
violently assailed by a member from New Hampshire, recently arrived. It
was thought his motive in doing this was to bring himself into notice,
by attacking the most distinguished man in the house. He received
such a rebuke from Mr. Clay, administered with mingled feelings of
indignation and pity, as almost to wither his energies during the
remainder of the session.

It will be recollected, that during this session, the great tariff
measure was passed. An incident grew out of Mr. Clay’s exertions in
its behalf, which occasioned no little amusement in Washington, at the
time, and throughout Virginia. Mr. William B. Giles, since governor
of Virginia, on the appearance of Mr. Clay’s tariff speech, published
several articles entitled ‘The Golden Casket,’ in which he introduced
Mr. Clay’s name pretty often, and in no very courteous connection. The
articles were of course perused by Mr. Clay, who, aware of the foibles
of their author, took no serious offence thereat, but set to work to
manufacture amusement from them. He sat down in a comic mood one day,
and wrote Mr. Giles a long letter, complimenting him on the vigor of
his intellect, his great mental ability, and his accurate critical
acumen, but praising him especially for those qualities of which he
was utterly destitute. When it was completed, he showed it to Mr.
Archer, of Virginia, and several other friends, all of whom enjoyed it
immoderately, and urged him to send it to Mr. Giles, and accordingly
he sent it. As had been anticipated, the old gentleman devoured it
with the greatest gusto and satisfaction. It contained just what he
most desired――praise of his weakest traits of character. He read it
repeatedly, and at each successive reading his heart relented towards
the author, to such a degree as to cause him to observe, that had
he received the communication previous to the publication of his
‘_Casket_,’ he should not have spoken of Mr. Clay as he did in that
work. Shortly after, he exhibited this letter to some of his intimate
friends, to let them see in what high estimation he was held by the
great orator and statesman, but unfortunately nearly the first one who
read it, discovered the hoax played on him, and immediately circulated
it. Curiosity to see the letter now pervaded the whole community, and
some difference of opinion prevailed as to its true character. A few of
Mr. Giles’ friends expressed their belief that it had been written in
good faith, but most that it was intended for a joke at his expense.
Quite a violent dispute grew out of it; one party instigated by angry,
and the other by mirthful feelings. At length, Mr. Archer, who resided
in the same district with Mr. Giles, returned from congress, and the
true version of the matter was soon trumpeted through the community,
which caused unusual merriment. This was too much for Mr. Giles, who
sent his son, a lad of sixteen years of age, to demand an explanation
of Mr. Clay. He received the boy very civilly, who made known to Mr.
Clay the nature of his business, saying that he was commissioned by his
father to ask if he were the author of that letter, at the same time
exhibiting to him the famous epistle, and if he were, to demand his
motives in writing it. When he had concluded his interrogations, Mr.
Clay coolly replied, ‘tell your father that I shall make no explanation
to him through his own son. If he will employ a proper messenger, I
will render him another answer.’ The lad departed, and nothing more was
heard from Mr. Giles.

On the fifteenth of August, 1824, general Lafayette, the nation’s
guest, arrived at New York, and on the tenth of December following,
was introduced to the house of representatives by a select committee
appointed for the purpose, and was received by Mr. Clay, in an apposite
and beautiful address, of which the following is an extract. ‘The
vain wish has been sometimes indulged, that providence would allow the
patriot after death, to return to his country, and to contemplate the
intermediate change that had taken place, to view the forests felled,
the cities built, the mountains levelled, the canals cut, the highways
constructed, the progress of the arts, the advancement of learning, and
the increase of population. General, your present visit to the United
States, is a realization of the consoling object of that wish. You are
in the midst of posterity. Every where you must have been struck with
the great changes, physical and moral, which have occurred since you
left us. Even this city, bearing a venerated name, alike endeared to
you and to us, has since emerged from the forest which then covered
its site. In one respect you find us unaltered, and that is, in the
sentiment of continued devotion to liberty, and of ardent affection and
profound gratitude to your departed friend, the father of his country,
and to you, and to your illustrious associates in the field and the
cabinet, for the multiplied blessings which surround us, and for the
very privilege of addressing you, which I now exercise. This sentiment,
now fondly cherished by more than ten millions of people, will be
transmitted with unabated vigor, down the tide of time, through the
countless millions who are destined to inhabit this continent, to the
latest posterity.’

To this address, the general replied in a manner which evinced that
he had been most deeply affected by it; indeed, it was calculated to
thrill his heart with proud joy, conveying to him as it did a rich
tribute of gratitude from a mighty nation, expressed in the full,
silvery voice of sincerity and affection, whose every tone sank into
his soul with the power of a warm welcome. He contracted a strong
attachment for Mr. Clay, which existed to the day of his death.

At this period, Mr. Clay’s influence had reached a commanding
height. His control over the legislation of the United States,
was unquestionably greater than that of any other individual, not
even excepting the executive himself. Although Mr. Clay disagreed
with president Monroe on the great measures of national policy,
internal improvements, and the tariff, and also respecting the
mode of recognizing South American independence, still, the latter,
entertaining the most profound regard for his ability, and appreciating
the value of his services to his country, repeatedly offered him a seat
in his cabinet, and the choice of all the foreign missions. Justice
to Mr. Clay’s disinterested patriotism demands it to be recorded, that
his honest conviction, that he could be more serviceable to his country
by remaining in her popular assembly, than in representing her abroad,
was one of the most weighty motives which prevented him from planting
his foot upon one of the many stepping-stones, to place and power,
which the hand of executive favor had, unsolicited, laid before him.
The differences of opinion existing between him and Mr. Monroe, never
interrupted for a moment, the amicable relations of social intercourse
which they mutually maintained.

Towards the close of his second term, which expired in 1825, the
question of the next presidency was generally agitated. As candidates
for this office, Messrs. J. Q. Adams, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay,
and William H. Crawford, had been brought forward by their respective
friends. As early as November, 1822, in a meeting of the members of the
legislature of Kentucky, Mr. Clay had been nominated to it, and a short
time after, he was nominated also in meetings of the members of the
legislatures of Missouri, Ohio, and Louisiana. Enthusiastic expressions,
approbating this nomination, issued from large assemblies throughout
the land, and as the period for the election approached, there were
many cheering indications that it would be carried in his favor. But
efforts were resorted to, not the most creditable to those who employed
them, for the purpose of defeating his election. About the commencement
of the canvass, reports were industriously circulated, calculated to
diminish his support. Among them was one announcing his withdrawal
from the contest, for which the unscrupulous exertions of many of his
opponents gained extensive credence, notwithstanding our late lamented
chief magistrate, and many other friends of Mr. Clay in Ohio, published
a counter report, declaring that he ‘_would not_ be withdrawn from the
contest but by the fiat of his Maker.’ The probabilities, however, of
his success, continued to increase, until the time of the choice of
electors in Louisiana, by the legislature of that state. In that body,
Mr. Clay’s popularity was such as to secure him the vote of the state;
this was evident from the fact of his nomination by it. The members of
the legislature friendly towards the other candidates, endeavored to
effect a compromise with those who supported Mr. Clay; but the latter,
aware of their strength, rejected it. The compromise proposed to give
him four of the five electoral votes to which the state was entitled,
which would have carried him into the house of representatives, to
the exclusion of Mr. Crawford, as one of the highest three candidates,
from which, according to the constitution, it would be obliged to
make a selection. Unfortunately, about the time when the state of
Louisiana made choice of her electors, three of Mr. Clay’s friends
became so seriously indisposed, as to preclude their attendance on the
legislature. This event furnished the friends of Mr. Adams and general
Jackson an opportunity to form a coälescence, which they eagerly
embraced, and divided the five votes so as to give the former three
and the latter two. This consequently excluded Mr. Clay from the
house, into which, had he gone, there is no doubt that his unbounded
popularity in that body would have secured his election to the office.
When, however, it became apparent, that no election of president would
be made by the people, with a nobleness and a nice sense of honor, so
characteristic of him, he resolved not to go into the house, but to
withdraw his name, and at a time too when the prospect was of his being
one of the highest three candidates. With great magnanimity, therefore,
he put into execution his resolution, assigning to several of his
intimate friends his reasons, among which was the belief, that by
his doing so, the choice would be more readily and pacifically made.
Such generous and self-sacrificing conduct, while it illustrates the
purity and strength of his patriotism, is worthy of all admiration and

Near the close of December, 1824, the result of the canvass was
ascertained, by which it appeared that the three candidates returned to
the house, were Andrew Jackson, John Q. Adams, and W. H. Crawford, by
votes of ninety-nine, eighty-four, and forty-one.

Mr. Clay’s position now was exceedingly delicate as well as important.
He had it in his power, by placing himself at the head of the party
who went with him in the house, to control its choice of the three
candidates returned to it. This he well knew, as also their friends,
who beset him continually and in every possible manner, to secure his
influence in behalf of their favorite candidates. His predilection was
well known to his personal friends, but he sedulously refrained from
making it the basis of any caucusses or intrigues, which, knowing
the unhealthy excitement always generated by them, he desired to
avoid. During the several weeks immediately pending the election, the
warm partisans of the parties supporting Messrs. Jackson and Adams,
approached him in the most obsequious manner, expressing the deepest
regret that he had not been returned to the house, and lavished on him
the most fulsome flatteries and mawkish caresses. After trying these
for some time ineffectually, finding the more than Roman firmness of
the statesman unmoved by them, they attempted to _coërce_ him into
a compliance with their wishes, and the most unprincipled attempts
were made to accomplish this. He was attacked through the medium
of anonymous letters incessantly, filled with abusive and menacing
language. These arrived almost hourly, from every part of the country;
indeed, the enginery of compulsion discharged their missiles at him
from every fortress of his political opponents, in the hope of making
him espouse their cause. Vain hope! A foolish waste of power, as they
might have known. It were easier for the infant of a day with his puny
hand to bow the oak of a thousand years, than for the combined efforts
of his enemies to cause him to yield an inch of the high ground he had
taken. In writing to a friend, he thus alludes to the blandishments and
brow-beatings which he received at this time. Of the former, he said,
‘I am enjoying whilst alive, the posthumous honors which are usually
awarded to the illustrious dead;’ and of the latter, he remarked. ‘I
bore them, I trust, as _your representative_ ought to have borne them,
and as became me.’ But the _basest_ attempts which they made, one which
capped the climax of their depraved assaults, and which was intended
to fix the foul stigma of disgrace indelibly upon their victim, was
embraced by a letter published in a Philadelphia newspaper, called the
‘Columbian Observer.’ Without any preamble, this charged Mr. Clay with
the deliberate intention of _selling his vote to the highest bidder_.
This letter purported to have been written by a member of congress
from Pennsylvania, and declared that the terms of a contract had been
settled, which gave Mr. Clay the secretaryship, for which he was to
bring his influence to bear in electing Mr. Adams. This allegation,
the former lost no time in denying, in a communication published in the
National Intelligencer, over his own signature, in which he pronounces
the author of the letter ‘a base and infamous calumniator,’ and called
upon him, whoever he might be, to come out boldly, avow and sustain
the charge. This was answered a few days after, by a member of congress
from Pennsylvania, Mr. George Kremer, who admitted himself the author,
and also his readiness to substantiate his assertions in relation to
the character of Mr. Clay. Subsequent developements have made it more
than probable that Kremer did _not_ write the epistle in question, his
declaration to the contrary notwithstanding, but that it was written by
the individual who sustained the ‘Columbian Observer,’ John H. Eaton,
and the latter did not deny the authorship, although Mr. Clay directly
charged him with it. The evidence elicited was such as to show Mr.
Kremer’s entire passivity in the whole matter――a mere machine, moved
by the hands of the vile plotters behind the scene, made to speak and
act as they directed, and caused to father the villainous slander,
which was generated amid the slime of their hearts, as destitute
of honor and patriotism as the icebergs of Greenland of verdure.
This supple tool had the frankness (to his credit be it spoken,) to
acknowledge afterwards to Mr. Crowninshield, a member of congress from
Massachusetts, that he _was not_ the originator or author of it.

The more effectually to vindicate himself, Mr. Clay desired to place
the subject before the house. To this he was prompted by his own
feelings, and also by the belief that the dignity and honor of the
body over which he presided, demanded that a complete investigation
should be instituted, of those gross charges which had caused such
disreputable imputations to rest upon his character. In accordance,
therefore, with his request, a committee was appointed on the fifth of
February, 1825, consisting of many leading members in the house, all
of whom were his political opponents. Probably the matter had now gone
farther than Mr. Kremer wished or expected it to go, as he began to
manifest considerable uneasiness respecting the result, notwithstanding
he had but a day or two previous arisen in his place and substantially
reiterated the contents of the communication he had acknowledged,
stating that ‘if, upon an investigation being instituted, it should
appear that he had not sufficient reason to justify the statements he
had made, he trusted he should receive the marked reprobation which
had been suggested by the speaker. _Let it fall where it might, he
was willing to meet the inquiry and abide the result._’ And yet, when
it was proposed to adopt a course which would establish the truth or
falsehood of his statements, which would test this willingness ‘_to
meet the inquiry_,’ he shrank back and shuffled under a mean subterfuge.
The committee, in their report, declared that Mr. Kremer refused
to appear before, or communicate to them any facts of which he had
virtually admitted himself to be in possession, and protested against
acting either as an accuser or a witness, although strongly urged
thereto by them, and not feeling authorized to use compulsion in
procuring evidence, they suffered the subject to drop. While it was
in the hands of the house, he was heard to remark to Messrs. Brent and
Little, one of whom was a warm friend of general Jackson, that he never
intended to charge Mr. Clay with corruption; that he had transferred
or could transfer the votes or interests of his friend; and that he was
among the last men in the nation to make such a charge against Mr. Clay.
To this declaration both these gentlemen certified. Although Mr. Kremer
was weak enough to allow himself to be made the organ of the abominable
conspirators, and, as it appears, a little contrary to his convictions
of truth and honor, he could not stifle the compunctious visitations of
_conscience_, which he experienced on account of the abusive treatment
which, through him, had fallen on an unoffending individual, and that
individual one of the main pillars of the republic. He often expressed
his intention of apologizing to Mr. Clay, and even went so far as
to prepare an apology, containing a minute explanation of all the
circumstances connected with the whole affair, from its inception to
its completion, and which fully exonerated Mr. Clay from every charge
brought against him in the letter. Information of his repentings and
intended reparation soon came to the ears of the grand instigators,
which carried panic to their cowardly hearts, and caused them to quake,
lest their party-colored covering, composed of the very quintessence
of meanness, baseness, and falsehood, should be stripped from them,
and their nakedness exposed to the view and the derision of the world.
To prevent such dreaded consequences, they began instantly to bestir
themselves, at what expense of principle or integrity, they stopped
not to consider. Their first efforts were very naturally directed
towards the instrument of their machinations, who was seized, the
apology taken from, and a muzzle fastened upon him, to prevent the
slightest utterance of his repentant emotions. They then drew up a
labored statement in his name, and laid it before the house, reeking
with duplicity, and infecting the very atmosphere with its nauseating
effluvia. Who can contemplate the loathsome picture of depravity,
worthy of the arch fiend himself, which those evidently instigated
by him, painted and attempted to suspend on the walls of the
nation’s dwelling-place――the holy home of Liberty――in desecrating and
contaminating proximity to the canvass emblazoning the form and the
features of the ‘father of his country,’ and the glorious scenes of his
revolutionary valor, without mingled feelings of disgust, indignation,
and regret?――what patriotic heart, what lover of liberty and political
virtue, in view of the fountain of immaculate purity, on the one hand,
whose streams went forth incessantly, to fertilize, and gladden, and
bless a mighty nation, and their diabolical attempts, on the other,
to pollute and blot it from existence, without sending up the fervent
ejaculation, ‘_Heaven save my country from falling into such hands_’?

After the dust and fog created by their unnatural endeavors had
passed away, the object of their malice appeared in his proper place,
as unmoved and serene as though the clangor of their strife had not
saluted his ears, and as unaffected by the showers of their envenomed
arrows, as though he had been sitting in his native forests amid
the rain-like fall of autumnal leaves. Their loud and discordant
clamors did not for a moment interrupt his meditations concerning
that important, that solemn duty, which had devolved upon him, in
the performance of which he had resolved that no arts of wheedling or
coercion should influence him; that no man nor set of men should act as
his casuist; and that he would not select from the numerous casuistical
proposals, which party zeal had placed before him, _one_ that should
determine the _mode_ of its discharge. No! he chose to settle _that_
question at a tribunal from which there was _no appeal_――at the
tribunal of _Nature_, which Nature’s God had erected in his own bosom.
To _that_ he resorted; indeed, it was one of his most favorite resorts;
and spreading out this momentous question before her bar, we hear
him exclaim, ‘_My position in relation to the presidential contest is
highly critical_, and such as to leave me no path on which I can move
without censure. I have pursued in regard to it the rule which I always
observe in the discharge of my public duty. _I have interrogated my
conscience_ as to what I ought to do, and that faithful guide tells
me that I ought to vote for Mr. Adams. I shall fulfil its injunctions.
Mr. Crawford’s state of health, and the circumstances under which
he presents himself to the house, appear to me to be conclusive
against him. As a friend to liberty, and to the permanence of our
institutions, I cannot consent, in this early stage of their existence,
by contributing to the election of a military chieftain, to give
the strongest guarantee that this republic will march in the fatal
road which has conducted every other republic to ruin. I am, and
shall continue to be, assailed by all the abuse which partisan zeal,
malignity and rivalry can invent. I shall view without emotion these
effusions of malice, and remain unshaken in my purpose. What is a
public man worth, if he will not expose himself, on fit occasions, for
the good of his country?’ Yes! he _did_ act according to the response
which that ‘_faithful guide_’ gave to his sincere interrogation, and
had the anathemas of the world been thundered in his ears, they would
not have driven him from thus acting. He deemed _her_ will paramount
to that of his constituents, who had desired him to vote for general
Jackson. They afterwards, however, not only justified, but highly
approved――as must every good man――his decision. It would be an act of
superfluity to specify minutely the grounds of Mr. Clay’s preference.
He had obtained occular evidence of Mr. Crawford’s inability to sustain
the responsibilities and perform the arduous duties of the chief
magistracy. He ascertained it to be a fact, but one carefully concealed
from the community, that Mr. Crawford had become almost entirely
debilitated by paralysis, both physically and mentally, which itself,
aside from the knowledge which he possessed, that his influence could
not elect him, was sufficient to induce his rejection. Between general
Jackson and Mr. Adams, it cannot be supposed that Mr. Clay would
long hesitate to choose. His determination had been taken a long time
previous to his knowing the result of the election by the people. He
had repeatedly given utterance to that determination to friends and
foes, at home and at Washington, in public and in private, declaring
that no _supposable contingency_ could arise to constrain him to
vote for general Jackson, and even went so far as to say, that if,
in consequence of his well known and often promulged opinion of
the character, acquirements, and abilities, of that individual, he
_should_ sustain him, he would subject himself to the just contempt and
reprobation of all parties. Neither did he nor his friends look for Mr.
Clay’s support, and said that if he did give it, he would be _guilty of
duplicity_. It is very natural to suppose, that a consultation of his
experience would be sufficient to cause Mr. Clay to prefer Mr. Adams.
He had been associated with the latter in many situations of trust and
responsibility, requiring the most consummate skill and statesmanship,
and he had invariably found him more than sufficient for them all.
He had always found him prepared for any emergency or exigency,
however suddenly or unexpectedly it might arise. But in reference
to the military chieftain, its consultation elicited evidence just
the reverse; he searched in vain for a page recording his diplomatic
wisdom, sound expositions of governmental policy, and accurate
estimates of presidential qualifications; it was wanting. But on many
he found indelibly written, acts of unwarrantable and unjustifiable
usurpation, evincing a disposition to trample on law, humanity, and
the constitution itself. But general Jackson’s supposed hostility
to internal improvements and protection to domestic manufactures,
had these enumerated deficiences and defects in his character been
wanting, would have been sufficient to exclude him from receiving
Mr. Clay’s suffrage. These cherished systems, which he regarded as of
no subordinate importance to the nation, and to establish which he had
expended the prime of his life, he knew, found a firm supporter in Mr.
Adams. This fact furnished the _fundamental reason_ (if any _one_ may
be thus denominated) which determined his choice. Mr. Clay therefore
gave Mr. Adams his vote, who was elected president. He immediately
tendered the former the office of secretary of state, which was
accepted with that promptitude and decision which he always manifested
in entering upon the discharge of those duties to which he believed
his country called him. By this act he proved himself consistent with
his advocacy of the claims of Mr. Adams to the presidency, under whom
he believed that he could render more efficient service, than in his
present position in the house. There can be no other reason assigned,
which carries with it even the shadow of validity, inducing him to
accept a place in the cabinet of the president. The same place had been
tendered him by Messrs. Madison and Monroe, and had been declined, on
the ground of his belief that he could make himself more serviceable
to the nation, by continuing where he was. The great measures of
national policy which were suspended upon his shoulders, at the time
they desired to transfer him from that body to their cabinets, he
had disposed of, and had also happily removed most of the serious
impediments and obstructions which then greatly retarded the wheels
of legislation, so that there was a fair prospect that they would roll
on smoothly, without requiring his immediate aid. He could, therefore,
seek with safety another sphere, and one where he could exert a more
extended and salutary influence.

In relation to his having bargained for the office of secretary of
state, Mr. Adams speaks, in reply to an address from a committee of
gentlemen, expressing their confidence in his purity and patriotism,
and a hope that the evening of his days would be passed in that
tranquillity which is only the lot of the good. He said that upon
Mr. Clay, ‘the foulest slanders have been showered. Long known and
appreciated, as successively a member of both houses of your national
legislature, as the unrivalled speaker, and at the same time, most
efficient leader of debates in both of them, as an able and successful
negotiator for your interests in war and in peace with foreign powers,
and as a powerful candidate for the highest of your trusts. The
department of state itself was a station, which, by its bestowal, could
confer neither profit nor honor upon him, _but upon which he has shed
unfading honor by the manner in which he has discharged its duties_.
Prejudice and passion have charged him with obtaining that office
by bargain and corruption. _Before you, my fellow citizens, in the
presence of our country, and of heaven, I pronounce that charge totally
unfounded._ This tribute of justice is due from me to him, and I
seize with pleasure the opportunity, offered me by your letter, of
discharging the obligation.

‘As to my _motives_ for tendering to him the department of state when I
did, let that man who questions them come forward. Let him look around
among statesmen and legislators of this nation, and of that day. Let
him then select and name the man, whom, by his preëminent talents, by
his splendid services, by his ardent patriotism, by his all-embracing
public spirit, by his fervid eloquence in behalf of the rights and
liberties of mankind, by his long experience in the affairs of the
union, foreign and domestic, a president of the United States, intent
only upon the honor and welfare of his country, ought to have preferred
to Henry Clay. Let him name the man, and then judge you, my fellow
citizens, of my motives.’

Five years subsequent to his election, in a letter to a friend,
Mr. Adams referred to the above testimonial of Mr. Clay’s talents and
character, as one from which he could deduct nothing, but to which he
could add much. He also said, that such was his opinion of Mr. Clay’s
abilities, that he had expressed to him his candid intention, at
the time he resigned the speakership, in 1820, if a vacancy should
occur in the mission to Great Britain, he should deem it his duty to
recommend the nomination of him to that office. He also speaks of the
great despatch and facility, with which Mr. Clay transacted business,
notwithstanding the feebleness of his health during the whole time.
Indeed, he regarded him as a _perfect model_ of fitness for the office
to which he called him, and as having honored and adorned it with the
intellectual wealth of his fertile mind. No station in which he was
placed, suffered, either through remissness, or deficiency. The fact
that his entrance to office was always hailed with general joy, and
his departure witnessed with regret, furnished the highest possible
compliment to his ability and eminence. Had we space, and felt disposed,
we could multiply individual complimentary expressions to almost any
extent, but this is not necessary, for his fame and praise are in the
mouth of the world. The period of Mr. Clay’s speakership may be adduced
as one of the most brilliant of his public life. He illustrated it
by all the lofty attainments of one profoundly versed in the arts of
government, under the guidance of patriotism, that subordinated every
thing to its ardor and devotion. During his occupancy of the chair,
from 1811 to 1825, except two years of voluntary absence, his decisions,
though prompt, were rarely reversed. Though a warm partisan, he never
allowed his own particular views to influence them in the least, and
both friends and foes unite in declaring, that their rendition was far
removed from all suspicion of party or venal considerations, in short;
that on them all was stamped _impartiality_, in everduring characters.
But Mr. Clay, besides rendering himself conspicuous for the correctness
of his decisions, won also the regard and confidence of the house
for the courteously stern manner in which he governed and guided its
deliberations. He combined, in a preëminent degree, the _suaviter in
modo_ with the _fortiter in re_. There was an indescribable something
in his look, gesture, and tone of voice, added to his dignity and
self-possession, that always restrained and conciliated the turbulent
and inimical, and bound to him, with the silken ligaments of love, the
peaceable and friendly. At no period of our political history, were
subjects so momentous and dangerous in their nature, and so difficult
to adjust, brought before congress, as during that of which we are
speaking. The political heavens had never been so black, nor the
political ocean heaved his surges so high, before, and had not _he_
been there to spread the bow of serenity upon the one, and calm
the wild fury of the other, it is hardly too much to say, that our
liberties, our institutions, and our every thing nationally valuable,
would have been swept by the besom of their rage into the tomb of chaos,
if not into oblivion. But _he was there_, ruling, tempering, guiding,
and blessing. He seemed to act as though he were conscious that his
country stood at his side, with her piercing eyes fixed full upon
him, reading the secrets of his heart,――as though he heard her voice
sounding in his ears, imploring and beseeching him to guard and watch
over, faithfully, those interests which she had so unreservedly placed
in his hands, and whenever he lifted his arm, or opened his mouth,
it seemed to be for the single purpose of executing her _revealed
will_. No wonder that in view of such unparalleled patriotism and
disinterestedness, applause should be extorted from the mouth of
enmity itself. No wonder that it should be heard saying, ‘_Mr. Clay
accomplished what no other man could have performed_.’

Many incidents occurred during his speakership, highly illustrative of
his playfulness, wit, and readiness, of which the following may serve
as a specimen.

On one occasion, the late general Alexander Smyth, of Virginia, a
gentleman of unusual ability and erudition, had been speaking a long
time, fatiguing and vexing the house with the length and number of his
quotations, and citations of authorities, and justified his unbearable
prolixity by saying to Mr. Clay, who was seated near him, ‘_you_, sir,
speak for the present generation, but _I_ speak for posterity.’ ‘Yes,’
he immediately replied, ‘and you seem resolved to speak until the
arrival of _your_ audience!’

On another, the house was harangued by the late governor Lincoln, of
Maine, in his usual eloquent, but verbose and declamatory manner. He
was considering the revolutionary pension bill, and replying to an
argument which opposed it on the ground that those to whom it proposed
to extend pecuniary aid, might perhaps live a long time, and thus
cause heavy drafts to be made upon the treasury. In one of his elevated
flights of patriotic enthusiasm, he burst out with the exclamation,
‘_soldiers of the revolution, live forever!_’ Mr. Clay succeeded him,
in favor also of the humane provision, but did not respond to his
desire relative to the length of the lives of those worthies for whose
benefit it was devised, and when he closed, turned suddenly towards
Mr. Lincoln, and, with a smile upon his countenance, observed, ‘I hope
my worthy friend will not insist upon the very great duration of these
pensions which he has suggested. Will he not consent, by way of a
compromise, to a term of nine hundred and ninety-nine years, instead of

We have seen, that the contest which resulted in placing Mr. Adams
at the head of the nation, was one of unusual violence, and in waging
which, the most unscrupulous means were employed; and that one of its
most unredeeming features was the unmitigated calumny and abuse, which
they heaped upon Mr. Clay. But soon after the combatants had retired
from the field of conflict, and resumed their various avocations,
the jarring elements of political faction became quiescent, the blood
of the ambitious demagogue fell from its fever heat to its ordinary
temperature, and the foul slanderer, fearing exposure, had slunk away
to his dark retreat, to deplore his discomfiture, and concoct new
materials. Every thing gave omen that a season of peace and grateful
repose would be enjoyed. It was thought that no lover of these and
of good order, much less a patriot, could be found, who would be base
and foolhardy enough to stir up the expiring embers of strife, and add
fresh fuel to their flames. Those who entertained this belief, however,
found themselves mistaken. They saw one coming forth, one who boasted
long and loud of patriotism and devotion to country, and, stooping from
his supposed lofty eminence of political virtue, pick up the relaxed
bow of slander, and discharge the most envenomed arrows of malice and
detraction, at one of the fairest ornaments of that very country, to
whose interests he professed himself so strongly attached. To their
utter astonishment, they beheld, in that individual, thus anomalously
engaged, no less a personage than that of ‘_the hero of New Orleans_.’
General Jackson had _the distinguished honor of reviving the thousand
times refuted report_ of ‘bargain and corruption,’ in relation to Mr.
Clay’s acceptance of the department of state. A letter, dated March
eighth, 1825, went the rounds of the newspapers, pretending to give the
substance of a conversation which passed between the writer and general
Jackson, to the effect that Mr. Clay’s friends in congress had proposed
to _his_ friends, that if they would agree that Mr. Adams should not
be retained in the department of state, that then their (Mr. Clay
and his supporters) influence should be immediately used to elect
general Jackson, who, it affirmed, rejected the proposal with becoming
indignation. Soon after the appearance of this communication, the
author, Mr. Carter ♦Beverley, addressed general Jackson, requesting
him to confirm it, who replied, June fifth, 1827, by a letter directly
charging the friends of Mr. Clay with having proposed to him, through
a member of congress, to give him their support in case he (general
Jackson) would pledge himself not to retain Mr. Adams as aforesaid, and
who intimated that the proposition originated with Mr. Clay; and, to
give the last finishing stroke, and one which should ensure it credence,
he went so far in that reply as to state, _that immediately after the
rejection of the proposition, Mr. Clay came out openly for Mr. Adams_.
He also declared, that, in reply to this proposition, he stated, that
before he would reach the presidential chair by such ignoble means, ‘he
would see the earth open and swallow both Mr. Clay and his friends, and
himself with them!’ The name of the member of congress was demanded by
Mr. Clay, and that of Mr. Buchanan, of Pennsylvania, was given, a warm
personal friend of general Jackson’s. His version of the matter proved
the assertion of the latter a barefaced falsehood, unsupported by even
the semblance of truth. Mr. Buchanan flatly and promptly denied, that
such a proposition had been made through him as had been alleged, and
entirely exonerated Mr. Clay and his adherents from all connection with
it. He stated, that, during the month of December, 1824, hearing it
currently reported in Washington, that general Jackson, in case he was
elected president, designed to continue Mr. Adams as secretary of state,
and thinking that such a report, if not properly contradicted, would
operate detrimentally to his interests, he called on him, and expressed
his opinion in relation thereto, and that the general declared, that
he entertained a high opinion of Mr. Adams, but had never said any
thing in relation to retaining or rejecting him as secretary of state,
and that he (Mr. Buchanan) was authorized to state, that such was the
result of the interview. Mr. Buchanan also declared his honest and
sincere conviction, that ‘general Jackson did not believe or entertain
the most distant idea that he came on behalf of Mr. Clay or of his
friends, until the publication of the letter making that accusation.’

Thus the burden of proof of the vile calumny, which had been placed
upon the shoulders of the calumniator himself, remained unmoved. The
united efforts of himself and friends, instead of disengaging it, only
rendered its magnitude more visible, and its deformity more gross. The
eyes of the nation have been directed to it, and many pure patriots, of
all parties, in view of it, with saddened hearts, have exclaimed, ‘alas,
alas, for the all-absorbing prevalence of party spirit――for the frailty
of human nature!’

Though no substantiating evidence was, or could be, produced, by those
who sought to produce it, a mass of refuting testimony was obtained
by Mr. Clay and his friends, perfectly overwhelming. A circular letter
was addressed to the western delegation of 1825, who were the principal
individuals implicated in the charges against Mr. Clay, soliciting
their views respecting them, who _unhesitatingly pronounced them false_;
and many stated, that their determination to vote for Mr. Adams was
formed _previous to knowing Mr. Clay’s intention_. This testimony
Mr. Clay embodied in a pamphlet, which he published in January, 1828,
containing evidence more than sufficient to convince any unprejudiced
mind, that he had repeatedly and unambiguously declared his intention
to vote for Mr. Adams, long before the alleged proposition was said to
have been made. In this he says, ‘I make no appeal to public sympathy.
I invoke only stern justice. If truth has not lost its force, reason
its sway, and the fountains of justice their purity, the decision must
be auspicious. With a firm reliance upon the enlightened judgment of
the public, and conscious of the zeal and uprightness with which I have
executed every trust committed to my care, I await the event without
alarm or apprehension. Whatever it may be, my anxious hopes will
continue for the success of the great cause of human liberty, and of
_those high interests of national policy_, to the promotion of which,
the best exertions of my life have been faithfully dedicated. And my
humble, but earnest prayers will be unremitted, that all danger may
be averted from our common country, and especially that our union, our
liberty, and our institutions, may long survive, a cheering exception
from the operations of that fatal decree, which the voice of all
history has hitherto uniformly proclaimed.’

Though utterly abortive were all the attempts of the enemies of Mr.
Clay, to injure him in the estimation of the unprejudiced and the good,
still, they managed to make political capital out of the charges of
bargain and corruption. Notwithstanding this final appeal to the people,
embraced, substantially, the numerous evidences of their falsehood,
evidences that had been repeated again and again, still, there were
found thousands who believed these charges, and many servile partisan
presses to circulate them, and carefully suppress the proofs of their
untruth. These labored unremittingly, to make the community believe,
that general Jackson was absolutely cheated out of his election by
Mr. Clay, and multitudes settled down on this belief, and clung to it
with an obstinacy, that would not have been moved, had he _sealed his
protestation of their falsehood with his blood_. This belief was so
congenial to the feelings of many, as to cause them to turn a deaf ear
to any statement calculated to weaken it. A specimen of this class of
individuals fell under the personal observation of Mr. Clay, while, in
1828, he was travelling in Virginia, accompanied by some friends. ‘We
halted,’ said he, ‘at night, at a tavern kept by an aged gentleman,
who, after supper, sat down by me, and, without hearing my name, but
understanding that I was from Kentucky, remarked, that he had four sons
in that state, and that he was very sorry they were divided in politics,
two being for Adams, and two for Jackson. He wished they were all for
Jackson. Why? I asked him. Because, he said, that fellow _Clay, and
Adams, had cheated Jackson out of the presidency_. Have you ever seen
any evidence, my old friend, said I, of that? No, he replied, _none,
and he wanted to see none_. But, I observed, looking him directly and
steadily in the face, suppose Mr. Clay were to come here and assure you,
upon his honor, that it was all a vile calumny, and not a word of truth
in it, would you believe him? No, replied the old man, promptly and
emphatically. I said to him, in conclusion, will you be good enough to
show me to bed, and bade him good night. The next morning, having in
the interval learnt my name, he came to me full of apologies, but I at
once put him at his ease, by assuring him that I did not feel, in the
slightest degree, hurt or offended with him.’

These calumnious allegations have expended their strength, and are now
remembered and denominated only as the vilest fabrication of the most
unscrupulous political malice, to destroy the most exalted patriotism
and unsullied political virtue, that ever adorned this or any other
country. The individual against whom they were directed, not merely
outlived them, but also secured the civic wreath of honor, in which
flashes, in everduring brilliancy, many a gem of public favor. It was
a sublime sight, for a mighty nation to see her most distinguished
son, single-handed, holding on his patriotic course, now breasting
the ungovernable waves of faction, and now making his way through the
serried ranks of vindictive assailants, casting their weapons from
him as the lion shakes the dewdrops from his mane, or, seated in the
unmoved majesty of his integrity, regarding them as the ocean rock
looks down and laughs at the impotency of surge and storm, breaking
harmlessly against his feet. Through all, he passed to the chair of
state, unshorn of a lock of his might. The duties of that arduous
station he discharged with a zeal and fidelity, which may be equalled,
but not surpassed. These had become greatly multiplied when Mr. Clay
entered upon it, in consequence of the extension of our foreign
relations, which required the preparation of many documents that
devolved upon it. It would be impracticable to give even a list of
these. His health was so feeble, that he intimated to the president his
intention of resigning his office in 1828, but, through the persuasion
of his friends, consented to remain. It is surprising, that, under
such circumstances, the official records, during his term of service,
show a greater amount of labor performed than was accomplished by any
of his predecessors, who enjoyed those collateral aids which it was
impracticable for him to obtain. In the single article of treaties,
his incumbency was illustrious. The number negotiated and concluded
by him, at Washington, is greater than that of all which had ever been
previously concluded there, from the first adoption of the constitution.
These relate chiefly to commerce, navigation, and neutral rights, and
were entered into between the United States, Central America, Prussia,
Denmark and the Hanseatic Republic, and Austria, though he vacated his
office previous to the ensealing of the treaty with the latter. With
foreign ministers at Washington, he was a great favorite, and on terms
of salutary intimacy, which enabled him to consult most advantageously
the best interests of his country, in negotiating with them. In
devising and framing these instruments, Mr. Clay not only found ample
scope for the exercise of his mental faculties, but also for those
amiable qualities of his character which enhanced the pleasure of his
personal intercourse, and which contributed not a little in obtaining
liberal terms for his country. He laid the foundation of an arrangement
with Russia, for the settlement of certain claims of American citizens.
These treaties furnish a full refutation of the charge often preferred
against him, of being indifferent to, and unmindful of our foreign
commercial interests, and as being willing to sacrifice them in
fostering domestic trade and manufactures. A perusal of these is
sufficient to convince the most skeptical, that our foreign commercial
interests lay as near his heart as any other subject of diplomatic
action. He abrogated in them a clause introduced into the London
treaty of 1815, by which English and American vessels were restricted,
in their commercial intercourse with one another, to articles of
the growth or manufacture of each, and inserted one in its place,
permitting them to enter their ports, without any regard being had to
the place of growth and manufacture of their cargoes. This removed what
experience had proved to be a most serious impediment to our navigation,
and seemed so just and proper in Mr. Clay’s estimation, that, in
speaking of it, he says, ‘its reciprocity is perfect; and when it comes
to be adopted by all nations, we can scarcely see any thing beyond it,
in the way of improvement to the freedom and interests of their mutual
navigation. The devices of maritime nations have been various, to
augment their marine, at the expense of other powers. When there has
been a passive acquiescence in the operation of these devices, without
any resort to countervailing regulations, their success has sometimes
been very great. But nations are now too enlightened to submit quietly
to the selfish efforts of any one power to engross, by its own separate
legislation, a disproportionate share of navigation in their mutual
intercourse. These efforts are now met by opposite efforts, restriction
begets restriction, until the discovery is at last made, after a long
train of vexatious and irritating acts and manœuvres on both sides,
that the course of selfish legislation, ultimately, does not effect the
distribution of maritime power, whilst it is attended with the certain
evil of putting nations into an ill humor with each other. Experience
at last teaches, that, in every view, it is better to begin and
continue in the career of liberality.’

This restriction, however, Great Britain would not abandon, when urged
thereto by Mr. Gallatin, whom Mr. Adams had empowered to treat with
that nation, in relation to the trade between the United States and
her colonial dependencies. He was particularly instructed by Mr. Clay
to make the subject of the West India trade a matter of special
negotiation. Unsuccessful efforts to effect a mutually advantageous
arrangement, had been made several years previous, and Mr. Gallatin
was despatched to resume them, at the request of the British minister
at Washington. The former was told, immediately after presenting his
credentials, that the British government would not treat concerning the
West India trade, and also that she would not admit the United States
to participate in it, because they had not complied with the provision
of a certain act of parliament relating to it, of which act they were
in utter ignorance. Its passage had never been officially announced
to them, at London or at Washington. The act itself was vague, and
when the British minister was questioned by Mr. Clay respecting its
application, the former was unable to explain its ambiguity, or to
say whether it was intended to apply to the United States or not, as
there was nothing in his instructions relating to it. In connection
with refusing to negotiate with Mr. Gallatin, Great Britain insulted
the United States through him, by declaring that _they were bound to
know and take notice of the acts of parliament_! We doubt whether the
diplomacy of any other nation ever presented such a flagrant assertion,
so arrogantly assumptive, and so palpably unjust. The result, of course,
was inevitable; direct intercourse between the United States and the
West India ports of Great Britain, in British or American vessels, was
mutually prohibited. Mr. Clay’s official correspondence, in relation to
this question, is replete with argument and sound reasoning.

The expansiveness of Mr. Clay’s love of freedom, again exhibited
itself soon after entering upon the duties of his office. Although
they were such as to keep him continually and exhaustingly engaged,
he nevertheless found time to extend his commiseration and his aid to
those nations, the recognition of whose independence, by his country,
he had endeavored to procure some time previous. His situation was now
such as to give him an opportunity of accomplishing this. From time
to time he spread the subject before the executive, and so eloquently
pleaded their cause, that a minister was despatched by our government
to Greece, which resulted in the recognition of her independence by it.
In this the United States was first, and through the influence of Mr.
Clay did she make this benevolent movement. As he had anticipated, it
infused new strength into the hearts of the struggling Greeks, who had
begun to sink beneath the Turkish scimetar.

Mr. Clay’s official letter to Mr. Middleton, our minister at Russia,
dated May tenth, 1825, is a paper of great polish and skill. Mr. Clay
had witnessed, for seventeen years, the devastating wars which had
raged between Spain and her South American colonies, and fervently
desired to see them terminated. For this purpose, he projected and
prepared the document aforesaid, independent of all suggestion or aid,
from any public functionary. He had familiarized himself with the facts
connected with these wars, which, in the most striking and beautiful
manner, he spread out before the emperor, and urged him to use his
influence in bringing about an event which he so ardently desired.
This communication was so skilfully and ingeniously framed, as to
direct the attention of Alexander to the struggling Greeks, and enlist
his influence in their behalf, which was precisely what the writer
wished, though he did not say so in so many words. Mr. Clay’s efforts
were triumphantly successful. The emperor instructed his minister at
the Spanish court, to use every proper exertion to terminate these
sanguinary conflicts, which eventuated in the acknowledgement of
South American independence, by the parent country. The emperor also
took sides with the Greeks, made certain proposals, relative to them,
to the grand sultan, and, on their being rejected, instantly set about
making preparations to march against him. Before their completion he
deceased, but his successor took them up, and struck a blow so decisive
as to put an instant period to his barbarities. Thus Mr. Clay’s
influence, through this instrument, set in motion means that moved both
hemispheres, and accomplished results, the sum of whose benefits and
blessings, never has been, and never can be, ascertained.

If we were to single out one from the multitude of official papers
prepared by Mr. Clay during his secretaryship, as evincing the most
ability and skill, it would be the letter of instructions to Messrs.
John Sergeant and Richard C. Anderson, delegates from the United States
to the congress at Panama, convened at the request of the republics of
Colombia, Mexico, and Central America, whose representatives were also
present. The object of this congress was not very definitely stated
in the request for it, and, before appointing delegates, Mr. Clay
endeavored to ascertain the nature and extent of the subjects upon
which they would deliberate, and the powers with which it would be
proper to clothe them. This object, though not precisely ascertained,
was presumed to be honorable; indeed, the convention was believed to
have been suggested by the declaration of president Monroe, that, in
case of any interference of any of the allied powers, in the contest
between Spain and her former colonies, the United States would not
remain an indifferent spectator. This declaration very naturally
led the republics before mentioned, towards whom the Holy Alliance
maintained a hostile attitude, to seek the cultivation of those
amicable relations with the United States, which would secure their
aid, in case it should be desired. In Mr. Clay’s letter of instructions,
the delegates were authorized to treat of peace, friendship, commerce,
navigation, maritime law, neutral and belligerent rights, and other
subjects of mutual interest. Subjoined, is an extract from this able

Speaking of the regulation respecting private property, which
ought to exist on the ocean in time of war, he said: ‘although, in
the arrangement of things, security against oppression should be
the greatest where it is most likely to be often practiced, it is
nevertheless remarkable, that the progress of enlightened civilization
has been much more advanced on the land than on the ocean. And,
accordingly, personal rights, and especially those of property, have
both a safety and protection on the former, which they do not enjoy
on the latter element. Scarcely any circumstance would now tend more
to exalt the character of America, than that of uniting its endeavors
to bring up the arrears of civilization as applied to the ocean, to
the same forward point which it has attained on the land, and, thus
rendering men and their property secure against all human injustice
and violence, leave them exposed only to the action of those storms
and disasters, sufficiently perilous, which are comprehended in
the dispensations of providence. It is under the influence of these
and similar considerations, that you will bring forward, at the
contemplated congress, the proposition to abolish war against private
property and non-combatants on the ocean. Private property of an enemy
is protected, when on land, from seizure and confiscation. Those who do
not bear arms there, are not disturbed in their vocations. Why should
not the same humane exemption be extended to the sea?’

Respecting religious toleration, he remarks, ‘you will avail yourselves
of all suitable occasions to press upon the minister of the other
American states, the propriety of a free toleration of religion, within
their respective limits. In the United States, we experience no
inconvenience from the absence of any religious establishment, and the
universal toleration which happily prevails. We believe that none would
be felt by other nations who should allow equal religious freedom. It
would be deemed rash to assert, that civil liberty and an established
church cannot exist together in the same state; but it may be safely
affirmed, that history affords no example of their union, where the
religion of the state has not only been established, but exclusive. If
any of the American powers think proper to introduce into their systems
an established religion, although we should regret such a determination,
we would have no right to make a formal complaint, unless it should
be _exclusive_. As the citizens of any of the American nations have a
right, when here, without hindrance, to worship the Deity according to
the dictates of their own consciences, our citizens ought to be allowed
the same privilege, when, prompted by business or inclination, they
visit any of the American states. You are accordingly authorized to
propose a joint declaration, to be subscribed by the ministers of all
or any of the powers represented, that, within their limits, there
shall be free toleration of religious worship. The declaration on this
subject in which you are authorized to unite, as well as that directed
against European colonization within the territorial limits of any
of the American nations herein before mentioned, does no more than
announce, in respect to the United States, the existing state of their
institutions and laws.’

These instructions reflect the highest honor on Mr. Clay, and when, in
March, 1829, their publication was called for, in connection with other
documents relating to the Panama mission, it was rancorously opposed by
his enemies, who foresaw clearly that it would increase his popularity
and add to his celebrity, as well as refute their assertion, that
the object of the administration, in sending delegates to the Panama
congress, was to carry into effect objects utterly at variance with the
interests and true policy of the United States.

Mr.Clay’s method of preparing state papers, was, to make himself
perfectly master of the subjects to be considered, by perusing all the
papers on file relating to them, and afterwards draw up the documents
in a form that seemed to him correct, and then submit them to the
inspection of the president, who, it is understood, seldom found it
necessary to suggest the slightest alteration.

During his term of service, Mr. Clay was under the painful necessity
of reproving a foreign minister. Our _chargé d’affaires_ at the court
of Brazil, had, by his intimidating manner, rendered himself very
unpopular, and brought our affairs into great embarrassment at Rio de
Janeiro. He frequently indulged in harsh and disrespectful language
toward officers of the Brazilian government. Mr. Clay conveyed to him
the rebuke of the United States, for these misdemeanors, which, though
severe, was couched in language calculated to give the least possible

The confidence of Mr. Adams was liberally and voluntarily given to
Mr. Clay, nor could it have been better bestowed. With all the acts of
the latter, he expressed himself entirely satisfied――except his affair
of honor with Mr. Randolph. Of this he disapproved, most heartily
and unequivocally; and Mr. Clay himself greatly regretted it. Many
evidences are on record of Mr. Adams’s regard for Mr. Clay, both of a
public and private character. The following is an interesting one.

Says a correspondent of the Newark Daily Advertiser, ‘I have frequently
observed ladies’ albums circulating through the house and senate
chamber, with the view of collecting the autographs of the members.
I saw one this morning which contained a page of well written poetry,
dated twenty-third July, 1842, in the tremulous hand-writing of John
Q. Adams, descriptive of the wild chaos at present spread over our
political affairs, and anticipated coming events, which would bring
order out of disorder. The closing verse was as follows:

               ‘Say, for whose brow this laurel crown?
                  For whom this web of life is spinning?
                Turn this, thy album, upside down,
                  And take the end for the beginning.’

The meaning of this was somewhat mystical, but, by turning to the back
of the book, and inverting it, on its last page a piece was found with
the signature of ‘H. CLAY!’

Seldom, perhaps, has an administration been assailed with more
violence, or with less cause, than that of Mr. Adams. Perhaps the
hostility manifested towards it, was occasioned, to a considerable
extent, by Mr. Clay’s connection with it, and from the fact that the
views of the president, in relation to the great measures of national
policy, harmonized perfectly with his own. This gave to the opposition,
of the ultra advocates of state rights, its bitterest venom, which was
profusely lavished upon it. As soon as Mr. Clay left the house, his
old eccentric foe, Mr. Randolph, cast off all restraint, and spoke and
acted as though law and order were not for him; suffering no occasion
to pass unimproved in abusing Mr. Clay, and often travelling out of
his way to seek one. The subject of the Panama mission furnished him
rich materials for exercising his peculiar genius, which he employed in
the most insulting manner towards him. He characterized that unison of
sentiment to which we have alluded, which existed between the president
and Mr. Clay, as a ‘coalition of Blifil and Black George――a combination
of the Puritan with the black-leg’――and charged Mr. Clay with ‘stealing
a leaf from the curse book of PANDEMONIUM.’ Such language would be
disgraceful under any circumstances, but especially on the floor of
the senate chamber. Mr. Randolph seemed determined to bring about a
personal conflict with Mr. Clay, from what motives it is difficult
to determine, for the latter gave him no cause of abuse, carefully
avoiding him as he did. But the former went on, day after day,
unprovoked, adding injury to injury, heaping insult upon insult upon
the latter, until further forbearance became exceedingly difficult,
to say the least, especially as Mr. Clay was surrounded by his
family. Says an individual intimately acquainted with the parties,
‘Mr. Randolph knew that his every word, whether spoken in his sober
or inebriated moments, was pregnant with death, to the pride and
the happiness of the innocent and the lovely.’ Although he himself
had no family; although he was an individual in reference to whom
a distinguished friend of ours once thanked God in congress, that
monsters could not perpetuate their species; still he must have known,
from hearsay, that the feelings of a wife and a daughter are keenly
sensitive. Had Mr. Clay held a seat in the senate, Mr. Randolph,
dark as were his designs, and much as he longed for a quarrel, would
not have dared to use the language of open outrage. There was ever
something in Mr. Clay’s eye, before which his spirit quailed and
blinked, like a frighted thing. Mr. Clay, however, was absent, and
every day of his forbearance added bitterness to the insults that were
heaped on him. What could he do? Undoubtedly, that religion, whose
kingdom is not of this world, required him to endure patiently unto the
end. It is a matter of regret that he did not, but who shall censure
him harshly, for having, in a moment of uncontrollable exasperation,
turned upon his pursuer and dared him to single combat!

Of the duel, itself, it is not necessary to say much. Mr. Randolph, in
defiance of established usage, went upon the field in a huge morning
gown; and the seconds, had not Mr. Clay interfered, would have made
this singular conduct the occasion of a quarrel. In due time the
parties fired, and luckily for both of them, or at least for Mr. Clay,
Mr. Randolph’s life was saved by his gown. The unseemly garment
constituted such a vast circumference, that the locality of ‘the thin
and swarthy senator’ was at least a matter of very vague conjecture. Mr.
Clay might as well have fired into the outspread top of an oak, in the
hope of hitting a bird that he supposed to be snugly perched somewhere
among the branches. His ball hit the centre of the visible object, but
_Randolph was not there_! and of course the shot did no harm and no
good. After the first discharge, Mr. Randolph, by firing into the air,
showed his disinclination to continue the fight. He immediately walked
up to Mr. Clay, who was still standing in his place, and, parting the
folds of his gown, pointed to the hole where the bullet of the former
had pierced his coat, and, in the shrillest tones of his squeaking
voice, exclaimed, ‘_Mr. Clay, you owe me a COAT, you owe me a COAT_!’
to which he replied, in a voice of slow and solemn emphasis, at the
same time pointing directly to Mr. Randolph’s heart, ‘MR. RANDOLPH,
_I thank God that I am no DEEPER in your debt!_’

We are no apologist for the duelist; we regard the practice of duelling
with the deepest detestation and abhorrence, and believe it unjustified,
under any circumstances; still, we unhesitatingly say, that those which
surrounded Mr. Clay, were approximated as nearly to a justification,
as any possibly could. He had resorted to all honorable means to avoid
a duel with Mr. Randolph; calling upon and desiring him to explain
or retract his insulting language, but he flatly refused. It may not
be amiss to state, in this connection, that Mr. Clay reprobated the
practice of duelling, himself. This appears from his avowed sentiment
relative thereto. ‘I owe it,’ said he, ‘to the community, to say, that
whatever, heretofore, I may have done, or by inevitable circumstances
may be forced to do, no man in it holds in deeper abhorrence than
I do, the pernicious practice of duelling. Condemned as it must be,
by the judgment and philosophy, to say nothing of the religion, of
every thinking man, it is an affair of feeling, about which we cannot,
although we should, reason. The true corrective will be found, when all
shall unite, as all ought to unite, in its unqualified proscription.’

The hostile meeting between Mr. Randolph and Mr. Clay, occurred April
eighth, 1826. Their last interview took place in March, 1833, a short
time previous to the decease of the former. He was on his way to
Philadelphia, where he died. Being unable to walk or stand without
assistance, he was borne into the senate chamber, to which he was
about to pay his last visit. The senate was in session by candlelight.
Mr. Clay had risen to make some remarks on the compromise act. ‘Help
me up,’ said Mr. Randolph, sitting in a chair, and speaking to his
half-brother, Mr. Tucker, ‘help me up; _I have come to hear that voice
once more_.’ When Mr. Clay concluded, he approached, and shook Mr.
Randolph cordially by the hand, and thus terminated their intercourse

Mr. Clay’s efforts, during his secretaryship, contributed
much in making Mr. Adams’s administration peculiarly American.
They afforded material aid in cherishing and strengthening those
principles, which would render the United States independent of foreign
nations――principles for which he contended with a zeal that nothing
could dampen, and which would not allow any compromise. In giving
Mr. Adams his vote, he was not mistaken in supposing that he would be
their able supporter too. In their adherence to these, they went hand
in hand. This was a source of most vexatious uneasiness to the enemies
of those principles. Hence the cause of their excessive hostility
towards the administration of Mr. Adams, for they believed it was
materially shaped by Mr. Clay. They little expected, and less designed,
that their opposition should thus pay him the highest possible
compliment――that of wielding a power scarcely inferior to that of the
executive himself. The enemies of Mr. Clay, therefore, became the
enemies of Mr. Adams, whose administration they determined to prostrate,
let the expense be what it might. ‘_It must be put DOWN_,’ said one of
general Jackson’s most prominent supporters, ‘_though as pure as the
angels at the right hand of God_.’ The foulest charges were preferred
against Mr. Adams and Mr. Clay, the mildest of which was, CORRUPTION.
Of the latter, in consequence of his having made some transfers,
in publishing the laws, from one printing establishment to another,
it was alleged, that he attempted to corrupt the press, which, with
a great outcry, was bruited from one end of the land to the other.
He was charged with having made the transfer from interested party
considerations, and an attempt was made to cause him to communicate to
congress what changes he had made, with his reasons. It failed, however,
on the ground that the house had no jurisdiction over the matter.
At the very time (or nearly) that his enemies in the house were thus
engaged in subjecting him to this gross charge, their coadjutors
in the senate, led on by Mr. Van Buren, were endeavoring to deprive
the National Intelligencer of the printing of that body. _Notable
consistency!_ Not an act of Mr. Adams, or Mr. Clay, which was not made
to pass through the traducing ordeal of their enemies’ malice, and
pronounced corrupt and ruinous in their tendency. The same acts might
be submitted to the examination of any impartial tribunal, who would
rise up from it, and declare them as nearly faultless as any human ones
could be; indeed, that of posterity, whose decisions are never reversed,
is fast rendering such a verdict. Many an eye now dims with tears, and
many a heart heaves with regret, at the recollection of Mr. Adams’s
administration. The political degeneracy and pollution of the present
day, were far from it. Economy, dignity, and liberality, were written
all over it, in such indelible characters, that the most intemperate
flood of opposition could not expunge them. It can be said of Mr. Adams,
that he never dismissed a public functionary solely on the ground
of party considerations, and in selecting these, he did not permit
himself to be governed by them. But, unexceptionable as was the course
pursued by him, detraction and calumny performed their utmost to
bring him into disrepute, and with too much success. Party prejudice
and sectional feelings were aroused and inflamed in all parts of
the country. The wants of each were catered for, without stint or
measure; coalitions, combinations, caucusses, and all the unnamed and
undescribed pharaphernalia of party manœuvring, were organized, drilled,
arrayed, and brought out, to be used by strong and willing hands, in
the most ignoble and base employment in which they could be engaged――in
crushing an administration without any regard to its merit or demerit.
The prime movers of the whole heterogeneous mass had decreed, that it
‘_must_ be put down,’ and its loud _ergo_ pealed up, ‘_it ought to be
put down_.’ Contradictory and paradoxical reasoning was employed, with
success equal to that of true, in different parts of the country. Their
creed was comprehensive enough to embrace all, how various soever their
names or tenets. From such an army political virtue and honesty fled
away and hid themselves, which, like the devouring locusts of Egypt,
passed over the whole land, blighting and destroying every green thing
in its political enclosures. Sometime previous to the close of the
administration, the opposition gained the ascendency in congress, which
greatly facilitated their operations, which resulted in the election
of their candidate, Andrew Jackson, to the presidential chair, in the
autumn of 1828.

The prevalence of truth is sure. It may be temporarily suppressed,
error may triumph over it, and it may seem to be lost, but its
disenthralment is just as certain, as the release of the earth by solar
heat from the mists that press upon its bosom. Error gravitates――its
nature is downwards; but truth soars――its own intrinsic buoyant power
bears it, sooner or later, to the surface of human observation. It
cannot perish; it is the ally of immortality, and will survive all
sublunary things, and be seen and admired ages after falsehood and all
his base companions shall have gone down to their dark dwelling-place.
This attribute of truth seems to have been overlooked or disregarded,
by those who, with a blind zeal and misguided patriotism, sought the
overthrow of an administration too good to escape the shafts of envy,
and dispensing more benefits than could be enumerated or appreciated by
them when thus engaged. Those who were most active in elevating general
Jackson to the presidency, displayed great skill in party tactics, and
a most liberal education in the schools of intrigue and detraction.
Experience had taught them, that a public functionary was most
vulnerable through the minds of his constituents; that if the lodgment
of a certain principle could be effected _there_, their work was done,
his ruin was accomplished. This was precisely the mode of warfare
pursued by the opponents of Mr. Adams and Mr. Clay. All their efforts
were directed to the single end, of instilling into the minds of the
people the belief, that these eminent statesmen, these great and good
men, _were vampyres upon their pockets_, shaping their measures so as
to drain them of their contents. The cry of extravagance drowned every
other, and that of economy, retrenchment, and reform, was iterated
and reiterated so often, that the truth of the first, and imperious
necessity of the others, soon became their permanent belief. It is
not surprising, that under the influence of this, they should rise,
and pluck them from their places, without stopping to inquire, whether
those who excited them to the committal of this act, did not do it for
the express purpose of thrusting their hands still deeper into their
pockets. The sequel seemed to furnish good grounds for such an opinion.
From the purses of the people, general Jackson’s administration
took about two dollars to Mr. Adams’s one, and Mr. Van Buren’s
about three. The necessity for diminishing the public expenditures,
suddenly ceased, upon their becoming safely installed in their places,
and their sympathy for the ‘_dear people_,’ in view of their pretended
robbery, which seemed to be so expansive before, immediately returned
to the narrow limits of their own bosoms. But truth, whose voice was
completely stifled in reference to the administration of Mr. Adams,
and the herculean labors of Mr. Clay, as connected with it, in the
political _melée_ of 1828, is fast justifying its measures, and causing
many to regret, who zealously sought, its overthrow, and fervently pray
for its return.

A few days after general Jackson’s inauguration into the presidential
chair, Mr. Clay prepared to return to the retirement and the social
delights of his home; where, at his leisure, he could review his public
acts, and devise new measures for benefiting his country. About the
time of his departure from Washington, his friends residing in that
city, as a testimonial of their regard for his private and public
character, gave him a dinner. In a speech, on that occasion, he alluded
to his public career, and the duties of citizenship, in the following
beautiful language. ‘Whether I shall ever hereafter take any part
in the public councils or not, depends upon circumstances beyond my
control. Holding the principle that a citizen, as long as a single
pulsation remains, is under an obligation to exert his utmost energies
in the service of his country, if necessary, whether in a public or
private station, my friends here and every where may rest assured, that,
in either condition, I shall stand erect, with a spirit unconquered,
whilst life endures ready to second their exertions in the cause of
liberty, the union, and the national prosperity.’

Of general Jackson he remarked, ‘that citizen has done me much
injustice. It was inflicted, as I must ever believe, for the double
purpose of gratifying private resentment, and promoting personal
ambition. When, during the late canvass, he came forward in the
public prints, under his proper name, with his charge against me, and
summoned before the public tribunal his friend and his _only_ witness,
(Mr. Buchanan,) to establish it, the anxious attention of the whole
American people was directed to the testimony which that witness might
render. He promptly obeyed the call, and testified to what he knew. He
_could_ say nothing, and he _said nothing_ which cast the ♦slightest
shade upon my honor or integrity. What he _did_ say was the reverse
of any implication of _me_. Then all just and impartial men, and all
who had faith in the magnanimity of my accuser, believed that he would
make a public acknowledgement of his error. How far this reasonable
expectation has been fulfilled, let his persevering and stubborn
silence attest. But my relations to that citizen, by a recent event,
are now changed. He is the chief magistrate of my country, invested
with large and extensive powers, the administration of which may
conduce to its prosperity, or occasion its adversity. Patriotism
enjoins as a duty, that while he is in that exalted station he should
be treated with decorum, and his official acts be judged of in a spirit
of candor.’

The rancor of his enemies had pursued Mr. Clay as though he had been
a devastating monster, laying waste the fair and fertile fields of his
country, instead of enriching them by his toils. It overstepped, not
only the bounds of prudence, but of propriety and decency. It followed
him to the sanctuary of his home, and violated that. In a letter
written in May, 1828, he thus speaks of their attempts to destroy
his pecuniary credit. ‘The variety in their modes of attack, and the
industry of my enemies, are remarkable, if not always commendable.
I observe that some of them about Lexington, have carefully searched
the records of Fayette, and extracted from them a formidable list of
mortgages, which are paraded as evidence of my bankruptcy. The fairness
of this proceeding, in my absence on arduous public service, and
without inquiry into the fact whether the mortgages be extinguished or
not, is submitted to my fellow citizens of Fayette. I do not consider,
that a man who honestly fulfils his pecuniary engagements, is entitled
to any special praise, or I would not observe, that I can confidently
appeal to all with whom I ever had pecuniary transactions, to bear
testimony to the fidelity with which I have discharged mine. I invite
the severest scrutiny into my conduct in that respect, and request a
comparison of it with that of any one of those who now assail me. I
never was sued in my life, for an uncontested debt; indeed, I have no
recollection at this time of having ever been sued for any ascertained
debt, contested or uncontested, and whether I was principal or endorser.
I am not free absolutely from debt. I am not rich. I never coveted
riches. But my estate would even now be estimated at not much less
than one hundred thousand dollars. Whatever it may be worth, it is a
gratification to me to know, that it is the produce of my own honest
labor, no part of it being hereditary, except one slave, who would
oblige me very much if he would accept his freedom. It is sufficient,
after paying all my debts, to leave my family above want, if I should
be separated from them. It is a matter, also, of consolation to me,
to know that this wanton exposure of my private affairs can do me no
pecuniary prejudice. My few creditors will not allow their confidence
in me to be shaken by it. It has, indeed, led to one incident, which
was at the same time a source of pleasure and pain. A friend lately
called on me, at the instance of another friend, and informed me that
they were apprehensive that my private affairs were embarrassed, and
that I allowed their embarrassment to prey upon my mind. He came,
therefore, with their authority, to tell me that they would contribute
any sum that I might want, to relieve me. The emotions which such a
proposition excited, can be conceived by honorable men. I felt most
happy to be able to undeceive them, and to decline their benevolent

Though Mr. Clay’s enemies were greatly gratified at his ejectment from
office, they were more disappointed and chagrined at the fortitude, and
humor, even, with which he bore it. They had prepared a rich feast of
enjoyment over his anticipated sorrow, on the occurrence of that event,
which was spoiled by him, in not complying with the conditions that
_would make it palatable_. Instead of being sad, he was merry. At the
time of his departure from Washington for Kentucky, the roads were
very bad, which induced him to send his private conveyance in advance,
and resort to the stage-coach. On one occasion, the roughness of them
caused him to take a seat beside the driver, which he occupied on
entering Uniontown, in Pennsylvania, at which his friends in that place
expressed great surprise, to which he replied, ‘gentlemen, although
I am with the OUTS, yet I can assure you that the INS behind me, have
much the worst of it.’ His health, which had become much enfeebled
by his arduous duties, improved rapidly during his journey home, and
the flow of his exuberant spirits more than kept pace with it. The
most kindly receptions greeted him at every stage of it; indeed, in
the expressions of regard for his character and services, there was
scarcely any cessation, from the time he left the seat of government
until he reached his home, to which he was welcomed by one of those
warm, spontaneous, and eloquent outbursts of Kentuckian feeling,
which, to be known, must be witnessed, for no description can do it
justice. Hardly had he disrobed himself of his travelling garments,
and become seated in his residence at Ashland, before he was importuned
to exchange it for one in congress, or in the legislature of Kentucky;
but ill health, and a desire for temporal repose, caused him to
decline. Scarcely a day passed away which did not bring to his abode
testimonials of regard and affection, from his friends in all parts
of the country. He was urged repeatedly to participate in their
hospitality, which had he complied with to the extent in which it was
proffered, the strength of a thousand men would have been requisite
to carry him uninjured through it. These invitations were prompted
by a consciousness of his worth, and a desire to gather his opinions
and sentiments, in relation to national policy. This desire was always
gratified, at those which he accepted. In May, 1829, he was honored
by a public dinner, served up at Fowler’s garden, at which about three
thousand sat down. His presence called forth the following toast:
‘our distinguished guest, friend, and neighbor, HENRY CLAY――with
increased proofs of his worth, we delight to renew the assurance of
our confidence in his patriotism, talents, and incorruptibility――may
health and happiness attend him in retirement, and a grateful nation do
justice to his virtues.’ After its announcement, he spoke for the space
of one hour and a half, with more than his usual eloquence and energy.
He reviewed somewhat minutely his public career, the administration of
Mr. Adams, and spoke in terms of deserved censure of the means resorted
to, by his enemies, to put him down. He animadverted severely upon
the course pursued by general Jackson, in removing faithful public
officers, and considered his conduct, in that respect, unjustifiable,
and as calculated to establish a dangerous precedent. His sentiments
concerning the principles which ought to govern public servants, are
worthy of all acceptance, and should be inscribed in letters of gold
on the phylacteries of all office-holders and office-seekers. He closed
by saying, ‘in the presence of my God, and of this assembled multitude,
I can and I will say, that I have honestly and faithfully served my
country, that I have never wronged it, and that, however unprepared I
lament that I am, to appear in the Divine presence on other accounts, I
invoke the stern justice of His judgment on my public conduct, without
the smallest apprehension of His displeasure.’

Mr. Clay never attempted concealment either of his sentiments or his
actions in relation to public matters; on the contrary, he invited
the most searching scrutiny, conscious that in the maintenance of the
former, and the performance of the latter, he was actuated by upright

In 1829–30 he visited various parts of Kentucky, loaded with favors
wherever he came; upholding those measures which were truly national,
and denouncing, without any reserve, those that were of an opposite
character. Of this description he found many connected with the
administration of general Jackson, neither did he allow himself to be
deterred from expressing his views freely in relation to them, from any
motives of a personal consideration. Mr. Clay was not the man to shrink
from the duty of directing the attention of the country to measures
whose tendency he believed was detrimental to its interests. He would
not hesitate to lift his warning voice, though it would be at the
expense of his hard-earned fame, when he saw means employing to jeopard
its safety. He visited New Orleans at the commencement of 1830, where,
if possible, the attentions bestowed upon him exceeded those which he
received from his own constituents. Although his visit was occasioned
by business of a private character, he was continually thronged by
the people, of all parties, tendering him the mede of honor due his
distinguished eminence. It was with difficulty he could resist their
warm importunity to accept a public dinner. He left for Natchez,
Mississippi, on the ninth of March, amid an immense concourse of people,
assembled to witness his departure. The levee, tops of steamboats, and
houses, were completely covered by them, who rent the air with their
enthusiastic cheering. As the steamer that bore him moved from the
pier, they were almost deafening, which, with the waving of banners
and handkerchiefs, and firing of cannon, made it appear more like the
departure of a mighty conqueror, than of a private citizen. At Natchez,
his arrival was anticipated, by the congregating of individuals from
all parts of Mississippi, comprising the elite of her distinguished
men, irrespective of partisanship, who thronged the wharf, waiting to
receive him. On the arrival of the boat, the rush into it was so great
as to excite alarm, and the multitude environing it was so large and
dense, that some time was consumed in making an opening through it.
Mr. Clay found it easier to accept an invitation to a public dinner,
than to resist the importunity with which it was tendered. The guests
were numerous. Says one who witnessed the assembly, ‘it was no partisan
gathering. The warmest political opponents, sat down face to face with
each other, united in one subject at least――the desire to do honor to
their distinguished guest――to one whose patriotic motives none of them
could doubt, however much they might differ from his principles. In
his remarks, he was interrupted more than once by the deep, involuntary
murmurs of applause, which burst forth around him. Every word which he
uttered, went down and rested upon the hearts of his auditors, like the
kind tones of some blessed visitant. It was a proud moment for Henry
Clay. The dark elements of faction sank down into quietude before him.
Men who had been arrayed for years in political contention, who had
hitherto met each other with the compressed lip and knitted brow of
hatred, gave back, on this occasion, the smiles of one another.

‘Mr. Clay commenced by an acknowledgment of his gratitude for the
honors bestowed upon him. “There is nothing in life,” said he, “half so
delightful to the heart, as to know that, notwithstanding the conflicts
that arise among men――the whirlwind and madness of party feeling――there
yet are times, as on the present occasion, when passion and prejudice
slumber――moments, when old differences cease from troubling, and when
all that is turbulent, and all that is distrustful, are sacrificed to
the generous and social dictates of humanity.”

‘He spoke of general Jackson. He spoke of his great battle. Darkly as
he had been traduced, deeply as he had been injured by that man, he yet
hesitated not to bestow upon him his full measure of patriotic encomium.
His feelings rose with the subject. His eye kindled. There was a moral
grandeur in his look; and all who saw it felt that it was the visible
manifestation of the triumph of his nobler feelings over the dark sense
of wrong.

‘At that moment I would have given my right hand, to have seen general
Jackson confronted before his magnanimous opponent――face to face with
the man whom he had so foully injured. Had he been there――under the
eye of that noble-hearted speaker――every word of commendation, every
generous acknowledgment of his services, would have fallen upon his
head like a rain of fire.’ In every town which he visited, the citizens
gathered round him, and wherever he turned, a hundred hands were
extended to clasp his own. Public feeling flowed after him as the tides
of the ocean follow the moving moon. Passing through Donaldsonville,
where the legislature of Louisiana was in session, he unexpectedly
entered the hall of the house of representatives, when that body,
including speaker, and members of both parties, simultaneously rose to
receive him. In the summer of 1830, business called him to Columbus,
the capital of Ohio. At the time, a celebration was had by the
mechanics of the place and vicinity, at which the following honorary
toast was given: ‘our inestimable guest, Henry Clay. An efficient
laborer in support of the industry of the country. _Farmers and
mechanics know how to appreciate his services_’――to which he responded,
in a speech which embraced allusions to his favorite theme, internal
improvements, in connection with the hostility of general Jackson to
them, as evinced in his veto of acts passed by congress, expressive of
its views of that system, and the established policy of the nation. He
vindicated their action, and proved its accordance with the provisions
of the constitution. The operation of the tariff he also considered,
and showed it salutary. In his concluding remarks he adverted to
his own circumstances. ‘Why,’ said he, ‘were the fires of unabated
persecution kindled around him? Why was the artillery of the press
incessantly levelled upon _him_? What had he done? The history of
his past life was before the people. If he had erred in any of his
endeavors to subserve the best interests of the public, he regretted it.
His conscience, at least, did not reproach him. And what was he _doing_
to draw upon him the maledictions of his countrymen? He was a private
citizen. He could exercise authority over none, nor had he any engine
of governmental patronage, to pervert and make subservient to purposes
of personal aggrandizement.’

At this meeting he exposed the turpitude of the odious doctrines of
nullification, which had begun to be agitated at the south.

On the seventeenth of December, 1829, Mr. Clay delivered an address
before the Colonization Society, of Kentucky, at Frankfort, in which
the principles and objects of that humane institution were ably and
eloquently supported. In it, he alluded pointedly to the subject of
slavery, surveyed the numerous train of evils consequent upon it, and
expressed his hearty desire to coöperate with any society which would
mitigate, lessen, or remove them. He lingered, with peculiar pleasure,
upon the success which had unexpectedly crowned the efforts of the
American Colonization Society, and declared his sincere conviction,
that it had most abundant encouragement to persevere and endeavor to
redouble its exertions. ‘We may boldly challenge the annals of human
nature,’ said he, ‘for the record of any human plan for the melioration
of the condition or the advancement of our race, which promises
more unmixed good, in comprehensive benevolence, than that of the
Colonization Society, if carried into full operation. Its benevolent
purposes are not confined to the limits of one continent――not to the
prosperity of a solitary race. They embrace the largest two portions of
the earth, with the peace and happiness of both descriptions of their
present inhabitants, and the countless millions of their posterity. The
colonists, reared in the bosom of this republic, with a knowledge of
the blessings which liberty imparts, although now unable to share them,
will carry a recollection of them to benighted Africa, and light up, in
time, her immense territory. And may we not indulge the hope, that, in
a period of time not surpassing in duration that of our own colonial
and national existence, we shall behold a confederation of republican
states on the western shores of Africa, with their congress, and their
annual legislatures, thundering forth in behalf of the rights of man,
and causing tyrants to tremble on their thrones!’

Mr. Clay regarded the society, if judiciously managed, competent to
diffuse the light and blessings of civilization and christianity, under
the guidance of Providence, through the entire vast regions of Africa;
saying, that it proposed ‘to send, not one or two pious members of
christianity, into a foreign land, among a different and perhaps a
suspicious race, of another complexion, but to transport annually, for
an indefinite number of years, thousands of efficient missionaries, of
the descendants of Africa itself, with the same interests, sympathies,
and constitutions of the natives, to communicate the benefits of our
holy religion, and of the arts of civilization. And this colony of
missionaries is to operate, not alone by preaching the words of truth
and revelation, which, however delightful to the ears of the faithful
and intelligent, are not always comprehended by untutored savages, but
also by works of occular demonstration. It will open the great forest,
it will build up cities, erect temples for christian worship, and thus
practically exhibit to the native sons of Africa, the beautiful moral
spectacle, and the superior advantages, of our religious and social
systems. In this unexaggerated view of the subject, the African colony,
compared with other missionary plans, presents the force and grandeur
of the noble steamer majestically ascending, and with ease subduing the
current of the Mississippi, in comparison with the feeble and tottering
canoe, moving slowly among the reeds which fringe its shores. It holds
up the image of the resistless power of the Mississippi itself, rushing
down from the summit of the Rocky mountains, and making its deep and
broad and rapid course through the heart of this continent, thousands
of miles, to the gulf of Mexico, in comparison with that of an obscure
rivulet, winding its undiscernable way through dark and dense forests
or luxuriant prairies, where it is quickly and forever lost.

‘Confiding in the approving judgment of Divine Providence, and
conscious of the purity and benevolence of our intentions, we may
fearlessly advance in our great work. And when we shall, as soon we
must, be translated from this into another existence, is the hope
presumptuous, that we shall then behold the common Father of the white
and the black, the Ruler of the universe, cast his all-seeing eye upon
civilized and regenerated Africa, its cultivated fields, its coasts
studded with numerous cities, and adorned with temples dedicated to
the religion of his redeeming Son, its far-famed Niger, and all its
great rivers, lined with flourishing villages, and navigated by that
wonderful power which American genius first applied; and that, after
dwelling with satisfaction upon the glorious spectacle, he will deign
to look with approbation upon us, his humble instruments, who have
contributed to produce it.’

Mr. Clay believed that the association would eventually abolish
_slavery_, whose existence how deeply he deplored, may be gathered from
the following language. ‘If I could be instrumental in eradicating this
deepest stain upon the character of our country, and removing all cause
of reproach on account of it, by foreign nations; if I could only be
instrumental in ridding of this foul blot that revered state that gave
me birth, or that not less beloved state which kindly adopted me as her
son, _I would not exchange the proud satisfaction which I should enjoy,
for the honor of all the triumphs ever decreed to the most successful

Mr. Clay was elected to the United States senate, by the legislature
of Kentucky, in the autumn of 1831. About the same time, in a national
convention, at Baltimore, he was nominated to the presidency, in
opposition to general Jackson.

Soon after taking his seat in the senate, the subject of the tariff
came up for consideration, to which he gave his most efficient aid.
The president avowed his hostility to protective measures, and in
consequence of his great influence in congress, there was great danger
that they would be frittered away, so as to impair very materially
their utility, or be entirely destroyed. The south began to murmur
their enmity towards them, which they believed operated against their
interests. They were violently opposed to the policy of imposing duties
on cotton fabrics, which were imported into the United States from
Great Britain, the principal consumer of her staple production. From
the attitude which she began to assume, in relation to the protective
system, just ground of alarm for its safety was apprehended, and
furnished an occasion sufficiently critical to call forth one of
Mr. Clay’s mightiest efforts. He endeavored to conciliate the south,
and cause, if possible, their views to harmonize with the north. On
the ninth of January, 1832, he introduced a resolution, providing that
the existing duties upon articles imported from foreign countries, and
not coming into competition with similar articles made or produced in
the United States, ought to be forthwith abolished, except the duties
on wines and silks, and that they ought to be reduced, and that the
committee on finance be instructed to report a bill accordingly. In
defence of this resolution, he made a speech, powerfully illustrating
the importance to the whole country of protective enactments. He was
followed by Mr. Hayne, of South Carolina, in reply. The discussion
was continued several days, during which, Mr. Clay made his brilliant
speech, in which he signally sustained the American system against
the British colonial system. Its delivery occupied several days, and
when he ceased, this masterly production of sound and argumentative
reasoning, logical deduction, and legitimate inference, presented to
the delighted view of the friends of that system, a mighty monument,
destined to perpetuate its practical utility, in connection with the
fame of the founder, while, to the enemies of that system, it presented
the impregnable bulwark of its defence. Mr. Clay’s speech, on this
occasion, may be justly regarded as a complete text-book, where every
thing requisite for the defence of protection and internal improvement
may be found.

On the thirteenth of March, Mr. Dickerson, from the committee
on manufactures, reported a bill, framed in accordance with the
suggestions of Mr. Clay’s resolution. This was opposed, on the ground
that it did not embrace the whole subject of the tariff, because the
duties on articles which were protected, were not reduced. Upon this
bill a sharp debate followed, which resulted in its being laid upon
the table. After being amended, and variously altered, it passed both
houses, and became a law in July, 1832.

This bill preserved all the essential features and characteristics
of the protective system unimpaired; too much, indeed, to please the
south. Violently opposed to any measures of protection which made the
slightest encroachment upon their sectional interests, they regarded
the provisions of this bill with the most bitter hatred. The leaven of
nullification, which was rapidly spreading itself at the south, gloated
over these, and derived new strength to go forth and disseminate its
invalidating dogmas. Its aspect grew more and more menacing every
day, until, at last, indubitable evidences of an organized opposition
to this bill began to appear. In this, South Carolina took the lead.
The legislature of that state ratified an ordinance, passed by a
state convention at Columbus, in November, 1832, declaring the tariff
acts unconstitutional, and utterly null and void. The most decided
determination was expressed, to disregard them, and not a few were
found insisting upon the right to do so. Measures were devised to
resist their enforcement, and munitions of war procured, and warlike
preparations made; the other southern states were invited to join her;
reports were put in circulation, that Great Britain was about to become
her fast and firm ally; and the lovers of liberty began to tremble
for the result. The anti-republicans began to chuckle over the fancied
prospect, that their predictions were about to be verified――that
our liberties, our institutions, and our union, were about to be
overwhelmed in utter destruction, by the all-devouring jaws of civil
war. President Jackson promptly issued his proclamation, denouncing the
doctrines of nullification, and declared that the entire military force
of the United States, if necessary, should be employed to put down all
attempts to oppose or resist any enactment of the general government.
He remonstrated with the people of South Carolina, and urged them to
submit to the laws of the United States. His wishes, however, were
not heeded. The governor (Mr. Hayne) immediately issued a counter
proclamation, setting forth the arbitrary measures which the federal
executive sought to subject them to, and counselling them to resist
these, even by force of arms, if necessary. The danger that impended
increased every hour, notwithstanding the bold and decided stand,
which the president took by the side of the laws of the union. In
this respect his conduct is entitled to all praise. But it was not
occasioned by any good or friendly feeling towards the protective
system, nor by any diminution of his hostility towards this. He gave
increasing evidence of his willingness to contribute to its destruction,
by yielding to the rebellious state all she desired, in abandoning
the principle of protection. This had been distinctly avowed, in the
report of the secretary of the treasury, recommending the reduction of
duties to a revenue standard, and on the twenty-seventh of December,
Mr. Verplanck, from the committee on ‘ways and means,’ reported a bill
which, in accordance with the recommendation of the secretary’s report,
proposed to reduce the duties on imported goods, to an average of about
fifteen per cent. upon the foreign valuation. This bill was designed
to take immediate effect, and to make a further reduction of duties,
on all protected articles, in March, 1834. Thus the administration came
over to the ground which the nullifiers desired it to occupy. After
the bill had been discussed about a week, the president transmitted a
message to congress, together with the abrogating enactments of South
Carolina, and recommended the course he deemed proper to be pursued in
relation to them. A bill to enforce the collection of the revenue, was
brought before the senate a few days subsequent, directing coercive
measures to be employed, in case of resistance. Matters seemed
fast coming to extremities. The disorganizers, though in a state of
readiness, took no decisive steps, but seemed to be looking for an
adjustment of the subject occasioning their disquietude, in a way
to suit their peculiar views. But the prospect that this would be
accomplished, grew every day fainter. At this critical juncture,
when no source of help was visible, when the political heavens were
continually gathering blackness, and the thunder of insurgency fell
with appalling plainness upon the ear, Mr. Clay stepped forth to
disperse the gloom, and clothe with the garments of peace, an almost
distracted people. He clearly saw, that, to heal the breach which had
been made, and which was continually widening, it was necessary to
make a partial retrocession from the vantage ground, which by toil
and strife he had gained, in relation to the American system. To yield
an inch of this, of such vital importance did he conceive it to be
to the country, was like allowing the sources of his own existence to
be annihilated, one by one. But the salvation of it depended, at this
crisis, on making this ♦retrograde movement, as well as the peace, and
perhaps life, of no inconsiderable portion of the people. Under these
circumstances, he did not hesitate as to the course he ought to pursue.
It seemed as though he had, some time previous, cast his solicitous
eyes over the whole ground; that he had foreseen while in embryo
the dark elements of faction and resistance, and nullification, and
foresaw that they would commingle, and ferment, and finally originate
just such an emergency, as that which reared its horrid front before
him. Something like _compromise_ had suggested itself to him, some
weeks previous, while spending a season of leisure with a relative in
Philadelphia. He then gave the subject considerable consideration, and
digested a plan suited to the extremity, which he knew would, sooner or
later, arrive. _It had come_, bringing in its train, remote though they
might be, consequences which no patriot, no well-wisher to his country,
could contemplate, without standing aghast. To avert these, Mr. Clay
deemed it not only desirable, but highly obligatory upon those who
were the recipients of the blessings of freedom. Having completed
his remedial plan, he spread it before the senate on the eleventh of
February, 1833, in the form of a _compromise_ bill. This was the result
of mature deliberation and much consultation, both with the friends and
enemies of protection. He thought it expedient to ascertain, not only
the manner of its reception, but of its operation. Many of those whom
he consulted did not approve of his plan. Among these was Mr. Webster.
With him Mr. Clay discussed the provisions thoroughly, and though
partially convinced of its utility, he did not yield it his entire
confidence. Mr. Webster’s opinion, carrying with it great weight,
tended to gather a pretty formidable opposition around him at the
north, while nullification at the south contributed its share. Mr.
Clay, therefore, found it necessary to advance with great caution; to
survey carefully every inch of ground he intended to occupy, previous
to setting foot upon it. Never, perhaps, was a bill brought before
congress under such peculiar circumstances, or when greater talent
and skill were needed. The south was willing to be conciliated, but
somewhat inclined to dictate terms. A hair-breadth deviation from the
line which her predilection designated, might prove fatal to his scheme,
and cause the gathering storm to pour its desolating strength upon the
land. As far as practicable, Mr. Clay ascertained the feelings of this
section in relation to it, and had several interviews with Mr. Calhoun,
and other influential members from the south. The proclamation of the
president had temporarily diverted their enmity from the system of
protection, towards him. To the summary and stern manner in which
general Jackson proposed, and even seemed anxious, to settle existing
difficulties, there was a great and growing repugnance at the north,
and which operated favorably in disposing the south to embrace any
plan that might be proposed, though it should not embody all the
peculiarities of their views.

Mr. Clayton, of Delaware, zealously coöperated with Mr. Clay,
incessantly exerting himself to propagate his views, and, in
consequence of his commanding influence, his efforts were crowned
with gratifying success. He was strongly attached to Mr. Calhoun, and
many other southern members, and would often express his admiration of
their distinguished talents and noble qualities, and a desire to see
them retained in the service of their and his country. ‘Noble fellows,
Clay! noble fellows!’ he would say. ‘We must save them, if possible;
it will not do to let general Jackson hang them; the country needs
them; _she cannot spare them yet_!’ Southern members generally took
sides with South Carolina, so far as to consult her wishes in selecting
such measures as would satisfy her. The principle of home valuation,
which Mr. Clay and his friends insisted upon incorporating with his
compromise bill, they opposed at first, but finally most of them agreed
to it, among whom was Mr. Calhoun. When the bill was taken up by the
senate, he, for the first time, signified his assent to that principle,
and paid a handsome tribute to the patriotism and motives of Mr. Clay.
He intimated, plainly, that Mr. Clay’s bill was calculated to heal the
wound which the confederacy had received, and expressed the strongest
anxiety that this would be accomplished without abandoning a tittle
of the constitutional right of protection. In a debate, which was
protracted several days, the enemies of the bill arrayed against
it all their power. Mr. Webster, with the mighty weapons which his
giant intellect was capable of forging, assaulted it with tremendous
vehemence. Its defeat was considered at one stage of the discussion
as certain. Said Mr. Forsyth, tauntingly, ‘_the tariff is at its last
gasp; no hellebore can cure it_.’ ‘It contains nothing but _protection_,
from beginning to end,’ said Mr. Smith, of Maryland, ‘_and therefore I
oppose it_.’

During the debate, a personal difficulty occurred between Mr.
Poindexter, of Mississippi, and Mr. Webster, which threatened to
lead to something serious. Mr. Clay, by his generous interference,
pacificated the parties, by bringing about a satisfactory explanation.

The compromise bill finally was adopted in the house, by a vote of
one hundred and twenty to eighty-four, and in the senate, by a vote
of twenty-nine to sixteen, and received the president’s signature,
in March, 1833. And thus the country once more breathed freely; the
good and benevolent, who had clad themselves in sackcloth, and, in a
posture of the deepest humiliation and grief, sat supplicating a kind
Providence to shield her, in this her hour of imminent peril, and guide
her safely through it, arose and poured out to Him the libations of
their gratitude. Neither did they forget the instrument which he had
deigned to employ in accomplishing her deliverance. Both friends and
foes acknowledged his agency in this. As in the settlement of the
Missouri question, so in this, he was hailed as the liberator of a
nation from the jaws of impending danger, and perhaps of ruin. The tide
of popular praise and profound regard set towards him from all parts
of it, like the streams of gravitation towards the centre of the earth.
Men of all parties contributed to swell this. Those who rarely spoke of
him, except in detracting terms, now joined heartily in the popular cry
of approval. President Tyler was heard to say, several years subsequent
to the passage of Mr. Clay’s bill, in view of his agency in carrying
it through congress, ‘in my deliberate opinion, there was but one man
who could have arrested the then course of things (the tendency of
nullification to dissolve the union), and that man was _Henry Clay_.
It rarely happens to the most gifted and talented and patriotic, to
record their names upon the page of history, in characters indelible
and enduring. But if to have rescued his country from civil war――if
to have preserved the constitution and union from hazard and total
wreck――constitute any ground for an immortal and undying name among
men, _then do I believe that he has won for himself that high renown_.
I speak what I do know, for I was an actor in the scenes of that
perilous period. When he rose in the senate chamber, and held in his
hand the olive branch of peace, I, who had not known what envy was
before, _envied him_. I was proud of him as my fellow countryman, and
still prouder that the _slashes of Hanover_, within the limit of my old
district, gave him birth.’

The above is a fair sample of the expressions of praise and regard,
for his eminent services rendered, in connection with introducing those
wise and sanative provisions which poured the balm of peace into the
lacerated hearts of an afflicted people. Probably they were never more
united in any one measure, than in that of expressing their gratitude
to Mr. Clay, for his successful interference. And well did he merit
it. The task which he performed was no easy one. It cost an amount of
mental labor which cannot be easily estimated. Many sleepless nights
were passed in exhausting thought, in revolving in his mind the subject,
in all its aspects and details, with an anxiety to devise some remedy
that would meet the exigencies of the case, that drank up the very
sources of his existence. It required the mightiest effort of his great
and varied powers, to prevent its strangulation at its inception. While
in the hands of the committee, its enemies endeavored to cause the
impression to be received, that the bill, as designed by Mr. Clay,
could not pass; that there was not the slightest chance of its success;
and several members of the committee were determined that it should not
be reported to the senate in any form, and were more than once on the
point of abandoning their places to secure this. ‘Gentlemen,’ Mr. Clay
would say, ‘this subject has been committed to us, and we must not
dismiss it in this manner; it is our duty to report it in some shape,
and it _shall_, at all events, _be reported_.’ It appeared subsequently,
from the testimony of Mr. Hugh L. White, on whom the duty of selecting
the committee devolved, that _general Jackson had, in person, urged
him to choose such members as were friendly to Mr. Verplanck’s
bill, and consequently hostile to Mr. Clay’s_. It is matter of great
surprise, that, under such circumstances, it should have passed at all,
except with the entire abandonment of protection. More than sleepless
vigilance was requisite, to bring it safely out from beneath the
uplifted arms of a powerful party, led on by the executive himself, and
place it on the statute book of the nation. Columbus hardly encountered
fiercer storms, or braved greater dangers, in _discovering_ America,
than Mr. Clay in originating, sustaining, and consummating, a measure
that resulted in the preservation of a great portion of it from falling
into the hands of the worst of all human enemies, _civil war_. Well did
he deserve, then, the meed of praise which its inhabitants unanimously
accorded to him. Most righteous was their decision, in relation to
his motives――that they were _unimpeachably pure_. In these days of
political degeneracy, it is refreshing to look back and suffer one’s
vision to rest upon that spot on which he planted his feet, and fought
his glorious, patriotic battle; their prints are still seen; they have
gathered greenness with the lapse of years, presaging that the floods
and storms of time will never obliterate or mar them.

We have before alluded to Mr. Clay’s indomitable adhesion to principle,
that no party or selfish consideration could induce him for a moment to
swerve from it. This led him to act for the good of his whole country,
and _never to act_, while a member of her councils, unless an occasion
when that was at stake arose. We have searched long, but in vain, for
evidence to the contrary. We have examined, with great care, his public
character, as spread out upon the records of the nation, and solemnly
declare our belief, that none, either expressed or implied, exists.
If, in relation to his public career, we were asked, ‘what is its most
prominent characteristic?’ we should unhesitatingly reply, _purity of
motive_. We believe, in reference to this, that he stands on a moral
eminence, high enough to command a view of the globe. So prominent does
this appear, the more it is examined, the conviction cannot be resisted,
that, in all his public action, of which his country was the object,
his desire to act right was stronger than that of life itself. Says one
of his personal friends, ‘on one occasion he did me the honor to send
for and consult with me, in reference to a step he was about to take.
After stating what he proposed, I suggested, whether there would not be
danger in it, whether such a course would not injure his own prospects,
as well as those of the whig party in general.’ His reply was, ‘I
did not send for you to ask what might be the effects of the proposed
movement on my prospects, BUT WHETHER IT IS RIGHT; _I would rather be
right than be president_.’ A noble sentiment! and would it were more
common among politicians.

The compromise act was intended to expire in 1842, to which time it
provided for a gradual reduction of duties, when twenty per centum
should be the rate until otherwise regulated by law.

Soon after the adjournment of congress, accompanied by a portion of
his family, Mr. Clay took a long-contemplated tour to the eastern
cities. This gave the people an opportunity of beholding the great and
successful champion of their rights, and in many instances of tendering
to him their thanks. His whole route was like the movement of some
mighty conqueror――almost one unbroken triumphal procession. He was
taken into the arms of popular favor, as soon as he stepped from the
threshold of his dwelling, and hardly suffered to alight, until they
had returned him thither.[1] He was escorted into all the principal
places through which he passed, with the highest possible respect.
At New York, every demonstration of gratitude and rejoicing welcomed
him. An immense throng of gentlemen on horseback, escorted him to his
lodgings. The governor’s room in the city hall, was appropriated to
his use, and was crowded by a constant succession of ♦visitors. All
parties seemed to vie with each other in devising and presenting the
most fitting testimonials of regard. Through the eastern states, his
reception was marked with every token of esteem; their inhabitants
rose up from their occupations, almost like one person, to do him
homage. For a season, their spindles, shuttles, and manufacturing
establishments, ceased operation, in honor of the presence of their
defender. Arrived at Boston, whose population had been anticipating and
preparing for his arrival, the enthusiasm which had been swelling and
increasing and accompanying his progress, was given back from Faneuil
hall and Bunker hill, in echoes that reverberated to the remotest
parts of the country. The young men of that city presented him a pair
of superb silver pitchers, weighing one hundred and fifty ounces;
committees waited on and addressed him; and invitations to public
festivals on his account were numerous. On his return, after visiting
Troy and Albany, his reception at New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore,
and other places, was, if possible, more enthusiastic than it was
when he passed through them on his way east. He was released from the
‘bondage’ of the people’s favor, in season for him to renew his efforts
in vindicating their privileges and their liberties.

The policy advocated by Mr. Clay in disposing of the public lands,
rendered him a fit subject for the continuance of that favor which
the people had lavished so unsparingly upon him, and a target for his
enemies to give fresh specimens of their skill in archery. The question
came up in this manner. Mr. Bibb, of Kentucky, on the twenty-second
of March, 1832, moved to reduce the price of public lands, and Mr.
Robinson, of Illinois, the propriety of ceding them to the several
states in which they were located. The administration party managed
to have this question referred (though with manifest impropriety) to
the committee on _manufactures_. This they did with the obvious intent
of perplexing Mr. Clay, who was a member of that committee. They knew
his prompt and decided manner; that he would not dismiss the question,
without taking some definite action. They knew, also, that local
prejudices and interests were so deeply involved in it, as to make its
consideration peculiarly difficult, and to bring down upon the agent of
its adjustment, the loud displeasure of that section, whose interests
must, in a measure, from its very nature, be sacrificed. Their only
motive was to impair his popularity with the east, if he suffered their
interest to be transferred to the west, and with the latter, if he
made provision for its maintenance. To a narrow-minded politician, this
subject would have presented a dilemma, but to Mr. Clay none at all.
He gave his enemies fresh and most overwhelming evidence, of the utter
fruitlessness of appealing to what scarcely existed within him――_to his
cupidity_. He would not deviate a hair from the path of rectitude, to
accept the highest gift which the nation could confer. Its reference
to the committee on manufactures he knew to be, and pronounced, highly
irregular, as well as improper, yet it had been made, and for one he
was resolved not to shrink from the duty of examining it. He therefore
took up the subject, and according to his notion of equity and justice
to all in any way interested in the disposal of the public domain,
framed his noted ‘land bill,’ of which the following is a synopsis.
It provided, that, after the thirty-first day of December, 1832,
twelve and a half per centum of the net proceeds of the sales of
the public lands within Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Alabama, Missouri,
and Mississippi, should be paid to them independent of what they
were entitled to according to the terms of their admission into the
confederacy. This was to be appropriated for purposes of internal
improvement and education, under the supervision of their several
legislatures. The remainder of the proceeds was to be distributed among
all the states in proportion to their representative population, for
similar purposes, and under similar control, or in liquidation of any
debt contracted in making internal improvement.

The act was to continue five years, except in case of war. Additional
provisions were to be made for any new state that might be admitted
during its continuance.

The minimum price of the lands was not to be increased, and not less
than eighty thousand dollars per annum to be applied in completing the
public surveys. Land offices were to be discontinued, where the net
proceeds of the sales in them should not be sufficient to defray the
expense of their continuance, and that certain designated quantities
of land should be granted to six of the new states, not to be sold at
a less than the minimum price of lands sold by the United States.

Such was the bill introduced by Mr. Clay, and great was the
astonishment of the administration party in view of its munificent
provisions, and that exemplary impartiality, which consulted the
interests of all sections of the country alike. Being a candidate
for the presidency, they had confidently expected that he would make
such a disposition of the question as to secure the support of all the
western states, or, at least, so manage as to make it bear favorably on
his election. Great, therefore, was their astonishment, in subjecting
his bill to their microscopic scrutiny, in not being able to find
the remotest reference to _self_, not the slightest looking towards
the presidency, and great was their disappointment also. They had
tried various schemes to destroy his popularity, without success, and,
thinking that he would reason on this subject as _they themselves_,
concluded that he would become entangled in their snare. They almost
began to chuckle over the anticipated cry of ‘bargain’ and ‘corruption,’
with which they should be able to fill the land, on the appearance of
his bill. Great was their disappointment, therefore, when his sterling
integrity, his purity of intention, appeared in their place.

On the twentieth of June, Mr. Clay’s land bill was taken up by the
senate. He exerted himself nobly in its defence, and was opposed by
Mr. Benton, who, together with other administration men, strenuously
supported the policy of reducing the price of a part of the public
lands, and of surrendering the remainder to the states in which they

Efforts were made to postpone and amend the bill, but it was so ably
enforced, and the objections to it so completely refuted, that it
passed the senate by a vote of twenty to eighteen, on the third of
July. The house, in regard to some of its provisions, disagreed, and
this circumstance enabled its enemies to postpone its consideration,
until December, next following, by a vote of ninety-one to eighty-eight.
At the next session it was taken up and passed, by votes of twenty-four
to twenty in the senate, and ninety-six to forty in the house, and sent
to the president for his signature. Had he returned it immediately,
even with his veto, it would have become a law, according to the
constitution, requiring a vote of two thirds; but, unfortunately for
the country, the president’s constitutional privilege of retaining
bills a designated length of time, did not expire until after the
adjournment of congress, which gave general Jackson an opportunity
of taking the business of legislation out of the hands of the people,
which he eagerly embraced――to trample this bill, as Mr. Benton
exultingly said, ‘under his big foot,’ although he knew it expressed
the obvious wishes of the people. He, therefore, kept the bill,
until the commencement of the next session, (fifth of December, 1833,)
when he returned it to the house, with his objections. He regarded
Mr. Clay’s proposition of giving a certain per centage of the sales
of the public lands to the states in which they were located, as an
‘indirect and undisguised violation of the pledge given by congress to
the states before a single cession was made, abrogating the condition
on which some of the states came into the union, and setting at nought
the terms of cession spread upon the face of every grant, under which
the title of that portion of the public lands are held by the federal
government.’ In close connection with his objection to surrendering
a _part_ of the public domain to the several states, as mentioned,
came his proposal to yield them the _whole_. To grant them a _part_,
would be unconstitutional; but to grant them the _whole_, would be
constitutional. This reasoning is perfectly _sui generis_; presenting
a singular specimen of _logic and consistency_ united. It behoved the
president to support his veto by some prop, but no person supposed
he would select such a crooked and frail one. The fact that he did,
shows how long and tedious must have been his wanderings through the
political forest, with his executive axe upon his shoulder, in search
of a straight and firm one. The truth of the whole matter probably is,
that the veto originated more from his personal hostility to Mr. Clay
himself, than from any valid constitutional objection to his land bill.
This view of the subject receives strong confirmation, by a reference
to his message of December fourth, 1832. In this, the president
_specifically recommended_ the basis of _just such a bill_ as that
introduced by Mr. Clay. _Stubborn facts_ justify us in saying, that
if the same bill, containing the same provisions, had been introduced
and advocated by Mr. Benton, or Mr. Buchanan, or indeed by any ardent
supporter of the administration, the veto never would have been
thought of. But it was presented by a hated hand; a hand, that, in the
estimation of the president, polluted every thing it touched, and he
indignantly spurned its contents to the dust; a hand respecting which
he was always ready to ask, ‘can any GOOD THING come out of it?’ There
is too much truth in the remark that has been made of him, both by his
friends and foes, thousands of times――‘_he would have every thing his
own way_.’

But, though defeated by the despotic will of one man, Mr. Clay was not,
and could not be, silenced by it. While he had strength to stand up in
the councils of his country, he resolved to stand firmly by the side
of her rights, and paralyze, if possible, the hand uplifted to infringe
them. Though not a participator in those scenes of blood and carnage,
in which her broad and beautiful fields were won, yet his sympathizing
heart too vividly portrayed the floods of tears, and treasure, and
anguish, which the eastern states poured out in perfecting their title
papers, to sit tamely down and see them defrauded of their interest
in these. The tombs of their heroes who fell in these struggles, would
cry aloud for vengeance, if he sealed his mouth, and hid himself, when
he saw the robber approaching. No! Henry Clay was not the man to act
thus; his country’s rights were _his_ rights, her wishes _his_ wishes,
and he would maintain the former, and consult the latter, at any cost.
The ‘big foot,’ therefore, of general Jackson, though it ruthlessly
‘trampled’ on his _work_, dared not ‘trample’ on HIM, and he vigorously
set about exposing the fallacy, and puerility, even, of the president’s
reasons for his veto. This he did in a report which he submitted to
the senate, from the committee on public lands, May second, 1834, with
special reference to the return of the land bill. Subsequently, from
time to time, during several years, efforts were made to wrest the
public domain from its rightful owners, which Mr. Clay successfully
resisted, and finally succeeded in placing it beyond the reach of those
who were bent upon its plunder, giving to each section of the country
its equitable share in it. His exertions in accomplishing this have
established a foundation for his fame to rest upon, as immovable as
the hills which they protected, and which shall endure as long as the
verdure which clothes them shall be an object of grateful contemplation.

In 1831–32, Mr. Van Buren’s nomination as minister to England came
before the senate for confirmation. Mr. Clay opposed it, on the ground
of that gentleman’s anti-republican conduct in giving, while secretary
of state, instructions to Mr. McLane. In these he not only manifested
a desire to attach unnecessary blame to the United States, in their
intercourse with Great Britain, but unjustly disparaged, in the eyes
of that power, the preceding administration. He stated, that its acts
had induced England to withhold from them certain privileges, which it
otherwise would have extended to them. On the objectionable portions
of these instructions, Mr. Clay animadverted with merited severity.
‘According to Mr. Van Buren,’ said he, ‘on our side _all was wrong_――on
the British side _all was right_. We brought forward nothing but claims
and pretensions; the British government asserted, on the other hand,
a clear and incontestible right. We erred, in too tenaciously and too
long insisting upon our pretensions, and not yielding at once to the
force of just demands. And Mr. McLane was commanded, to avail himself
of all the circumstances in his power to mitigate our offence, and to
dissuade the British government from allowing their feelings, justly
incurred by the past conduct of the party driven from power, to have
an adverse influence towards the American party now in power. Sir, was
that becoming language, from one independent nation to another? Was it
proper in the mouth of an American minister? Was it in conformity with
the high, unsullied, and dignified character of our previous diplomacy?
Was it not, on the contrary, the language of an humble vassal to
a proud and haughty lord? Was it not prostrating and degrading the
American eagle before the British lion?’

The nomination was rejected in the senate by the casting vote of Mr.
Calhoun, the vice president. Mr. Clay’s opposition to it was based upon
grounds purely national――on a desire to maintain the dignity and honor
of his country’s character. It was fair for him, and for every one, to
infer, that the spirit of cringing obsequiousness which Mr. Van Buren
evinced, in framing instructions for a foreign minister, would display
itself before the court of St. James, in acts as humiliating to her
feelings as derogatory to her honor; in a word, that he would take
the low attitude of the _parasite_, and not the erect position of the
high-minded representative of an independent and mighty nation. How
could Mr. Clay’s course have been otherwise? Viewed with the eye of
a partisan, it may be deemed impolitic; it may have contributed more
than any thing else to elevate Mr. Van Buren to the presidency, by
recommending him more strongly to the favor of his party, as the victim
of political persecution. Party politics, however, had nothing to
do in determining Mr. Clay’s action; this was not the result of the
consultations of any clique, nor the product of any party machinery; it
was the offspring of his prompt, spontaneous, and unqualified obedience
to his country’s mandate. He was never found grovelling among the dingy
kennels and filthy sewers of party cabal, seeking the performance of
some dirty job; for his country, his _whole country_, gave him too
much and too honorable employment to allow him any leisure for this,
had he been thus inclined. We have seen that it was his ardent desire
to develope the resources of his country to their greatest possible
extent, and to cause the tide of prosperity to flow unremittingly
into the depositaries of her treasures; and he possessed the abilities
requisite to accomplish both, if these could have been suitably
directed. Unfortunately, however, circumstances rendered it necessary
for them to be almost constantly employed in beating off those who were
determined to lay violent hands on her facilities and riches. Instead,
therefore, of erecting new political edifices, his time was incessantly
occupied in preventing her enemies from tearing down those that were
already established. These, he fought and belabored to the last, and
plucked from their ravenous jaws many fair portions of his country’s
possessions. But it needed more than human aid to overthrow their now
combined and embattled forces. We have reached the period rendered
memorable by their ruthless ravages, the darkest and most disgraceful
of our history――chronicling the vilest acts of those in power, and the
noblest deeds of those out of power. Hitherto, in tracing the public
career of Mr. Clay, our path has been, for the most part, smooth and
flowery; but now it is to become rugged and thorny, for we have arrived
at the border of the _great desert of our political annals_――a region
of ruin, covered with the black monuments of political depravity and
unprincipled faction――a region we would gladly avoid, did not our
path lead across it, which we enter reluctantly, and with feelings not
unlike those of the traveller who has journeyed through an enlightened
country, beautified by art, literature, and science, and is about
to pass into one destitute of the conveniences and necessaries of
civilization. As he pauses and turns to take a last look of the beauty
of the former, before he plunges into the gloom and dreariness of the
latter, so let us cast a glance at the bright region behind, before
entering the dismal one before us. The vision is cheered by a vast
country, basking in the sunshine of high prosperity, with its various
departments organized and governed with the most scrupulous fidelity,
and with strict regard for the interests of those for whom they were
established. No evils are seen to exist, except such as are incident
to the most wisely regulated human institutions. On all sides we behold
a population harmonious and happy, pursuing their different vocations
without clashing or defection, or rejoicing over the rewards of honest
and judicious industry. The great sources of their thrift, and most
conspicuous features of their country, are the broad, deep, and
crystalline streams of agriculture, commerce, currency, and domestic
manufactures, with its noble tributary, internal improvement. These
meander throughout its whole extent, deposit their sweet waters at
every man’s dwelling, and make the whole land vocal with innocent
mirth and pure enjoyment. Such was the condition of the country through
which we have just journeyed, and, had we leisure, would gladly linger
to enumerate more particularly the benefits and blessings which the
enriching influences of those magnificent streams generated; but
we must hasten to trace their progress in the country before us.
Previously, however, to commencing our cheerless march, let us, from
our lofty position, survey their appearance, after they enter its
lonely wilds and barrens. According to a universal and fundamental
law of nature, their magnitude should be greatly increased, but they
present an instance of its suspension, for some have dwindled to mere
rills, and some have entirely disappeared, while others, encountering
some unnatural impediments, have become dammed up, and inundated
immense tracts with their waters, which stagnate and pollute the
atmosphere with noxious vapors. The appearance of the country and
its inhabitants, is sickening to behold. The former, broken, uncouth,
and uncultivated, looks as though it were laboring under an attack of
delirium tremens. Among the latter, commotion, confusion, and disorder,
prevail. There is an abundance of action, but it is that of desperation
and excitement, but it is perfectly ♦beneficial. A noble few seem to be
struggling virtuously against a tide of ruin and excess; but the great
mass appear to be in the hot pursuit of the wildest schemes that human
imagination ever invented, trampling upon all order and restraint,
diffusing the wildest intoxication through every department of public
and private life, and making them the rendezvous of the worst evils
known or named among men. The causes of these singular phenomena, a
brief recital of facts, as connected with the subject of our memoir,
will explain; to gather which, we must enter the territory whose
condition we have been anticipating. The first that we notice is the
policy of general Jackson towards the bank of the United States――an
institution which he found in most prosperous circumstances, and
answering every expectation that could be reasonably entertained
in relation to such an establishment, and pronounced by the best
financiers sound and safe. Nevertheless, soon after entering upon his
official duties, he commenced his ‘humble efforts’ at improving its
condition, which, however, aimed at nothing more nor less than making
it subservient to party interests. Attempts were made to accomplish
this, which, however, proved utterly abortive; the president of the
bank replying to them, that its management should not be in any way
connected with politics, and that the position which it should maintain,
would be that of a _faithful and impartial friend_ to the government,
and not that of a party or government politician. Enticement proving
unsuccessful, resort was then had to threats, which, however, failed of
their effect. President Jackson, in his first message, commenced paving
the way for the destruction of the bank, by causing the impression to
be received that it was unsound, and that _the people_ questioned the
constitutionality and expediency of the law by which it was established.
In his second message he intimates the same, and makes such allusions
to the _veto power_ as to show that he designed to employ it, unless
his own peculiar views should be consulted in renewing the charter
of the bank. In his third message he takes similar ground in relation
to it, but says he ‘leaves the subject to the investigation of
the people and their representatives.’ This was promptly made, and
resulted in rechartering the bank, by a vote of one hundred and seven
to eighty-five in the house, which was as promptly vetoed by him.
In his veto message is the following remarkable passage. ‘_If the
executive had been called on to furnish the project of a national
bank, the duty would have been cheerfully performed._’

In the senate, Mr. Clay met the veto in a becoming manner, and
denounced its absurd doctrines in the most faithful manner. On this
occasion he gave a full _exposé_ of his views respecting it; proving
its spirit at variance with our institutions, and expressed himself
decidedly in favor of permanently limiting its exercise. The most
absurd of its dogmas related to expounding the constitution, which
declared that every public officer might interpret it as he pleased.
This called forth one of Mr. Clay’s most impetuous bursts of eloquence.
‘I conceive,’ said he, ‘with great deference, that the president has
mistaken the purport of the oath to support the constitution of the
United States. No one swears to support it as he understands it, but
to support it simply as it is in truth. All men are bound to obey the
laws――of which the constitution is supreme――but must they obey them as
they understand them, or as they are? If the obligation of obedience is
limited and controlled by the measure of information――in other words,
if the party is bound to obey the constitution only as he understands
it――what would be the consequence? There would be general disorder and
confusion throughout every branch of administration, from the highest
to the lowest offices――_universal nullification_.’

The insinuations and charges of the president led to a rigid
examination of the affairs of the bank, which showed its assets to
exceed its liabilities, by more than _forty millions of dollars_. So
perfectly safe did congress consider the public deposits in its vaults,
that the house passed a vote, of one hundred and nine to forty-six,
expressive of their belief of their safety. Not the shadow of evidence
was adduced, to give the slightest coloring of truth to the assumptions
of the president, or that there was any necessity for augmenting
the ‘_limited powers_’ (as he termed them) _of the secretary of the
treasury over the public money_. But general Jackson had declared
its continuance in the bank dangerous, and he seemed determined on
acting as though it were in fact the case. It was requisite for him
to have some justifying pretext for the arbitrary measure he designed
to adopt, in subverting that noble institution; hence, his hints of
the unconstitutionality and inexpediency of its existence, and the
unsafety of the people’s money in its vaults; but these were now merged
in direct attack. He succeeded in withdrawing from them the public
deposits――an act that spread panic, embarrassment, and unparalleled
distress, through the country, and was the great prolific cause of
causes, of all the evils with which it was subsequently visited. This
act, to all intents and purposes, was the _president’s_, although it
was performed through the instrumentality of Mr. Taney, the secretary
of the treasury, who executed the unconstitutional bidding of the
president, for decidedly refusing to execute which, two previous
secretaries, Messrs. McLane and Duane, he had removed. Indeed, in his
message of 1833, he distinctly avowed, that he urged the removal of the
public money.

Mr. Clay introduced resolutions to the senate, calling for a copy
of the documents in which the secretary pretended to find precedents,
justifying the course he had pursued, which passed the senate, and,
on the thirteenth of December, Mr. Taney placed in the hands of that
body, a communication, which contained, however, nothing satisfactory,
or contemplated by the resolutions. Mr. Clay declared the ground which
the secretary assumed, untenable, and, on the twenty-sixth of December,
introduced resolutions to the senate, pronouncing his reasons for
removing the deposits, as communicated to congress, unsatisfactory
and insufficient, and that the president, in dismissing the secretary
of the treasury because he would not, in violation of his sense of
duty, remove, as directed, the public money, had assumed the exercise
of a power over the treasury of the United States, not granted by the
constitution and laws, and dangerous to the liberties of the people.
In defence of these, Mr. Clay made one of his ablest speeches, and
forcibly demonstrated the unconstitutionality and illegality of the
procedure of the president and secretary. He foretold, with prophetic
accuracy, the fatal consequences which would flow from it, and depicted
in glowing colors the dangers that threatened the best interests of the
nation. These resolutions passed the senate, and, on the seventeenth
of April, 1833, the president communicated to the senate his celebrated
protest――a document perfectly characteristic of him, replete with
the most arrogant assumptions and declarations. This led to a warm
and protracted debate, in which Messrs. Clay, Poindexter, Sprague,
Frelinghuysen, and Southard, joined, whose powerful arguments drove
the president from the last vestige of the fallacious grounds he had
assumed, and scattered the doctrines of his protest to the winds.
The senate, by a vote of twenty-seven to sixteen, excluded it from
the journals, and maintained that the president possessed no right
to protest against any of its proceedings. During the discussion,
Mr. Leigh, of Virginia, paid Mr. Clay a rich and merited compliment,
for his services in allaying the spirit of nullification at the south,
in 1832 and 1833. ‘I cannot but remember,’ said he, ‘when all men
were trembling under the apprehension of civil war――trembling from
the conviction, that if such a contest should arise, let it terminate
how it might, it would put our present institutions in jeopardy, and
end either in consolidation or disunion; for I am persuaded that the
first drop of blood which shall be shed in a civil strife between the
federal government and any state, will flow from an irremediable wound,
that none may ever hope to see healed. I cannot but remember, that
the president, though ♦wielding such a vast power and influence, never
contributed the least aid to bring about the compromise that saved
us from the evils which all men, I believe, and I, certainly, so much
dreaded. The men are not present to whom we are chiefly indebted for
that compromise; and I am glad they are absent, since it enables me
to speak of their conduct, as I feel I might not without, from a sense
of delicacy. I raise my humble voice in gratitude for that service, to
_Henry Clay_ of the senate, and _Robert P. Letcher_, of the house of

At the time of introducing resolutions pronouncing secretary Taney’s
reasons insufficient, Mr. Clay took occasion to refute an assertion
which a prominent person had made in relation to his (Mr. Clay’s)
connection with the United States bank, which intimated that it was
dishonorable. He declared that he did not owe the bank, nor any of its
branches, a cent; that he had never received a gratuity from it, in
any form; that he had acted as counsel, and transacted a vast amount
of business for it, in Ohio, and received only the customary fees; and
that, in consequence of endorsing for a friend, he had become indebted
to the bank, to a considerable amount, but that, by establishing a
system of rigid economy, he had entirely liquidated it.

Immediately after the passage of the resolutions excluding the protest,
Mr. Clay introduced others, providing for the restoration of the
deposits, and reiterating the insufficiency of the secretary’s reasons
for removing them, and remarked, that whatever might be the fate of the
resolutions at the other end of the capitol, or in any other building,
that consideration ought not to influence, in any degree, their action.
They passed the senate, but, as had been expected, were laid on the
table in the house.

During the celebrated session, of 1833–34, known as the _panic
session_, Mr. Clay performed an amount of labor seldom equalled.
He let no suitable occasion pass, without opposing the despotic
proceedings of the president, and raising his warning voice against
his suicidal policy. The distress caused by the removal of the deposits,
and consequent curtailment of the issues of the United States bank,
called forth memorials from the people, which poured into congress
continually, denouncing the president’s financial experiment, and
calling for relief. Many of these were presented by Mr. Clay, who
generally accompanied them by a brief speech. One, which he made in
presenting a memorial from Kentucky, and one from Troy, contains an
accurate and faithful picture of the condition of the country at that
period. The evils of the ‘pet bank system,’ soon began to develope
themselves. On one occasion, in alluding to it, Mr. Clay remarked
as follows. ‘The idea of uniting thirty or forty local banks for
the establishment and security of an equal currency, could never be
realized. As well might the crew of a national vessel be put on board
thirty or forty bark canoes, tied together by a grape vine, and sent
out upon the troubled ocean, while the billows were rising mountains
high, and the tempest was exhausting its rage on the foaming elements,
in the hope that they might weather the storm, and reach their distant
destination in safety. The people would be contented by no such fleet
of bark canoes, with admiral Taney in their command. They would be
heard again calling out for old Ironsides, which had never failed them
in the hour of trial, whether amidst the ocean storm, or in the hour of

The session terminated the last of June, when Mr. Clay set out for
Kentucky. While travelling in the stage-coach from Charlestown to
Winchester, Virginia, he narrowly escaped death, by its upsetting,
a young gentleman being instantly killed by his side.

In 1834–35, the subject of French spoliations came before congress,
in considering which, Mr. Clay rendered valuable services. A treaty
had been concluded with France, stipulating for indemnification,
the first instalment of which was not promptly paid, whereupon the
president, with injudicious precipitancy, recommended the passage of
a law authorizing reprisals upon French property, unless at the next
session of the French chamber provision should be made for its payment.
The tendency of this recommendation was most deleterious upon our
commercial interests. The subject was referred to the committee on
foreign relations, at the head of which the senate had placed Mr. Clay.
On the sixth of January, 1835, he read a lengthy and most able report,
which detailed, with great minuteness and perspicuity, the facts
connected with the subject of the spoliations, which was received
with great applause, and twenty thousand copies printed and circulated
through the country, which soon restored commercial confidence. The
doctrines of the report were such as commended themselves to every
patriotic heart――simple, just, exacting to the last tithe our demands
on France, but yet deprecating rashness in obtaining them. The
committee did not doubt the power of the United States to enforce
payment, but deemed it inexpedient to exercise it, until other
means had been exhausted. They coincided with the president in a
determination to have the treaty fulfilled, but desired to avoid too
great haste. They concluded by recommending the senate to adopt a
resolution, declaring it ‘inexpedient to pass, at this time, any law
vesting in the president authority for making reprisals upon French
property, in the contingency of provision not being made for paying
to the United States the indemnity stipulated by the treaty of 1831,
during the present session of the French chambers.’

On the fourteenth of January, in accordance with previous
arrangement, Mr. Clay called for the consideration of the report and
its accompanying resolution. It being expected that he would address
the senate, the members of the house generally left their seats to
listen to him, nor were they disappointed; for he spoke nearly an
hour, in strains of eloquence that thrilled the hearts of all who
listened to him. After being slightly modified, the resolution passed
the senate unanimously, and thus, mainly through the efforts of Mr.
Clay, a hostile collision with France was averted, and that pacific
intercourse which had previously existed between her and the United
States reëstablished, and the consummation of the treaty greatly
accelerated. As he justly deserved, his country awarded him sincere
praise, for his magnanimous course in achieving this.

Soon after the president’s recommendation of reprisals, the French
minister was recalled from Washington, and passports presented to our
minister at Paris, by the order of Louis Philippe, the French king,
in anticipation of a rupture with the United States. In consequence
of these proceedings, Mr. Clay, near the close of the session, made
a short report from the committee on foreign relations, recommending
that the senate adhere to the resolution previously adopted, await
the result of another appeal to the French chambers, and hold
itself in readiness for whatever exigency might arise. The advice
of the committee was adopted by the senate, and thus terminated the
consideration of the subject.

On the fourth of February, 1835, an occasion occurred favorable for
the exercise of Mr. Clay’s philanthropic feelings, which he promptly
embraced. He had received a memorial from certain Indians of the
Cherokee tribe, setting forth their condition, grievances, wants, and
rigid and cruel policy pursued towards them by the state of Georgia.
A portion desired to remain where they were, and a portion to remove
beyond the Mississippi. In presenting their petition, Mr. Clay made
remarks which came burning with pathos and eloquence from his inmost
soul. He manifested the deepest feeling, as he dwelt upon the story of
their wrongs, and their downtrodden state. This he represented as worse
than that of the slave, for his master cared for and fed him, ‘but what
human being,’ said he, ‘is there, to care for the unfortunate Indian?’
Mr. Clay alluded to the numerous solemn treaties, in which the United
States pledged their faith towards the red man, to allow him the
unmolested occupancy of his hunting grounds. He was much affected,
and many of his audience were bathed in tears. Mr. Clay’s sympathetic
feelings flowed forth unbidden, and unchecked by selfish considerations,
whenever he beheld suffering humanity, and no class have participated
more largely in them than the poor, friendless aborigines. He
invariably advocated their claims, and a full redress of their
grievances. The presence of a Cherokee chief and a female of the tribe
greatly enhanced the interest of the occasion, who seemed to hang upon
the lips of the benevolent speaker, and drink in every word as though
it had been water to their thirsty souls. In conclusion, Mr. Clay
submitted a resolution, directing the committee on the judiciary to
inquire into the expediency of making further provision, by law, to
enable Indian tribes to whom lands have been secured by treaty, to
defend and maintain their rights to such lands, in the courts of the
United States. Also, a resolution directing the committee on Indian
affairs, to inquire into the expediency of setting apart a district
of country west of the Mississippi, for such of the Cherokee nations
as were disposed to emigrate, and for securing in perpetuity their
peaceful enjoyment thereof, to themselves and their descendants.

A bill was reported to the senate, abating executive patronage, which
Mr. Clay supported by a speech, on the eighteenth of February, 1835,
embodying an accurate account of the multifarious evils resulting from
the selfish and arbitrary course pursued by the chief magistrate――evils
which no lover of his country and her liberties could contemplate
but with apprehensions of terror. He also spoke in favor of making an
appropriation for continuing the construction of the Cumberland road,
and against surrendering it to the control of the states through which
it passed.

During the session of 1835–6, a further consideration of the subject
of French spoliations was had. Mr. Clay, being again placed at the
head of the committee on foreign relations, on the eleventh of January,
1836, introduced a resolution to the senate, calling on the president
for information relative to our affairs with France. Three weeks
subsequently, he introduced another, calling for the _exposé_ which
accompanied the French bill of indemnity, for certain notes which
passed between the Duc de Broglie, and our _chargé_, Mr. Barton, and
those between our minister, Mr. Livingston, and the French minister
of foreign affairs. With some modifications, these resolutions were

On the announcement of the president, February eighth, 1836, that
Great Britain had offered her mediation between the United States and
France, Mr. Clay took occasion to remark that he could not withhold
the expressions of his congratulations to the senate, for the agency
it had in producing the happy termination of our difficulties with
France. If the senate had not, by its unanimous vote of last September,
declared that it was inexpedient to adopt any legislative action upon
the subject of our relations with France, if it had yielded to the
recommendations of the executive, in ordering reprisals against that
power, it could not be doubted but that war would have existed, at that
moment, in its most serious state.

On the fourteenth of April, Mr. Clay’s land bill was taken up in the
senate, and discussed at length, for several days, during which he ably
and faithfully defended it. On the twenty-sixth, he made a speech in
its behalf, which was not far behind his most brilliant efforts. In
reference to it says the National Intelligencer, ‘we thought, after
hearing the able and comprehensive arguments of Messrs. Ewing, Southard,
and White, in favor of this beneficent measure, that the subject was
exhausted; that, at any rate, but little new could be urged in its
defence. Mr. Clay, however, in one of the most luminous and forcible
arguments which we have ever heard him deliver, placed the subject in
new lights, and gave to it new claims to favor. The whole train of his
reasoning appeared to us a series of demonstrations.’

By a vote of twenty-five to twenty, it passed the senate, May fourth,
1836, in the same form, substantially, as that vetoed by general
Jackson; but in the house his influence was too powerful to admit of
its passage there at that time.

On the right of petition, Mr. Clay stated his views, which supported
the belief that the servants of the people ought to examine, deliberate,
and decide, either to grant or refuse the prayer of a petition, giving
the reasons for such decision; and that such was the best mode of
putting an end to the agitation of the public on the subject. The right
of congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, he thought,
existed, but seemed inclined to question the expediency of exercising
it, under the circumstances then existing.

The condition of the deposit banks was made the subject of a report
by the secretary of the treasury, on the seventeenth of March, 1836,
when Mr. Clay demonstrated the insecurity of the public monies in their
keeping, and foretold, with astonishing accuracy, the crisis which in
1837 occurred.

The recognition of the independence of Texas, was effected by the
exertions of Mr. Clay, on ascertaining that it had a civil government
in successful operation. Up to the close of the session, (July fourth,
1836,) Mr. Clay’s vigilance and activity in the service of his country
did not abate in the least. The fortification bill, reduction of duties
on articles not coming in collision with the manufacturing interests,
and various other questions of national importance, engaged his

On returning to Kentucky, a dinner was tendered him, by the citizens of
Woodford county, at which he reviewed, in a masterly manner, the doings
of the administration, and expressed his determination to withdraw from
public life, and even went so far as to declare his wish that the state
would look for some other individual to fill the station then occupied
by him, but which would soon be vacant by the expiration of his term.

While surveying his cattle, in the autumn of 1836, he narrowly
escaped death, by a furious bull, which rushed towards him, plunging
his horns into the horse on which he was seated, killing him suddenly,
and throwing Mr. Clay several feet. He, however, escaped with a slight

In 1836, Mr. Clay accepted the appointment of president of the American
Colonization Society, in the place of ex-president Madison, deceased.

Being strongly importuned from a variety of sources, Mr. Clay
consented to become a candidate for the senatorship again, and was
reëlected. Immediately after the convening of congress, he once more
brought forward his land bill. After being read twice, it was referred
to the appropriate committee, at the head of which was Mr. Walker, of
Mississippi, who said, that he had been instructed by it to move the
indefinite postponement of the bill, whenever it should come up for
consideration. A few days after, he introduced his own bill, proposing
to restrict the sales of lands to actual settlers. On the ninth of
February, 1837, Mr. Calhoun introduced _his_ bill, which ostensibly
sold, but in reality gave to the new states, the public lands. This
plan was vigorously denounced by Mr. Clay, who expressed himself
opposed to all schemes of disposing of the national domain which
would deprive the old states of their rightful interest in it, and
that, while he had strength to stand and speak, he would employ it in
protesting against their adoption. He implored the senate not to appeal
to the cupidity of the new states from party inducements, and exhorted
a faithful adhesion to equity and justice in apportioning the public

On a bill, originating with the committee on finance, which contained
provisions conflicting with the compromise act, Mr. Clay spoke at
considerable length; also on a resolution introduced by Mr. Ewing,
rescinding the specie circular, which required all payments for public
lands to be in specie.

On the sixteenth of January, Mr. Clay discussed the question of
_expunging_ from the records of the senate, for 1834, his resolution
censuring general Jackson for removing the deposits unconstitutionally;
Mr. Benton having introduced a resolution requiring its erasure. In his
speech, Mr. Clay so blended indignant invective, sarcasm, scorn, humor,
and argument, as to make it one of the most withering rebukes ever
administered. ‘What patriotic purpose,’ said he, ‘is to be accomplished
by this expunging resolution? Can you make that not to be, which has
been? Can you eradicate from memory, and from history, the fact, that
in March, 1834, a majority of the senate of the United States passed
the resolution which excites your enmity? Is it your vain and wicked
object to arrogate to yourself that power of annihilating the past,
which has been denied to omnipotence itself? Do you intend to thrust
your hands into our hearts, and to pluck out the deeply rooted
convictions which are there? Or is it your design merely to stigmatize
us? You cannot stigmatize us.

            ‘Ne’er yet did base dishonor blur our name.’

‘Standing securely upon our conscious rectitude, and bearing aloft
the shield of the constitution of our country, your puny efforts are
impotent, and we defy all your power. Put the majority of 1834 in one
scale, and that by which this expunging resolution is to be carried in
the other, and let truth and justice in heaven above and on earth below,
and liberty and patriotism, decide the preponderance.

‘What patriotic purpose is to be accomplished by this expunging
resolution? Is it to appease the wrath, and heal the wounded pride,
of the chief magistrate? If he be really the hero that his friends
represent him, he must despise all mean condescension, all grovelling
sycophancy, all self-degradation and self-abasement. He would
reject with scorn and contempt, as unworthy of his fame, your _black
scratches_ and _your baby lines_, in the fair records of his country.’

The expunging resolution, however, passed, and thus the just resolution
of Mr. Clay was stricken from the national records, but not from the
_record of memory_; there will it live until her functions cease,
the memento of a patriotic purpose to place the signet of a nation’s
displeasure upon as unprincipled an act as any ruler of that nation
ever perpetrated.

In the autumn of 1836, the presidential election took place,
which resulted in elevating Mr. Van Buren to the chair of the
chief magistracy, by one hundred and seventy of the two hundred and
ninety-four electoral votes. At the time he entered upon the discharge
of his official duties, the situation of the country was deplorable
in the extreme. She was reaping the bitter fruits, which Mr. Clay had
again and again predicted general Jackson would bring back from his
experimental crusade and thrust down her throat. From Maine to Florida,
her population were eating them, and gnashing their teeth with rage,
when they contrasted their present lamentable condition, with what
it was during the halcyon and equitable administration of Mr. Adams.
Then, there was every thing to admire, and nothing to deprecate; now,
there was nothing to admire and every thing to deprecate; then, the
most devoted patriot, as he cast his eyes over his country, discovered
abundant evidence of health, and the existence of few evils, and those
medicable, or, if not, easily patible; now, wounds and bruises and
putrescence, disfiguring it, he beheld at every stage of his survey,
and ills of untold magnitude and enormity, for which no remedy could be
devised. But there is no necessity for specification; it is sufficient
to say, that when general Jackson took up the reins of government, he
found the country prosperous and happy, and that when he laid them down,
its _condition was just the reverse_. For every good which he found,
its opposite evil had been substituted; for solvency, insolvency;
for confidence, suspicion; for credit, discredit; for a sound and
safe currency, one, if possible, worse than unsound and unsafe;
for honesty, dishonesty; for purity, corruption; for justice,
injustice; for frankness and candor, intrigue and duplicity; for order,
disorder; for quiet, turmoil; for fidelity, infidelity; for enterprise,
indolence; for wealth, poverty; for patient industry, wild speculation;
for republican simplicity, haughty aristocracy; for wisdom, folly;
for health, disease; for happiness, misery; for hope, despair; and
for life, death. This substitution, Mr. Clay clearly foresaw would be
made; he predicted it, and forewarned the country of it. Such was the
condition of the country, when Mr. Van Buren attempted to ‘walk in the
footsteps of his illustrious predecessor.’ Soon after his inauguration,
he issued his proclamation, ordering an extra session of congress,
to commence the first Monday in September. Pursuant to this, congress
met to prescribe some mode of relief. In his message, the president
recommended the _sub-treasury system_ for the deposit, transfer, and
disbursement of the public revenue. This was the engrossing topic of
the session, and which Mr. Clay combated and denounced unsparingly.
He detected in it, and lucidly exposed, _that_ which was calculated,
not only to perpetuate the excesses and abuses under which the land
was then groaning, but to superinduce fresh ones. He saw in it the
grand link of that chain, destined to bind the resources and patronage
of the government to the _car of party_, which for eight long years
Mr. Van Buren’s predecessor had been so busily engaged in forging.
Mr. Clay’s speech on this occasion is an inimitable specimen of close
argumentative reasoning. After exposing the defects, absurdities, and
danger of the sub-treasury scheme, he declared his decided conviction,
that the only practicable measure for restoring a sound, safe, and
uniform currency to the United States, was a properly organized United
States bank, but that it would be unwise to propose such an institution,
until the conviction of its necessity should become permanently
impressed upon the minds of the people. The sub-treasury bill passed
the senate by a vote of twenty-five to twenty, but in the house was
laid on the table by a vote of one hundred and twenty to one hundred
and seven.

Petitions for the erection of a national bank poured into congress
incessantly, quite too fast to please the administration, which began
to tremble for the safety of its darling projects. Mr. Wright, from the
committee on finance, moved that the prayer of the memorialists ought
not to be granted. Mr. Clay said, if the honorable senator persisted
in his opposition, he should feel constrained to move to strike out
all after _resolved_, and substitute ‘that it will be expedient to
establish a bank of the United States, whenever it shall be manifest,
that a clear majority of the people of the United States desire such
an institution.’

On the nineteenth of February, 1838, Mr. Clay once more addressed
the senate in opposition to the sub-treasury plan, in one of the
longest speeches he ever delivered, and made a complete _exposé_ of the
ulterior intentions of the present and previous administrations, which
were, to subvert the whole banking system, and build upon its ruins a
mighty government, treasury bank, to be mainly organized and controlled
by the executive department.

During the session, Mr. Clay, in presenting a petition for the
establishment of a national bank, communicated some of his own views
in relation to such an institution. He desired, first, that its capital
should not be enormously large――about fifty millions of dollars――and
its stock divided between the general government, the states, and
individual subscribers; secondly, that in its organization, reference
should be had to public and private control, public and private
interests, and to the exclusion of foreign influence; thirdly, that
a portion of its capital should be set apart, and placed in permanent
security, adequate to meet any contingency that might arise in
connection with the issues of the bank; fourthly, perfect publicity
in relation to all its affairs; fifthly, that its dividends should be
limited to a certain per centum; sixthly, a prospective reduction in
the rate of interest to six, and, if practicable, to five per centum;
seventhly, that there should be a restriction upon the premium demanded
upon post notes and checks used for remittance, to about one and a
half per centum as the maximum between the most remote points of the
union, thereby regulating domestic exchanges; eighthly, that effective
provisions should be made against executive interference with the bank,
and of it with the elections of the country. Such a public banking
institution Mr. Clay advocated, from the conviction that it would
perform every thing requisite in furnishing a good currency. The
question of its constitutionality, he considered as satisfactorily
settled by the fact, that the people during forty years had cherished
the bank, that it had been approved by Washington, the father of his
country, by Madison, the father of the constitution, and by Marshall,
the father of the judiciary.

The subject of abolition was introduced into the senate, which
Mr. Clay approached, and freely discussed, although urged to avoid
it by his friends. He considered it, as it might be expected he would,
in the true spirit of philanthropy, benevolence, and patriotism. His
sentiments were conceived and uttered in such a noble, liberal, and
magnanimous manner, as to elicit expressions of approbation and of
commendation even from both anti and pro slavery men. Mr. Calhoun
admitted the correctness of his sentiments, and the entire security
which their adoption would promise to the union. As a matter in course,
the enemies of Mr. Clay strove to cause the impression to be received,
that, in his thus advocating the right of petition, he was actuated by
motives of a personal nature, by a desire to render himself popular
with abolitionists. His advocacy of this right _did_ render him popular,
not only with that class of individuals, but with all who revere and
love the immutable and eternal principles of truth and justice, and
rejoice to see the outpourings of sympathy towards a worthy object.

During the summer of 1839, in his return from a northeastern tour,
he visited the city of New York, where his reception was as gratifying
to his feelings as it was spontaneous and brilliant on the part of
those who gave it. The whole city joined in it, and it may well be
questioned, whether any individual ever entered the city, attended
by such enthusiastic tokens of popular favor. He approached it in
the steamer James Madison, at the foot of Hammond street, Greenwich,
early in the afternoon. As he stepped on the wharf, the air was rent
by the welcoming acclamations of an immense multitude assembled there,
which were taken up and continued by similar collections of people
lining his whole route (a distance of three miles) to the Astor House,
where lodgings had been prepared for him. He sat in an open barouche,
preceded by a band of music, and followed by an immense concourse of
citizens in carriages. The streets through which he passed were crowded
with one dense mass of _people_, and the houses were covered with them.
At all the principal places in his route, bands of music were stationed,
that, as he approached, sent forth their spirit-stirring peals, which,
with the vociferous shouts of thousands on thousands, and waving of
handkerchiefs, flags, and banners, rendered his march like that of an
oriental pageant. When he reached the Park, the shouting was almost
deafening, which went up like the roar of the sea. The most interesting
feature of this grand reception, was its _spontaneousness_. It was
not ‘_got up_,’ but it was the unprovided for, the unsolicited, and
voluntary _act of the people_, tendering to their best, their most
devoted friend, their sincere and heart-felt greetings and gratulations.
Mr. Clay had greatly endeared himself to all capable of appreciating
lofty and disinterested action, who, as Mr. Van Buren’s presidential
term drew to a close, began to be mentioned continually as the most
suitable whig candidate for president. On the fourth of December, 1839,
the democratic whig convention met at Harrisburgh to nominate one. Not
a doubt was entertained that Mr. Clay was the man of their choice, when
they assembled, and that his selection would have been the result of
their assembling, had not the most dishonorable means been employed to
defeat it.

On the fifth of December, the convention was organized, Hon. James
Barbour being appointed president. The committee appointed to report
a candidate, after a session of two days, during which the intriguers
were busy in circulating their falsehoods, and reading letters
pretended to have been received from distinguished individuals in
different parts of the country, and which were filled with false
assertions of Mr. Clay’s unpopularity, finally decided upon William
Henry Harrison. Their decision was received by those of Mr. Clay’s
friends who stood by him to the last, without a murmur, although with
melancholy looks, and silent disappointment. Mr. Banks, one of the
delegation from Kentucky, was the first to rise and express their
cordial concurrence In the nomination made. Mr. Preston expressed
himself similarly, and desired that a letter from Mr. Clay, which
had been in the possession of a delegate several days, should be read
to the convention, and which had not been previously shown, lest the
motives for its exhibition should have been misconstrued. It was read
by colonel Coombs, of Kentucky. In this, Mr. Clay says, ‘with a just
and proper sense of the high honor of being called to the office of
president of the United States, by a great, free, and enlightened
people, and profoundly grateful to those of my fellow citizens who
are desirous to see me placed in that exalted and responsible station,
I must nevertheless say, in entire truth and sincerity, that, if
the deliberations of the convention shall lead them to the choice
of another, as the candidate of the opposition, far from feeling any
discontent, the nomination will have my best wishes, and receive my
cordial support.’ He then exhorted the delegation from Kentucky to
think not of _him_, but of their bleeding, prostrate country, and to
coöperate with the convention in selecting such an individual as should
seem most competent to deliver her from the perils and dangers with
which she was environed.

The reading of this remarkable communication, sent a thrill of
astonishment and admiration through the hearts of all who listened
to it. Many were affected to tears. Mr. Barbour said, after assenting
to the determination of the convention, that he had been on terms of
intimacy with Mr. Clay for thirty years, and that a more devoted or
purer patriot and statesman never breathed, and that during that period
he had never heard him give utterance to a single sentiment unworthy
this character; that there was no place in his heart for one petty or
selfish consideration. Mr. Leigh, of Virginia, said, he never thought
that Mr. Clay needed the office, but that the country needed him. That
office could confer no dignity or honor on Henry Clay. The measure
of his fame was full, and whenever the tomb should close over him, it
would cover the loftiest intellect and the noblest heart that this age
had produced or known. ‘_I envy Kentucky, for when he dies she will
have his ashes!_’ said the venerable Peter R. Livingston, of New York.

In selecting a candidate for the vice presidency, it was thought that a
suitable one was found in John Tyler, of Virginia, who was accordingly

Mr. Clay concurred, cheerfully and nobly, in the nomination of
general Harrison, and exerted himself manfully in promoting his
election. Mr. Clay did not evince the slightest disappointment at the
result of the nominating convention, but seemed to rejoice over it. In
the presidential canvass, preceding the election of general Harrison,
Mr. Clay took a prominent part. In advocating the claims of general
Harrison to the presidency, he labored sedulously, also, to procure the
adoption of those principles which he considered ought to constitute
the rule of action to all virtuous politicians. Averse to every thing
like concealment himself, respecting his political sentiments, he
ascertained, accurately, those of general Harrison, and then faithfully
exhibited them. The contest resulted in the election of general
Harrison, who received two hundred and thirty-four of the two hundred
and ninety-four electoral votes cast. By the same vote Mr. Tyler was
elected to the vice presidency.

Mr. Clay continued, with unrelaxing energy, his services during the
session of 1839–40. The land bill came up again, and a warm debate
ensued between him and Mr. Calhoun, and somewhat harsh language passed
between them. The latter insinuated, that, at a certain time, he had
the ascendency over Mr. Clay in debate――that he was his (Mr. Clay’s)
master. In reply, Mr. Clay said, that so far from admitting Mr. Calhoun
to be his _master_, he would not own him for a _slave_. Mr. Clay,
however, was not the man to harbor hard feelings towards any one,
especially towards a political opponent. Soon after retiring from the
senate in 1842, he met Mr. Calhoun as he was passing out of the senate
chamber, and exchanged with him cordial salutations, while tears came
to the eyes of both.

On a variety of questions of public interest, Mr. Clay spoke, the
principal of which were, that of the abolition of slavery, the Maine
boundary line, the navy appropriation bill, branch mints, expenditures
of government, Cumberland road, and internal improvements. On the
twentieth of January, 1840, he delivered a speech of rare ability on
the sub-treasury, now called the independent treasury bill, which he
denominated a government bank in disguise.

On all suitable occasions Mr. Clay frankly avowed his political faith,
but never, perhaps, more minutely or explicitly, than at a dinner given
to him at Taylorsville, in June, 1840. His speech at that time is a
storehouse of sound political tenets, among which we find the following.

First. That there should be a provision to render a person ineligible
to the office of president of the United States, after a service of one

Second. That the veto power should be more precisely defined, and be
subjected to further limitations and qualifications.

Third. That the power of dismission from office should be restricted,
and the exercise of it rendered responsible.

Fourth. That the control over the treasury of the United States should
be confided and confined exclusively to congress; and all authority
of the president over it, by means of dismissing the secretary of
the treasury, or other persons having the immediate charge of it, be
rigorously precluded.

Fifth. That the appointment of members of congress to any office, or
any but a few specific offices, during their continuance in office, and
for one year thereafter, be prohibited.

General Harrison, previously to commencing his journey to Washington,
visited Mr. Clay, and tendered him any office in the president’s gift,
but he courteously, yet firmly, declined accepting one, and expressed
his unalterable resolution to withdraw from public life, as soon as he
should see those fundamental measures, for which he had been so long
and so ardently struggling, put in a train of accomplishment. To the
very last of Mr. Van Buren’s administration, he labored untiringly
to place them in such a position. He was the strenuous advocate of
a uniform system of bankruptcy. This was embodied in a bill reported
to the senate by the judiciary committee, in the spring of 1840, on
account of the numerous petitions presented in its favor. It passed the
senate, by a vote of twenty-four to twenty-three, but was defeated in
the house.

Directly after the inauguration of general Harrison, he issued his
proclamation ordering an extra session of congress, to commence on
the last Monday in May. Before that period arrived, the president
was no more. He died just one month after his introduction to office.
The intelligence of his death filled the nation with sadness, yet no
serious grounds of fear were entertained, because it was believed that
Mr. Tyler would discharge the duties of the presidency with fidelity.
Congress assembled in accordance with the proclamation of the late
lamented Harrison. Mr. Clay commenced the public business with vigor
and alacrity. The subjects which he deemed of pressing importance, and
should engage the immediate attention of the senate, were,

First, the repeal of the sub-treasury law.

Secondly, the incorporation of a bank adapted to the wants of the
people and government.

Thirdly, the provision of an adequate revenue, by the imposition of
duties, and including an authority to contract a temporary loan to
cover the public debt created by the last administration.

Fourthly, the prospective distribution of the proceeds of the public

Fifthly, the passage of necessary appropriation bills.

Sixthly, some modification in the banking system of the District of
Columbia, for the benefit of the people of the district.

From the head of the committee on finance, Mr. Clay moved the
appointment of a select committee, to take into consideration the bank
question, of which he was made chairman.

In June, Mr. Clay reported a plan for a national bank, which, after
an animated discussion, was adopted by both houses, which, on the
sixteenth of August, was vetoed by president Tyler. The return of
the bill was hailed with mingled surprise, sorrow, and alarm, in the
senate, which was addressed on the subject of the veto, by Mr. Clay, in
strains of lofty eloquence, almost surpassing himself. Another bill was
then framed with special reference to the objections of the president;
in other words, it was just such a bill as he had recommended. The
surprise and indignation were overwhelming, when it was known that
this bill had encountered the fate of its predecessor. Mr. Clay did
not scruple to denounce the exercise of the veto, as he had denounced
it in the case of general Jackson, as unjustifiable, and as involving
a manifest encroachment upon the liberties of the people.

With the solitary exception of Mr. Webster, the cabinet resigned their
seats, and the feeling of indignation, enkindled at Washington, spread
through and lit up the whole country into a glow of wrath, at the
uncalled for and unexpected procedure of Mr. Tyler.

Although baffled, and in a measure defeated, by the despotism of one
man, still Mr. Clay did not slacken his exertions to render relief
to his suffering and distracted country. He was at the head of two
important committees, and performed an amount of labor truly surprising.
He had the gratification of witnessing the repeal of the abominable
sub-treasury scheme, the passage of the bankrupt law, and his land bill.

An attempt to adjust the tariff was made, which occasioned another veto
from the president. This was directed mainly against the distribution
clause, which was finally surrendered to accommodate the views of the
president. The tariff bill at length became a law.

On the thirty-first of March, 1842, Mr. Clay executed his long and
fondly cherished design of retiring to the quiet of private life.
He resigned his seat in the senate, and presented to that body the
credentials of Mr. Crittenden, his friend, and successor. The scene
which ensued when he tendered his resignation, was indescribably
thrilling. It was not unlike that, when the father of his country,
surrounded by his companions in arms, pronounced his farewell address,
as they were about to disband and enter upon the possession and
enjoyment of that independence which their invincible arms had won.
Had the guardian genius of congress and the nation been about to take
his departure, and giving his parting admonitions, deeper feeling could
hardly have been manifested, than when Mr. Clay rose to address, on
this occasion, his congressional compeers. An individual witnessing the
breathless silence that pervaded the densely crowded senate chamber,
and the tears flowing freely and copiously from the eyes of all, would
have said, that wherever else Mr. Clay might have enemies, he had none
in that assembly. In those who were politically opposed, and in those
who were personally hostile to him, the movings of the best principles
of our being were not subjected to the cruel control of selfishness or
envy, but permitted to respond to the voice of nature, calling them in
her most enticing tones to unite with his devoted friends, in bearing
appropriate testimony to his public worth. The former no less than
the latter, manifested the most sincere regret at the prospect of his
departure. All felt that a master spirit was bidding them adieu――that
the pride and ornament of the senate and the glory of the nation was
being removed, and all grieved in view of the void that would be made.
He spoke as it might be expected the patriot warrior of a thousand
victorious battles would speak, standing on the field where they were
fought――the living, burning, sublime sentiments of patriotism. His
feelings often overpowered him. His voice, naturally musical, seemed
the very refinement of sweetness and pathos, whose honied accents
sank into the hearts of his hearers, like heaven’s benediction.
When Mr. Clay closed, the most intense emotion agitated the senate.
Mr. Preston rose, and remarked, in view of it, that he presumed there
would be little disposition to transact business; that the event that
had just occurred, was an epoch in the legislative history of the
nation, and that therefore he would move that the senate adjourn. The
motion was adopted unanimously.

His resignation as senator did not by any means close his intercourse
with his fellow-countrymen. He still labored for his country; and
by letters from his residence in Kentucky, and by speeches delivered
there and elsewhere, frequently sent forth his opinions on the various
topics of the day. The Whig party had long regarded him as their most
prominent candidate for the chief magistracy, and he was nominated by
acclamation in the convention of 1844, when ‘Justice to Henry Clay,’
was the watchword of the contest. He was defeated, however, by the late
James K. Polk, who unexpectedly received the democratic nomination, and
remained in retirement until after the election of General Taylor to
the Presidency. In compliance with the earnest wishes of his political
friends he consented to resume his seat in the senate, and in 1849 was
again elected to that honorable position. During the exciting session
of 1849–50, all his energies were devoted to securing the passage of
the series of measures known as the ‘Compromise Acts,’ and there is
no doubt that his incessant and intense labors upon the multifarious
schemes which engrossed the attention of congress, occasioned serious
debility and hastened his death. When, in the winter of 1850–51,
it became but too evident that his disease was gaining the mastery
over him, he visited New Orleans and Havana, in the hope that travel
and relaxation, united with the effects of change of climate, would
renovate his physical system. No ♦permanent advantage, however,
resulted from this experiment, and he was again induced, by a
consciousness of his failing health, to resign his seat in the
senate――the resignation to take effect on the 6th of September, 1852.
But he was not destined to see that day. He became gradually weaker and
weaker, and was confined to his room in Washington for several weeks,
where he breathed his last on the morning of the 29th of June, 1852, at
seventeen minutes past eleven o’clock. No one was present at the time,
except his son, Thomas Hart Clay, and governor Jones, of Tennessee. His
last moments were calm and quiet, and he seemed in full possession of
all his faculties, apparently suffering but little. He did not speak
for many hours before his dissolution, but his countenance indicated
a happy resignation and full knowledge of his condition. He had long
previously made every preparation for death, giving his son full
instructions as to the disposition of his body and the settlement of
his worldly affairs.

Perhaps the death of no individual since that of the revered
Washington ever spread such a universal gloom over the country. In
all the principal cities of the Union, funeral honors were paid to
his memory, which were heartfelt and sincere, and evinced a pervading
feeling in the public mind that a great benefactor and friend was no
more. In the Senate and House of Representatives, as will be seen by
the subjoined proceedings, every one seemed anxious to testify his
respect for the memory of the great man who had so long figured in
our national councils. Political differences were forgotten, and all
parties united in rendering homage to his transcendent worth and in
mourning his irreparable loss. A committee was appointed to attend his
remains to Kentucky, where they now repose.

We shall not attempt an analysis of his mind, conscious of our
inability to do it justice. Its powers were so numerous and so great,
as to make the task no light one. Its most prominent attribute was
_patriotism_. This was the sun of its lofty faculties, which revolved
about it in the order of satellites. Every thing was subordinate to,
or absorbed by it. This was seen in every part of his career, towering
magnificently upwards, like a mighty mountain, to bathe its head in
everlasting sunshine, and formed its loveliest and most attractive
feature. With Mr. Clay, patriotism was no unmeaning word. He made it
the grand test of both principle and measure, and the main-spring of
action. His devotion to it was most remarkable; so exclusive, as to
lead him to sacrifice every other consideration upon its altar. On
one occasion, acting under its influence, he said to Mr. Grundy, ‘Tell
general Jackson, that if he will sign _that bill_ (the land bill),
I will pledge myself to retire from congress, and _never enter public
life again_;’ of such vital importance did he consider that bill to
the welfare of his beloved country. One cannot avoid breaking out
in exclamations of admiration, and reverence, even, in view of such
self-immolating political purity, as this sincere declaration evinces.
_My country, my country_, seems to have been the constant apex of his
thoughts and wishes. This attribute gave to his commanding eloquence
its invincible power, and was the rocky pedestal on which he reared the
temple of his immortal fame.

Political consistency was another prominent characteristic of Mr. Clay.
This, like a line of light, is traceable through all his public life.
The soundness of his judgment was worthy of note, by which he was
enabled to predict, with almost prophetic accuracy, the effect of
the adoption of certain measures. As a writer, Mr. Clay’s style was
nervous, perspicuous, and concise, evincing the freshness and beauty
of originality, usually moving on in a deep and quiet current, but at
times rushing like the mountain torrent, overthrowing all obstacles.
He was peculiarly qualified for the regions of argument and close
investigation, yet he could soar into that of imagination, and whenever
he did, it was the flight of the eagle towards heaven. His power of
illustration was felicitous, demonstrating an intimate acquaintance
with the secret springs of the soul, and a sagacious knowledge of its
♦mysterious movements. His conversational faculties were striking,
and exceedingly versatile, enabling him to accommodate himself to
the capacities of all, to the humblest, as well as to the loftiest
intellect. It was remarked of Mr. Burke, by Dr. Johnson, that if a
tempest, or any other occurrence, should cause him to take shelter
under the roof of a peasant, he would find sufficient topics to employ
his conversational powers, and _would so employ_ them as to leave
indelibly impressed upon the mind of its lowly occupant, the belief,
that he was listening to no ordinary man. This would be emphatically
true of Mr. Clay, who possessed, in an eminent degree, the faculty
attributed to Mr. Burke. It was the exercise of this, that so endeared
him to those who were privileged to come within the sphere of its
influence, which invested his domestic and social relations with their
greatest charms.

In private life, Mr. Clay exhibited the noblest characteristics of
human nature, which may be expressed by one word――_openheartedness_.
He was kind and liberal to a fault. Says one who was intimate with
him, ‘his door and his purse were alike open to the friendless stranger
and the unfortunate neighbor. Frank, open, and above the meanness of
deception himself, and consequently never searching for duplicity and
treachery in those around him, he more than once suffered from the vile
ingratitude of men who have been cherished by his bounty and upheld by
his influence.

‘The curse of aristocracy never chilled the warm flow of his natural
feelings. His heart continued as warm, his hand as free, and his smile
as familiar as they were when, without friends and without influence,
he first responded to the hearty welcome of the Kentuckian. His
feelings never changed with his fortunes.’

Mr. Clay was admirably qualified for the interchange of social and
friendly feelings, in which he indulged most judiciously. His convivial
interviews were enlivened by enjoyments of a marked intellectual
character. His readiness at repartee, and aptitude for reply, were
conspicuous features in his character. No emergency, however sudden
or unexpected, found him unprepared, or disarmed him. He perceived the
bearing of remarks, with the quickness of intuition, however vague or
ambiguous they might be, and, with the suddenness of thought, framed
and uttered a suitable reply.

Perhaps we cannot better close this imperfect memoir than by appending
the following eloquent tribute from the pen of GEORGE D. PRENTICE, Esq.
It originally appeared in the _Southern Ladies’ Book_, for June, 1853,
and has been extensively republished in other periodicals――an evidence
of its claim to preservation in a less perishable form.

                              HENRY CLAY.

              With voice and mien of stern control
                He stood among the great and proud,
              And words of fire burst from his soul
                Like lightnings from the tempest cloud;
              His high and deathless themes were crowned
                With glory of his genius born,
              And gloom and ruin darkly frowned
                Where fell his bolts of wrath and scorn.

              But he is gone――the free, the bold――
                The champion of his country’s right;
              His burning eye is dim and cold,
                And mute his voice of conscious might.
              Oh no, not mute――his stirring call
                Can startle tyrants on their thrones,
              And on the hearts of nations fall
                More awful than his living tones.

              The impulse that his spirit gave
                To human thought’s wild, stormy sea,
              Will heave and thrill through every wave
                Of that great deep eternally;
              And the all-circling atmosphere,
                With which is blent his breath of flame,
              Will sound, with cadence deep and clear,
                In storm and calm, his voice and name.

              His words that like a bugle blast
                Erst rang along the Grecian shore,
              And o’er the hoary Andes passed,
                Will still ring on for evermore.
              Great Liberty will catch the sounds,
                And start to newer, brighter life,
              And summon from Earth’s utmost bounds
                Her children to the glorious strife.

              Unnumbered pilgrims o’er the wave,
                In the far ages yet to be,
              Will come to kneel beside his grave,
                And hail him prophet of the free.
              ’Tis holier ground, that lowly bed
                In which his mouldering form is laid,
              Than fields where Liberty has bled
                Beside her broken battle-blade.

              Who now, in danger’s fearful hour,
                When all around is wild and dark,
              Shall guard with voice, and arm of power,
                Our freedom’s consecrated ark?
              With stricken hearts, Oh God, to Thee,
                Beneath whose feet the stars are dust,
              We bow, and ask that thou wilt be
                Through every ill our stay and trust.

                          OBITUARY ADDRESSES

                          ON THE OCCASION OF
                   THE DEATH OF THE HON. HENRY CLAY;

                           DELIVERED IN THE


                          THE FUNERAL SERMON,

                PREACHED IN THE CAPITOL, JULY 1, 1852,


AFTER the reading of the Journal, Mr. Underwood rose, and addressed the
senate as follows:

MR. PRESIDENT: I rise to announce the death of my colleague,
Mr. Clay. He died at his lodgings, in the National Hotel of this city,
at seventeen minutes past eleven o’clock yesterday morning, in the
seventy-sixth year of his age. He expired with perfect composure, and
without a groan or struggle.

By his death our country has lost one of its most eminent citizens and
statesmen; and, I think, its greatest genius. I shall not detain the
Senate by narrating the transactions of his long and useful life. His
distinguished services as a statesman are inseparably connected with
the history of his country. As Representative and Speaker in the other
House of Congress, as Senator in this body, as Secretary of State, and
as Envoy abroad, he has, in all these positions, exhibited a wisdom
and patriotism which have made a deep and lasting impression upon
the grateful hearts of his countrymen. His thoughts and his actions
have already been published to the world in written biography; in
Congressional debates and reports; in the Journals of the two Houses;
and in the pages of American history. They have been commemorated by
monuments erected on the wayside. They have been engraven on medals of
gold. Their memory will survive the monuments of marble and the medals
of gold; for these are effaced and decay by the friction of ages. But
the thoughts and actions of my late colleague have become identified
with the immortality of the human mind, and will pass down from
generation to generation, as a portion of our national inheritance,
incapable of annihilation, so long as genius has an admirer or liberty
a friend.

Mr. President: The character of Henry Clay was formed and developed
by the influence of our free institutions. His physical, mental, and
moral faculties were the gift of God. That they were greatly superior
to the faculties allotted to most men, cannot be questioned. They
were not cultivated, improved, and directed by a liberal or collegiate
education. His respectable parents were not wealthy, and had not the
means of maintaining their children at college. Moreover, his father
died when he was a boy. At an early period, Mr. Clay was thrown upon
his own resources, without patrimony. He grew up in a clerk’s office in
Richmond, Virginia. He there studied law. He emigrated from his native
state, and settled in Lexington, Kentucky, where he commenced the
practice of his profession before he was of full age.

The road to wealth, to honour, and fame, was open before him. Under
our Constitution and laws he might freely employ his great faculties
unobstructed by legal impediments, and unaided by exclusive privileges.
Very soon Mr. Clay made a deep and favorable impression upon the people
among whom he began his career. The excellence of his natural faculties
was soon displayed. Necessity stimulated him in their cultivation.
His assiduity, skill, and fidelity in professional engagements secured
public confidence. He was elected member of the legislature of Kentucky,
in which body he served several sessions prior to 1806. In that year he
was elevated to a seat in the senate of the United States.

At the bar and in the General Assembly of Kentucky, Mr. Clay first
manifested those high qualities as a public speaker which have secured
to him so much popular applause and admiration. His physical and mental
organization eminently qualified him to become a great and impressive
orator. His person was tall, slender, and commanding. His temperament
ardent, fearless, and full of hope. His countenance clear, expressive,
and variable――indicating the emotion which predominated at the moment
with exact similitude. His voice, cultivated and modulated in harmony
with the sentiment he desired to express, fell upon the ear like the
melody of enrapturing music. His eye beaming with intelligence and
flashing with coruscations of genius. His gestures and attitudes
graceful and natural. These personal advantages won the prepossessions
of an audience, even before his intellectual powers began to move his
hearers; and when his strong common sense, his profound reasoning, his
clear conceptions of his subject in all its bearings, and his striking
and beautiful illustrations, united with such personal qualities, were
brought to the discussion of any question, his audience was enraptured,
convinced, and led by the orator as if enchanted by the lyre of Orpheus.

No man was ever blessed by his Creator with faculties of a higher order
of excellence than those given to Mr. Clay. In the quickness of his
perceptions, and the rapidity with which his conclusions were formed,
he had few equals and no superior. He was eminently endowed with a nice,
discriminating taste for order, symmetry, and beauty. He detected in a
moment every thing out of place or deficient in his room, upon his farm,
in his own or the dress of others. He was a skilful judge of the form
and qualities of his domestic animals, which he delighted to raise on
his farm. I could give you instances of the quickness and minuteness
of his keen faculty of observation which never overlooked any thing. A
want of neatness and order was offensive to him. He was particular and
neat in his handwriting and his apparel. A slovenly blot or negligence
of any sort met his condemnation; while he was so organized that he
attended to, and arranged little things to please and gratify his
natural love for neatness, order, and beauty, his great intellectual
faculties grasped all the subjects of jurisprudence and politics with
a facility amounting almost to intuition. As a lawyer, he stood at the
head of his profession. As a statesman, his stand at the head of the
Republican Whig party for nearly half a century, establishes his title
to preeminence among his illustrious associates.

Mr. Clay was deeply versed in all the springs of human action. He had
read and studied biography and history. Shortly after I left college, I
had occasion to call on him in Frankfort, where he was attending court,
and well I remember to have found him with Plutarch’s Lives in his
hands. No one better than he knew how to avail himself of human motives,
and all the circumstances which surrounded a subject, or could present
them with more force and skill to accomplish the object of an argument.

Mr. Clay, throughout his public career, was influenced by the loftiest
patriotism. Confident in the truth of his convictions and the purity
of his purposes, he was ardent, sometimes impetuous, in the pursuit of
objects which he believed essential to the general welfare. Those who
stood in his way were thrown aside without fear or ceremony. He never
affected a courtier’s deference to men or opinions which he thought
hostile to the best interests of his country; and hence he may have
wounded the vanity of those who thought themselves of consequence. It
is certain, whatever the cause, that at one period of his life Mr. Clay
might have been referred to as proof that there is more truth than
fiction in those profound lines of the poet――

       ‘He who ascends the mountain top shall find
          Its loftiest peaks most wrapt in clouds and snow;
        He who surpasses or subdues mankind,
          Must look down on the hate of those below:
          Though far above the sun of glory glow,
        And far beneath the earth and ocean spread.
          Round him are icy rocks, and loudly blow
        Contending tempests on his naked head,
        And thus reward the toils which to those summits led.’

Calumny and detraction emptied their vials upon him. But how glorious
the change! He outlived malice and envy. He lived long enough to prove
to the world that his ambition was no more than a holy aspiration to
make his country the greatest, most powerful, and best governed on the
earth. If he desired its highest office, it was because the greater
power and influence resulting from such elevation would enable him to
do more than he otherwise could for the progress and advancement――first
of his own countrymen, then of his whole race. His sympathies embraced
all. The African slave, the Creole of Spanish America, the children
of renovated classic Greece――all families of men, without respect to
color or clime, found in his expanded bosom and comprehensive intellect
a friend of their elevation and amelioration. Such ambition as that,
is God’s implantation in the human heart for raising the down-trodden
nations of the earth, and fitting them for regenerated existence in
politics, in morals, and religion.

Bold and determined as Mr. Clay was in all his actions, he was,
nevertheless, conciliating. He did not obstinately adhere to things
impracticable. If he could not accomplish the best, he contented
himself with the nighest approach to it. He has been the great
compromiser of those political agitations and opposing opinions which
have, in the belief of thousands, at different times, endangered the
perpetuity of our Federal Government and Union.

Mr. Clay was no less remarkable for his admirable social qualities
than for his intellectual abilities. As a companion, he was the delight
of his friends; and no man ever had better or truer. They have loved
him from the beginning, and loved him to the last. His hospitable
mansion at Ashland was always open to their reception. No guest ever
thence departed without feeling happier for his visit. But, alas! that
hospitable mansion has already been converted into a house of mourning;
already has intelligence of his death passed with electric velocity to
that aged and now widowed lady, who, for more than fifty years, bore
to him all the endearing relations of wife, and whose feeble condition
prevented her from joining him in this city, and soothing the anguish
of life’s last scene by those endearing attentions which no one can
give so well as woman and a wife. May God infuse into her heart and
mind the Christian spirit of submission under her bereavement! It
cannot be long before she may expect a rëunion in Heaven. A nation
condoles with her and her children on account of their irreparable loss.

Mr. Clay, from the nature of his disease, declined very gradually. He
bore his protracted sufferings with great equanimity and patience. On
one occasion, he said to me, that when death was inevitable and must
soon come, and when the sufferer was ready to die, he did not perceive
the wisdom of praying to be ‘delivered from sudden death.’ He thought
under such circumstances the sooner suffering was relieved by death
the better. He desired the termination of his own sufferings, while
he acknowledged the duty of patiently waiting and abiding the pleasure
of God. Mr. Clay frequently spoke to me of his hope of eternal life,
founded upon the merits of Jesus Christ as a Saviour; who, as he
remarked, came into the world to bring ‘life and immortality to light.’
He was a member of the Episcopalian Church. In one of our conversations
he told me, that as his hour of dissolution approached, he found that
his affections were concentrating more and more upon his domestic
circle――his wife and children. In my daily visits, he was in the
habit of asking me to detail to him the transactions of the senate.
This I did, and he manifested much interest in passing occurrences.
His inquiries were less frequent as his end approached. For the
week preceding his death, he seemed to be altogether abstracted
from the concerns of the world. When he became so low that he could
not converse without being fatigued, he frequently requested those
around him to converse. He would then quietly listen. He retained his
mental faculties in great perfection. His memory remained perfect. He
frequently mentioned events and conversations of recent occurrence,
showing that he had a perfect recollection of what was said and done.
He said to me that he was grateful to God for continuing to him the
blessing of reason, which enabled him to contemplate and reflect
on his situation. He manifested during his confinement the same
characteristics which marked his conduct through the vigor of his life.
He was exceedingly averse to give his friends ‘_trouble_,’ as he called
it. Some time before he knew it, we commenced waiting through the
night in an adjoining room. He said to me, after passing a painful day,
‘Perhaps some one had better remain all night in the parlor.’ From this
time he knew some friend was constantly at hand, ready to attend to him.

Mr. President, the majestic form of Mr. Clay will no more grace these
halls. No more shall we hear that voice which has so often thrilled and
charmed the assembled representatives of the American people. No more
shall we see that waving hand and eye of light, as when he was engaged
unfolding his policy in regard to the varied interests of our growing
and mighty republican empire. His voice is silent on earth for ever!
The darkness of death has obscured the lustre of his eye. But the
memory of his services――not only to his beloved Kentucky, not only
to the United States, but for the cause of human freedom and progress
throughout the world――will live through future ages, as a bright
example, stimulating and encouraging his own countrymen and the people
of all nations in their patriotic devotions to country and humanity.

With Christians, there is yet a nobler and a higher thought in regard
to Mr. Clay. They will think of him in connection with eternity.
They will contemplate his immortal spirit occupying its true relative
magnitude among the moral stars of glory in the presence of God. They
will think of him as having fulfilled the duties allotted to him on
earth, having been regenerated by Divine grace, and having passed
through the valley of the shadow of death, and reached an everlasting
and happy home in that ‘house not made with hands, eternal in the

On Sunday morning last I was watching alone at Mr. Clay’s bedside.
For the last hour he had been unusually quiet, and I thought he was
sleeping. In that, however, he told me I was mistaken. Opening his eyes
and looking at me, he said, ‘Mr. Underwood, there may be some question
where my remains shall be buried. Some persons may designate Frankfort.
I wish to repose at the cemetery in Lexington, where many of my friends
and connections are buried.’ My reply was, ‘I will endeavor to have
your wish executed.’

I now ask the senate to have his corpse transmitted to Lexington,
Kentucky, for sepulture. Let him sleep with the dead of that city, in
and near which his home has been for more than half a century. For the
people of Lexington, the living and the dead, he manifested, by the
statement made to me, a pure and holy sympathy, and a desire to cleave
unto them, as strong as that which bound Ruth to Naomi. It was his
anxious wish to return to them before he died, and to realize what
the daughter of Moab so strongly felt and beautifully expressed: ‘Thy
people shall be my people, and thy God my God. Where thou diest will
I die, and there will I be buried.’

It is fit that the tomb of Henry Clay should be in the city of
Lexington. In our Revolution, liberty’s first libation-blood was
poured out in a town of that name in Massachusetts. On hearing it, the
pioneers of Kentucky consecrated the name, and applied it to the place
where Mr. Clay desired to be buried. The associations connected with
the name harmonize with his character; and the monument erected to his
memory at the spot selected by him will be visited by the votaries of
genius and liberty with that reverence which is inspired at the tomb
of Washington. Upon that monument let his epitaph be engraved.

Mr. President, I have availed myself of Doctor Johnson’s paraphrase of
the epitaph on Thomas Hanmer, with a few alterations and additions, to
express in borrowed verse my admiration for the life and character of
Mr. Clay, and with this heart-tribute to the memory of my illustrious
colleague I conclude my remarks:

          Born when Freedom her stripes and stars unfurl’d,
          When Revolution shook the startled world――
          Heroes and sages taught his brilliant mind
          To know and love the rights of all mankind.
          ‘In life’s first bloom his public toils began,
          At once commenced the senator and man:
          In business dext’rous, weighty in debate,
          Near fifty years he labor’d for the state.
          In every speech persuasive wisdom flow’d,
          In every act refulgent virtue glow’d;
          Suspended faction ceased from rage and strife,
          To hear his eloquence and praise his life.
          Resistless merit fixed the Members’ choice,
          Who hail’d him Speaker with united voice.’
          His talents ripening with advancing years――
          His wisdom growing with his public cares――
          A chosen envoy, war’s dark horrors cease,
          And tides of carnage turn to streams of peace.
          Conflicting principles; internal strife,
          Tariff and slavery, disunion rife,
          All, all are _compromised_ by his great hand,
          And beams of joy illuminate the land.
          Patriot, Christian, Husband, Father, Friend,
          Thy work of life achieved a glorious end!

I offer the following resolutions:

  _Resolved_, That a committee of six be appointed by the
  president of the senate, to take order for superintending the
  funeral of Henry Clay, late a member of this body, which will
  take place to-morrow at twelve o’clock, M., and that the senate
  will attend the same.

  _Resolved_, That the members of the senate, from a sincere
  desire of showing every mark of respect to the memory of the
  deceased, will go into mourning for one month by the usual mode
  of wearing crape on the left arm.

  _Resolved_, As a further mark of respect entertained by
  the senate for the memory of Henry Clay, and his long and
  distinguished services to his country, that his remains, in
  pursuance of the known wishes of his family, be removed to the
  place of sepulture selected by himself at Lexington, in Kentucky,
  in charge of the sergeant at arms, and attended by a committee
  of six senators, to be appointed by the president of the senate,
  who shall have full power to carry this resolution into effect.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. CASS.――Mr. President: Again has an impressive warning come to teach
us, that in the midst of life we are in death. The ordinary labors of
this hall are suspended, and its contentions hushed, before the power
of Him, who says to the storm of human passion, as He said of old to
the waves of Galilee, PEACE, BE STILL. The lessons of His providence,
severe as they may be, often become merciful dispensations, like that
which is now spreading sorrow through the land, and which is reminding
us that we have higher duties to fulfil, and graver responsibilities to
encounter, than those that meet us here, when we lay our hand upon His
holy word, and invoke His holy name, promising to be faithful to that
Constitution, which He gave us in His mercy, and will withdraw only in
the hour of our blindness and disobedience, and of His own wrath.

Another great man has fallen in our land, ripe indeed in years and in
honors, but never dearer to the American people than when called from
the theatre of his services and renown to that final bar where the
lofty and the lowly must all meet at last.

I do not rise, upon this mournful occasion, to indulge in the language
of panegyric. My regard for the memory of the dead, and for the
obligations of the living, would equally rebuke such a course. The
severity of truth is, at once, our proper duty and our best consolation.
Born during the revolutionary struggle, our deceased associate was
one of the few remaining public men who connect the present generation
with the actors in the trying scenes of that eventful period, and whose
names and deeds will soon be known only in the history of their country.
He was another illustration, and a noble one, too, of the glorious
equality of our institutions, which freely offer all their rewards
to all who justly seek them; for he was the architect of his own
fortune, having made his way in life by self-exertion; and he was
an early adventurer in the great forest of the West, then a world of
primitive vegetation, but now the abode of intelligence and religion,
of prosperity and civilization. But he possessed that intellectual
superiority which overcomes surrounding obstacles, and which local
seclusion cannot long withhold from general knowledge and appreciation.

It is almost half a century since he passed through Chilicothe,
then the seat of government of Ohio, where I was a member of the
legislature, on his way to take his place in this very body, which is
now listening to this reminiscence, and to a feeble tribute of regard
from one who then saw him for the first time, but who can never forget
the impression he produced by the charms of his conversation, the
frankness of his manner, and the high qualities with which he was
endowed. Since then he has belonged to his country, and has taken a
part, and a prominent part, both in peace and war, in all the great
questions affecting her interest and her honor; and though it has been
my fortune often to differ from him, yet I believe he was as pure a
patriot as ever participated in the councils of a nation, anxious for
the public good, and seeking to promote it, during all the vicissitudes
of a long and eventful life. That he exercised a powerful influence,
within the sphere of his action, through the whole country, indeed, we
all feel and know; and we know, too, the eminent endowments to which
he owed this high distinction. Frank and fearless in the expression of
his opinion, and in the performance of his duties, with rare powers of
eloquence, which never failed to rivet the attention of his auditory,
and which always commanded admiration, even when they did not carry
conviction――prompt in decision, and firm in action, and with a vigorous
intellect, trained in the contests of a stirring life, and strengthened
by enlarged experience and observation, joined withal to an ardent
love of country, and to great purity of purpose,――these were the
elements of his power and success; and we dwell upon them with mournful
gratification now, when we shall soon follow him to the cold and silent
tomb, where we shall commit “earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to
dust,” but with the blessed conviction of the truth of that Divine
revelation which teaches us that there is life and hope beyond the
narrow house, where we shall leave him alone to the mercy of his God
and ours.

He has passed beyond the reach of human praise or censure; but the
judgment of his contemporaries has preceded and pronounced the judgment
of history, and his name and fame will shed lustre upon his country,
and will be proudly cherished in the hearts of his countrymen for long
ages to come. Yes, they will be cherished and freshly remembered, when
these marble columns that surround us, so often the witnesses of his
triumph――but in a few brief hours, when his mortal frame, despoiled
of the immortal spirit, shall rest under this dome for the last time,
to become the witnesses of his defeat in that final contest, where the
mightiest fall before the great destroyer――when these marble columns
shall themselves have fallen, like all the works of man, leaving their
broken fragments to tell the story of former magnificence, amid the
very ruins which announce decay and desolation.

I was often with him during his last illness, when the world and the
things of the world were fast fading away before him. He knew that the
silver cord was almost loosened, and that the golden bowl was breaking
at the fountain; but he was resigned to the will of Providence, feeling
that he who gave has the right to take away, in his own good time
and manner. After his duty to his Creator, and his anxiety for his
family, his first care was for his country, and his first wish for the
preservation and perpetuation of the Constitution and the Union――dear
to him in the hour of death, as they had ever been in the vigor of
life. Of that Constitution and Union, whose defence in the last and
greatest crisis of their peril, had called forth all his energies,
and stimulated those memorable and powerful exertions, which he who
witnessed can never forget, and which no doubt hastened the final
catastrophe a nation now deplores, with a sincerity and unanimity, not
less honorable to themselves, than to the memory of the object of their
affections. And when we shall enter that narrow valley, through which
he has passed before us, and which leads to the judgment-seat of God,
may we be able to say, through faith in his Son, our Saviour, and in
the beautiful language of the hymn of the dying Christian――dying, but
ever living, and triumphant――

               ‘The world recedes, it disappears――
                Heaven opens on my eyes! my ears
                  With sounds seraphic ring;
                Lend, lend your wings! I mount――I fly!
                Oh, Grave! where is thy victory?
                  Oh, Death! where is thy sting!’

‘Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last hour be like

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. HUNTER.――Mr. President: We have heard, with deep sensibility, what
has just fallen from the senators who have preceded me. We have heard,
sir, the voice of Kentucky――and, upon this occasion, she had a right to
speak――in mingled accents of pride and sorrow; for it has rarely fallen
to the lot of any state to lament the loss of such a son. But Virginia,
too, is entitled to her place in this procession; for she cannot be
supposed to be unmindful of the tie which bound her to the dead. When
the earth opens to receive the mortal part which she gave to man, it
is then that affection is eager to bury in its bosom every recollection
but those of love and kindness. And, sir, when the last sensible tie
is about to be severed, it is then that we look with anxious interest
to the deeds of the life, and to the emanations of the heart and the
mind, for those more enduring monuments which are the creations of an
immortal nature.

In this instance, we can be at no loss for these. This land, sir, is
full of the monuments of his genius. His memory is as imperishable as
American history itself, for he was one of those who made it. Sir, he
belonged to that marked class who are the men of their century; for
it was his rare good fortune not only to have been endowed with the
capacity to do great things, but to have enjoyed the opportunities of
achieving them. I know, sir, it has been said and deplored, that he
wanted some of the advantages of an early education; but it, perhaps,
has not been remembered that, in many respects, he enjoyed such
opportunities for mental training as can rarely fall to the lot of
man. He had not a chance to learn so much from books, but he had such
opportunities of learning from men as few have ever enjoyed. Sir, it
is to be remembered that he was reared at a time when there was a state
of society, in the commonwealth which gave him birth, such as has never
been seen there before nor since. It was his early privilege to see how
justice was administered by a Pendleton and a Wythe, with the last of
whom he was in the daily habit of familiar intercourse. He had constant
opportunities to observe how forensic questions were managed by a
Marshall and a Wickham. He was old enough, too, to have heard and to
have appreciated the eloquence of a Patrick Henry, and of George Keith
Taylor. In short, sir, he lived in a society in which the examples of a
Jefferson, and a Madison, and a Monroe, were living influences, and on
which the setting sun of a Washington cast the mild effulgence of its
departing rays.

He was trained, too, as has been well said by the senator from
Michigan, [Mr. Cass,] at a period when the recent revolutionary
struggle had given a more elevated tone to patriotism, and imparted
a higher cast to public feeling and to public character. Such lessons
were worth, perhaps, more to him than the whole encyclopedia of
scholastic learning. Not only were the circumstances of his early
training favorable to the development of his genius, but the theatre
upon which he was thrown, was eminently propitious for its exercise.
The circumstances of the early settlement of Kentucky, the generous,
daring, and reckless character of the people――all fitted it to be the
theatre for the display of those commanding qualities of heart and mind,
which he so eminently possessed. There can be little doubt but that
those people and their chosen leader exercised a mutual influence upon
each other; and no one can be surprised that, with his brave spirit,
and commanding eloquence, and fascinating address, he should have led
not only there, but elsewhere.

I did not know him, Mr. President, as you did, in the freshness of
his prime, or in the full maturity of his manhood. I did not hear him,
sir, as you have heard him, when his voice roused the spirit of his
countrymen for war――when he cheered the drooping, when he rallied the
doubting through all the vicissitudes of a long and doubtful contest.
I have never seen him, sir, when, from the height of the chair, he
ruled the House of Representatives by the energy of his will, or when
upon the level of the floor he exercised a control almost as absolute,
by the mastery of his intellect. When I first knew him, his sun had
a little passed its zenith. The effacing hand of time had just begun
to touch the lineaments of his manhood. But yet, sir, I saw enough of
him to be able to realize what he might have been in the prime of his
strength, and in the full vigor of his maturity. I saw him, sir, as you
did, when he led the ‘opposition’ during the administration of Mr. Van
Buren. I had daily opportunities of witnessing the exhibition of his
powers during the extra session under Mr. Tyler’s administration. And I
saw, as we all saw, in a recent contest, the exhibition of power on his
part, which was most marvellous in one of his years.

Mr. President, he may not have had as much of analytic skill as
some others, in dissecting a subject. It may be, perhaps, that he
did not seek to look quite so far ahead as some who have been most
distinguished for political forecast. But it may be truly said of
Mr. Clay, that he was no exaggerator. He looked at events through
neither end of the telescope, but surveyed them with the natural and
the naked eye. He had the capacity of seeing things as the people
saw them, and of feeling things as the people felt them. He had, sir,
beyond any other man whom I have ever seen, the true mesmeric touch
of the orator――the rare art of transferring his impulses to others.
Thoughts, feelings, emotions, came from the ready mould of his genius,
radiant and glowing, and communicated their own warmth to every heart
which received them. His, too, was the power of wielding the higher
and intenser forms of passion with a majesty and an ease, which none
but the great masters of the human heart can ever employ. It was his
rare good fortune to have been one of those who form, as it were, a
sensible link, a living tradition which connects one age with another,
and through which one generation speaks its thoughts and feelings,
and appeals to another. And, unfortunate is it for a country, when it
ceases to possess such men, for it is to them that we chiefly owe the
capacity to maintain the unity of the great Epos of human history, and
preserve the consistency of political action.

Sir, it may be said that the grave is still new-made which covers the
mortal remains of one of those great men who have been taken from our
midst, and the earth is soon to open to receive another. I know not
whether it can be said to be a matter of lamentation, so far as the
dead are concerned, that the thread of this life has been clipped when
once it had been fully spun. They escape the infirmities of age, and
they leave an imperishable name behind them. The loss, sir, is not
theirs, but ours; and a loss the more to be lamented that we see none
to fill the places thus made vacant on the stage of public affairs. But
it may be well for us, who have much more cause to mourn and to lament
such deaths, to pause amidst the business of life for the purpose of
contemplating the spectacle before us, and of drawing the moral from
the passing event. It is when death seizes for its victims those who
are, by ‘a head and shoulders, taller than all the rest,’ that we feel
most deeply the uncertainty of human affairs, and that ‘the glories of
our mortal state are shadows, not substantial things.’ It is, sir, in
such instances as the present that we can best study by the light of
example the true objects of life, and the wisest ends of human pursuit.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. HALE.――Mr. President: I hope I shall not be considered obtrusive,
if on this occasion, for a brief moment, I mingle my humble voice
with those that, with an ability that I shall neither attempt nor
hope to equal, have sought to do justice to the worth and memory of
the deceased, and at the same time appropriately to minister to the
sympathies and sorrows of a stricken people. Sir, it is the teaching
of inspiration that ‘no man liveth and no man dieth unto himself.’

There is a lesson taught no less in the death than in the life of every
man――eminently so in the case of one who has filled a large space and
occupied a distinguished position in the thoughts and regard of his
fellow-men. Particularly instructive at this time is the event which we
now deplore, although the circumstances attending his decease are such
as are calculated to assuage rather than aggravate the grief which it
must necessarily cause. His time had fully come. The three score and
ten marking the ordinary period of human life had for some years been
passed, and, full of years and of honors, he has gone to his rest. And
now, when the nation is marshalling itself for the contest which is
to decide ‘who shall be greatest,’ as if to chasten our ambition, to
restrain and subdue the violence of passion, to moderate our desires
and elevate our hopes, we have the spectacle of one who, by the force
of his intellect and the energy of his own purpose, had achieved a
reputation which the highest official honors of the Republic might have
illustrated, but could not have enhanced, laid low in death――as if,
at the very outset of this political contest, on which the nation is
now entering, to teach the ambitious and aspiring the vanity of human
pursuit and end of earthly honor. But, sir, I do not intend to dwell
on that moral which is taught by the silent lips and closed eye of the
illustrious dead, with a force such as no man ever spoke with; but I
shall leave the event, with its silent and mute eloquence, to impress
its own appropriate teachings on the heart.

In the long and eventful life of Mr. Clay, in the various positions
which he occupied, in the many posts of public duty which he filled, in
the many exhibitions which his history affords of untiring energy, of
unsurpassed eloquence, and of devoted patriotism, it would be strange
indeed if different minds, as they dwell upon the subject, were all to
select the same incidents of his life, as preëminently calculated to
challenge admiration and respect.

Sir, my admiration――ay, my affection for Mr. Clay――was won and secured
many years since, even in my school-boy days――when his voice of counsel,
encouragement, and sympathy, was heard in the other hall of this
capitol, in behalf of the struggling colonies of the southern portion
of this continent, who, in pursuit of their inalienable rights, in
imitation of our own forefathers, had unfurled the banner of liberty,
and, regardless of consequences, had gallantly rushed into that contest
where ‘life is lost, or freedom won.’ And again, sir, when Greece,
rich in the memories of the past, awoke from the slumber of ages of
oppression and centuries of shame, and resolved

        ‘To call her virtues back, and conquer time and fate’――

there, over the plains of that classic land, above the din of battle
and the clash of arms, mingling with the shouts of the victors and the
groans of the vanquished, were heard the thrilling and stirring notes
of that same eloquence, excited by a sympathy which knew no bounds,
wide as the world, pleading the cause of Grecian liberty before the
American congress, as if to pay back to Greece the debt which every
patriot and orator felt was her due. Sir, in the long and honorable
career of the deceased, there are many events and circumstances upon
which his friends and posterity will dwell with satisfaction and pride,
but none which will preserve his memory with more unfading lustre to
future ages than the course he pursued in the Spanish, American, and
Greek revolutions.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. CLEMENS.――Mr. President: I should not have thought it necessary
to add any thing to what has already been said, but for a request
preferred by some of the friends of the deceased. I should have been
content to mourn him in silence, and left it to other tongues to
pronounce his eulogy. What I have now to say shall be brief――very brief.

Mr. President, it is now less than three short years ago since I first
entered this body. At that period it numbered among its members many of
the most illustrious statesmen this republic has ever produced, or the
world has ever known. Of the living, it is not my purpose to speak; but
in that brief period, death has been busy here; and, as if to mark the
feebleness of human things, his arrows have been aimed at the highest,
the mightiest of us all. First, died Calhoun. And well, sir, do I
remember the deep feeling evinced on that occasion by him whose death
has been announced here to-day, when he said: “I was his senior in
years――nothing else. In the course of nature I ought to have preceded
him. It has been decreed otherwise; but I know that I shall linger here
only a short time, and shall soon follow him.” It was genius mourning
over his younger brother, and too surely predicting his own approaching

He, too, is now gone from among us, and left none like him behind.
That voice, whose every tone was music, is hushed and still. That
clear, bright eye is dim and lustreless, and that breast, where grew
and flourished every quality which could adorn and dignify our nature,
is cold as the clod that soon must cover it. A few hours have wrought
a mighty change――a change for which a lingering illness had, indeed, in
some degree, prepared us; but which, nevertheless, will still fall upon
the nation with crushing force. Many a sorrowing heart is now asking,
as I did yesterday, when I heard the first sound of the funeral bell――

         “And is he gone?――the pure of the purest,
          The hand that upheld our bright banner the surest,
            Is he gone from our struggles away?
          But yesterday lending a people new life,
            Cold, mute, in the coffin to-day.”

Mr. President, this is an occasion when eulogy must fail to perform
its office. The long life which is now ended is a history of glorious
deeds too mighty for the tongue of praise. It is in the hearts of
his countrymen that his best epitaph must be written. It is in the
admiration of a world that his renown must be recorded. In that deep
love of country which distinguished every period of his life, he may
not have been unrivalled. In loftiness of intellect, he was not without
his peers. The skill with which he touched every chord of the human
heart may have been equalled. The iron will, the unbending firmness,
the fearless courage, which marked his character, may have been shared
by others. But where shall we go to find all these qualities united,
concentrated, blended into one brilliant whole, and shedding a lustre
upon one single head, which does not dazzle the beholder only because
it attracts his love and demands his worship?

I scarcely know, sir, how far it may be allowable, upon an occasion
like this, to refer to party struggles which have left wounds not yet
entirely healed. I will venture, however, to suggest, that it should
be a source of consolation to his friends that he lived long enough
to see the full accomplishment of the last great work of his life,
and to witness the total disappearance of that sectional tempest
which threatened to whelm the republic in ruins. Both the great
parties of the country have agreed to stand upon the platform which he
erected, and both of them have solemnly pledged themselves to maintain
unimpaired the work of his hands. I doubt not the knowledge of this
cheered him in his dying moments, and helped to steal away the pangs
of dissolution.

Mr. President, if I knew any thing more that I could say, I would
gladly utter it. To me, he was something more than kind, and I am
called upon to mingle a private with the public grief. I wish that
I could do something to add to his fame. But he built for himself a
monument of immortality, and left to his friends no task but that of
soothing their own sorrow for his loss. We pay to him the tribute of
our tears. More we have no power to bestow. Patriotism, honour, genius,
courage, have all come to strew their garlands about his tomb; and well
they may, for he was the peer of them all.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. COOPER.――Mr. President: It is not always by words that the living
pay to the dead the sincerest and most eloquent tribute. The tears of
a nation, flowing spontaneously over the grave of a public benefactor,
is a more eloquent testimonial of his worth and of the affection and
veneration of his countrymen, than the most highly-wrought eulogium of
the most gifted tongue. The heart is not necessarily the fountain of
words, but it is always the source of tears, whether of joy, gratitude,
or grief. But sincere, truthful, and eloquent, as they are, they leave
no permanent record of the virtues and greatness of him on whose tomb
they are shed. As the dews of heaven falling at night are absorbed by
the earth, or dried up by the morning sun, so the tears of a people,
shed for their benefactor, disappear without leaving a trace to tell to
future generations of the services, sacrifices, and virtues of him to
whose memory they were a grateful tribute. But as homage paid to virtue
is an incentive to it, it is right that the memory of the good, the
great, and noble of the earth should be preserved and honored.

The ambition, Mr. President, of the truly great, is more the
hope of living in the memory and estimation of future ages than
of possessing power in their own. It is this hope that stimulates
them to perseverance; that enables them to encounter disappointment,
ingratitude, and neglect, and to press on through toils, privations,
and perils to the end. It was not the hope of discovering a world, over
which he should himself exercise dominion, that sustained Columbus in
all his trials. It was not for this he braved danger, disappointment,
poverty, and reproach. It was not for this he subdued his native pride,
wandered from kingdom to kingdom, kneeling at the feet of princes, a
suppliant for means to prosecute his sublime enterprise. It was not
for this, after having at last secured the patronage of Isabella, that
he put off in his crazy and ill-appointed fleet into unknown seas, to
struggle with storms and tempests, and the rage of a mutinous crew. It
was another and nobler kind of ambition that stimulated him to contend
with terror, superstition, and despair, and to press forward on his
perilous course, when the needle in his compass, losing its polarity,
seemed to unite with the fury of the elements and the insubordination
of his crew in turning him back from his perilous but glorious
undertaking. It was the hope which was realized at last, when his
ungrateful country was compelled to inscribe, as an epitaph on his
tomb, ‘Columbus has given a New World to the Kingdoms of Castile and
Leon,’ that enabled him, at first, to brave so many disappointments,
and at last, to conquer the multitude of perils that beset his pathway
on the deep. This, sir, is the ambition of the truly great――not to
achieve present fame, but future immortality. This being the case, it
is befitting here to-day to add to the life of Henry Clay the record
of his death, signalized as it is by a nation’s gratitude and grief. It
is right that posterity should learn from us, the contemporaries of the
illustrious deceased, that his virtues and services were appreciated by
his country, and acknowledged by the tears of his countrymen poured out
upon his grave.

The career of Henry Clay was a wonderful one. And what an illustration
of the excellence of our institutions would a retrospect of his life
afford! Born in an humble station, ♦without any of the adventitious
aids of fortune by which the obstructions on the road to fame are
smoothed, he rose not only to the most exalted eminence of position,
but likewise to the highest place in the affections of his countrymen.
Taking into view the disadvantages of his early position, disadvantages
against which he had always to contend, his career is without a
parallel in the history of great men. To have seen him a youth, without
friends or fortune, and with but a scanty education, who would have
ventured to predict for him a course so brilliant and beneficent, and
a fame so well deserved and enduring? Like the pine, which sometimes
springs up amidst the rocks on the mountain side, with scarce a
crevice in which to fix its roots, or soil to nourish them, but which,
nevertheless, overtops all the trees of the surrounding forest, Henry
Clay, by his own inherent, self-sustaining energy and genius, rose to
an altitude of fame almost unequalled in the age in which he lived.
As an orator, legislator, and statesman, he had no superior. All his
faculties were remarkable, and in remarkable combination. Possessed
of a brilliant genius and fertile imagination, his judgment was sound,
discriminating, and eminently practical. Of an ardent and impetuous
temperament, he was nevertheless persevering and firm of purpose.
Frank, bold, and intrepid, he was cautious in providing against the
contingencies and obstacles which might possibly rise up in the road to
success. Generous, liberal, and entertaining broad and expanded views
of national policy, in his legislative course he never transcended the
limits of a wise economy.

But, Mr. President, of all his faculties, that of making friends and
attaching them to him was the most remarkable and extraordinary. In
this respect, he seemed to possess a sort of fascination, by which all
who came into his presence were attracted towards, and bound to him
by ties which neither time nor circumstances had power to dissolve or
weaken. In the admiration of his friends was the recognition of the
divinity of intellect; in their attachment to him a confession of his
generous personal qualities and social virtues.

Of the public services of Mr. Clay, the present occasion affords no
room for a sketch more extended than that which his respected colleague
[Mr. Underwood] has presented. It is, however, sufficient to say, that
for more forty years he has been a prominent actor in the drama of
American affairs. During the late war with England, his voice was more
potent than any other in awakening the spirit of the country, infusing
confidence into the people, and rendering available the resources for
carrying on the contest. In our domestic controversies, threatening
the peace of the country and the integrity of the Union, he has always
been first to note danger, as well as to suggest the means of averting
it. When the waters of the great political deep were upheaved by
the tempest of discord, and the ark of the Union, freighted with the
hopes and destinies of freedom, tossing about on the raging billows,
and drifting every moment nearer to the vortex which threatened to
swallow it up, it was his clarion voice, rising above the storm, that
admonished the crew of impending peril, and counselled the way to

But, Mr. President, devotedly as he loved his country, his aspirations
were not limited to its welfare alone. Wherever freedom had a votary,
that votary had a friend in Henry Clay; and in the struggle of the
Spanish colonies for independence he uttered words of encouragement
which have become the mottoes on the banners of freedom in every land.
But neither the services which he has rendered his own country, nor
his wishes for the welfare of others, nor his genius, nor the affection
of friends, could turn aside the destroyer. No price could purchase
exemption from the common lot of humanity. Henry Clay, the wise, the
great, the gifted, had to die; and his history is summed up in the
biography which the Russian poet has prepared for all, kings and serfs:

        * * * * ‘Born, living, dying,
          Quitting the still shore for the troubled wave,
        Struggling with storm-clouds, over shipwrecks flying,
          And casting anchor in the silent grave.’

But though time would not spare him, there is still this of consolation:
he died peacefully and happy, ripe in renown, full of years and of
honours, and rich in the affections of his country. He had, too, the
unspeakable satisfaction of closing his eyes whilst the country he had
loved so much and served so well was still in the enjoyment of peace,
happiness, union, and prosperity――still advancing in all the elements
of wealth, greatness, and power.

I know, Mr. President, how unequal I have been to the apparently
self-imposed task of presenting, in an appropriate manner, the merits
of the illustrious deceased. But if I had remained silent on an
occasion like this, when the hearts of my constituents are swelling
with grief, I would have been disowned by them. It is for this
reason――that of giving utterance to their feelings as well as of my
own――that I have trespassed on the time of the senate. I would that
I could have spoken fitter words; but such as they are, they were
uttered by the tongue in response to the promptings of the heart.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. SEWARD.――Mr. President: Fifty years ago, Henry Clay, of Virginia,
already adopted by Kentucky, then as youthful as himself, entered
the service of his country, a representative in the unpretending
legislature of that rising state; and having thenceforward, with ardor
and constancy, pursued the gradual paths of an aspiring change through
halls of congress, foreign courts and executive councils, he has now,
with the cheerfulness of a patriot, and the serenity of a Christian,
fitly closed his long and arduous career, here in the senate, in the
full presence of the republic, looking down upon the scene with anxiety
and alarm, not merely a senator, like one of us who yet remain in
the senate-house, but filling that character which, though it had no
authority of law, and was assigned without suffrage, Augustus Cæsar
nevertheless declared was above the title of Emperor, _Primus inter
Illustres_――the Prince of the Senate.

Generals are tried, Mr. President, by examining the campaigns they
have lost or won, and statesmen by reviewing the transactions in which
they have been engaged. Hamilton would have been unknown to us, had
there been no constitution to be created; as Brutus would have died in
obscurity, had there been no Cæsar to be slain.

Colonization, Revolution, and Organization――three great acts in the
drama of our National Progress――had already passed when the Western
Patriot appeared on the public stage. He entered in that next division
of the majestic scenes which was marked by an inevitable rëaction of
political forces, a wild strife of factions and ruinous embarrassments
in our foreign relations. This transition stage is always more perilous
than any other in the career of nations, and especially in the career
of Republics. It proved fatal to the Commonwealth in England. Scarcely
any of the Spanish-American states have yet emerged from it; and more
than once it has been sadly signalized by the ruin of the republican
cause in France.

The continuous administration of Washington and John Adams had closed
under a cloud which had thrown a broad, dark shadow over the future;
the nation was deeply indebted at home and abroad, and its credit was
prostrate. The revolutionary factions had given place to two inveterate
parties, divided by a gulf which had been worn by the conflict in
which the Constitution was adopted, and made broader and deeper by
a war of prejudices concerning the merits of the belligerents in
the great European struggle that then convulsed the civilized world.
Our extraordinary political system was little more than an ingenious
theory, not yet practically established. The union of the states was
as yet only one of compact; for the political, social, and commercial
necessities to which it was so marvelously adapted, and which,
clustering thickly upon it, now render it indissoluble, had not
then been broadly disclosed, nor had the habits of acquiescence and
the sentiments of loyalty, always slow of growth, fully ripened. The
bark that had gone to sea, thus unfurnished and untried, seemed quite
certain to founder by reason of its own inherent frailty, even if
it should escape unharmed in the great conflict of nations which
acknowledged no claims of justice and tolerated no pretensions of
neutrality. Moreover, the territory possessed by the nation was
inadequate to commercial exigencies and indispensable social expansion;
and yet no provision had been made for enlargement, nor for extending
the political system over distant regions, inhabited or otherwise,
which must inevitably be acquired. Nor could any such acquisition be
made, without disturbing the carefully-adjusted balance of powers among
the members of the confederacy.

These difficulties, Mr. President, although they grew less with
time and by slow degrees, continued throughout the whole life of the
statesman whose obsequies we are celebrating. Be it known, then, and
I am sure that history will confirm the instruction, that conservatism
was the interest of the nation, and the responsibility of its rulers,
during the period in which he flourished. He was ardent, bold, generous,
and even ambitious; and yet, with a profound conviction of the true
exigencies of the country, like Alexander Hamilton, he disciplined
himself and trained a restless nation, that knew only self-control, to
the rigorous practice of that often humiliating conservatism which its
welfare and security in that particular crisis so imperiously demanded.

It could not happen, sir, to any citizen to have acted alone, nor even
to have acted always the most conspicuous part in a trying period so
long protracted. Henry Clay, therefore, shared the responsibilities of
government with not only his proper contemporaries, but also survivors
of the Revolution, as well as also many who will succeed himself.
Delicacy forbids the naming of those who retain their places here, but
we may without impropriety recall among his compeers a senator of vast
resources and inflexible resolve, who has recently withdrawn from this
chamber, but I trust not altogether from public life, (Mr. Benton);
and another, who, surpassing all his contemporaries within his country,
and even throughout the world, in proper eloquence of the forum, now in
autumnal years for a second time dignifies and adorns the highest seat
in the executive council, (Mr. Webster.) Passing by these eminent and
noble men, the shades of Calhoun, John Quincy Adams, Jackson, Monroe,
and Jefferson, rise up before us――statesmen whose living and local fame
  has ripened already into historical and world-wide renown.

Among geniuses so lofty as these, Henry Clay bore a part in regulating
the constitutional freedom of political debate; establishing that
long-contested and most important line which divides the sovereignty
of the several states from that of the states confederated; asserting
the right of neutrality, and vindicating it by a war against Great
Britain, when that just but extreme measure became necessary; adjusting
the terms on which that perilous yet honorable contest was brought to
a peaceful close; perfecting the army and the navy, and the national
fortifications; settling the fiscal and financial policy of the
government in more than one crisis of apparently threatened revolution;
asserting and calling into exercise the powers of the government
for making and improving internal communications between the states;
arousing and encouraging the Spanish-American colonies on this
continent to throw off the foreign yoke, and to organize governments
on principles congenial to our own, and thus creating external
bulwarks for our own national defence; establishing equal and impartial
peace and amity with all existing maritime powers; and extending the
constitutional organization of government over all the vast regions
secured in his lifetime by purchase or by conquest, whereby the pillars
of the republic have been removed from the banks of the St. Mary to
the borders of the Rio Grande, and from the margin of the Mississippi
to the Pacific coast. We may not yet discuss here the wisdom of the
several measures which have thus passed in review before us, nor of the
positions which the deceased statesman assumed in regard to them, but
we may without offence dwell upon the comprehensive results of them all.

The Union exists in absolute integrity, and the republican system is
in complete and triumphant development. Without having relinquished any
part of their individuality, the states have more than doubled already,
and are increasing in numbers and political strength and expansion more
rapidly than ever before. Without having absorbed any state, or having
even encroached on any state, the Confederation has opened itself so
as to embrace all the new members who have come, and now, with capacity
for further and indefinite enlargements, has become fixed, enduring,
and perpetual. Although it was doubted only half a century ago whether
our political system could be maintained at all, and whether, if
maintained, it could guarantee the peace and happiness of society, it
stands now confessed by the world the form of government not only most
adapted to Empire, but also most congenial with the constitution of
Human Nature.

When we consider that the nation has been conducted to this haven,
not only through stormy seas, but altogether, also, without a course
and without a star; and when we consider, moreover, the sum of
happiness that has already been enjoyed by the American people, and
still more the influence which the great achievement is exerting for
the advancement and melioration of the condition of mankind, we see at
once that it might have satisfied the highest ambition to have been,
no matter how humbly, concerned in so great transaction.

Certainly, sir, no one will assert that Henry Clay in that transaction
performed an obscure or even a common part. On the contrary, from
the day on which he entered the public service until that on which
he passed the gates of death, he was never a follower, but always a
leader; and he marshalled either the party which sustained or that
which resisted every great measure, equally in the senate and among the
people. He led where duty seemed to him to indicate, reckless whether
he encountered one president or twenty presidents, whether he was
opposed by factions or even by the whole people. Hence it has happened,
that although that people are not yet agreed among themselves on the
wisdom of all, or perhaps of even any of his great measures, yet they
are nevertheless unanimous in acknowledging that he was at once the
greatest, the most faithful, and the most reliable of their statesmen.
Here the effort at discriminating praise of Henry Clay, in regard to
his public policy, must stop in this place, even on this sad occasion
which awakens the ardent liberality of his generous survivors.

But his personal qualities may be discussed without apprehension. What
were the elements of the success of that extraordinary man? You, sir,
knew him longer and better than I, and I would prefer to hear you speak
of them. He was indeed eloquent――all the world knows that. He held the
keys to the hearts of his countrymen, and he turned the wards within
them with a skill attained by no other master.

But eloquence was nevertheless only an instrument, and one of many that
he used. His conversation, his gesture, his very look, was persuasive,
seductive, irresistible. And his appliance of all these was courteous,
patient and indefatigable. Defeat only inspired him with new resolution.
He divided opposition by his assiduity of address, while he rallied and
strengthened his own bands of supporters by the confidence of success
which, feeling himself, he easily inspired among his followers. His
affections were high, and pure, and generous, and the chiefest among
them was that which the great Italian poet designated as the charity of
native land. And in him that charity was an enduring and overpowering
enthusiasm, and it influenced all his sentiments and conduct, rendering
him more impartial between conflicting interests and sections than
any other statesman who has lived since the Revolution. Thus with very
great versatility of talent and the most catholic equality of favor,
he identified every question, whether of domestic administration or
foreign policy, with his own great name, and so became a perpetual
Tribune of the people. He needed only to pronounce in favor of a
measure or against it, here, and immediately popular enthusiasm,
excited as by a magic wand, was felt, overcoming all opposition in
the senate chamber.

In this way he wrought a change in our political system, that I think
was not foreseen by its founders. He converted this branch of the
legislature from a negative position, or one of equilibrium between
the executive and the house of representatives, into the active ruling
power of the republic. Only time can disclose whether this great
innovation shall be beneficent, or even permanent.

Certainly, sir, the great lights of the senate have set. The
obscuration is not less palpable to the country than to us, who are
left to grope our uncertain way here, as in a labyrinth, oppressed
with self-distrust. The times, too, present new embarrassments. We are
rising to another and a more sublime stage of natural progress,――that
of expanding wealth and rapid territorial aggrandizement. Our
institutions throw a broad shadow across the St. Lawrence, and,
stretching beyond the valley of Mexico, it reaches even to the plains
of Central America; while the Sandwich Islands and the shores of China
recognise its renovating influence. Wherever that influence is felt, a
desire for protection under those institutions is awakened. Expansion
seems to be regulated, not by any difficulties of resistance, but by
the moderation which results from our own internal constitution. No one
knows how rapidly that restraint may give way. Who can tell how far or
how fast it ought to yield? Commerce has brought the ancient continents
near to us, and created necessities for new positions――perhaps
connections or colonies there――and with the trade and friendship of the
elder nations, their conflicts and collisions are brought to our doors
and to our hearts. Our sympathy kindles, our indifference extinguishes
the fire of freedom in foreign lands. Before we shall be fully
conscious that a change is going on in Europe, we may find ourselves
once more divided by that eternal line of separation that leaves on
the one side those of our citizens who obey the impulses of sympathy,
while on the other are found those who submit only to the counsels of
prudence. Even prudence will soon be required to decide whether distant
regions, East and West, shall come under our own protection, or be left
to aggrandize a rapidly spreading and hostile domain of despotism.

Sir, who among us is equal to these mighty questions? I fear there
is no one. Nevertheless, the example of Henry Clay remains for our
instruction. His genius has passed to the realms of light, but his
virtues still live here for our emulation. With them there will remain
also the protection and favor of the Most High, if by the practice of
justice and the maintenance of freedom we shall deserve it. Let, then,
the bier pass on. With sorrow, but not without hope, we will follow the
revered form that it bears to its final resting place; and then, when
that grave opens at our feet to receive such an inestimable treasure,
we will invoke the God of our fathers to send us new guides, like him
that is now withdrawn, and give us wisdom to obey their instructions.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. JONES, of Iowa.――Mr. President: Of the vast number who mourn
the departure of the great man whose voice has so often been heard
in this hall, I have peculiar cause to regret that dispensation which
has removed him from among us. He was the guardian and director of
my collegiate days; four of his sons were my collegemates and my warm
friends. My intercourse with the father was that of a youth and a
friendly adviser. I shall never cease to feel grateful to him――to his
now heart-stricken and bereaved widow and children, for their many
kindnesses to me during four or five years of my life. I had the
pleasure of renewing my acquaintance with him, first, as a delegate
in congress, while he was a member of this body from 1835 to 1839,
and again in 1848, as a member of this branch of congress; and during
the whole of which period, some eight years, none but the most kindly
feeling existed between us.

As an humble and unimportant senator, it was my fortune to coöperate
with him throughout the whole of the exciting session of 1849–’50――the
labor and excitement of which is said to have precipitated his decease.
That coöperation did not end with the accordant vote on this floor, but,
in consequence of the ♦unyielding opposition to the series of measures
known as the ‘compromise,’ extended to many private meetings held
by its friends, at all of which Mr. Clay was present. And whether in
public or private life, he every where continued to inspire me with the
most exalted estimate of his patriotism and statesmanship. Never shall
I forget the many ardent appeals he made to senators, in and out of
the senate, in favor of the settlement of our then unhappy sectional

Immediately after the close of that memorable session of congress,
during which the nation beheld his great and almost superhuman efforts
upon this floor to sustain the wise counsels of the ‘Father of his
Country,’ I accompanied him home to Ashland, at his invitation, to
revisit the place where my happiest days had been spent, with the
friends who there continued to reside. During that, to me, most
agreeable and instructive journey, in many conversations he evinced
the utmost solicitude for the welfare and honor of the republic, all
tending to show that he believed the happiness of the people and the
cause of liberty throughout the world depended upon the continuance of
our glorious Union, and the avoidance of those sectional dissensions
which could but alienate the affections of one portion of the people
from another. With the sincerity and fervor of a true patriot, he
warned his companions in that journey to withhold all aid from men
who labored, and from every cause which tended, to sow the seeds of
disunion in the land; and to oppose such, he declared himself willing
to forego all the ties and associations of mere party.

At a subsequent period, sir, this friend of my youth, at my earnest
and repeated entreaties, consented to take a sea voyage from New
York to Havana. He remained at the latter place a fortnight, and then
returned by New Orleans to Ashland. That excursion by sea, he assured
me, contributed much to relieve him from the sufferings occasioned by
the disease which has just terminated his eventful and glorious life.
Would to Heaven that he could have been persuaded to abandon his duties
as a senator, and to have remained during the past winter and spring
upon that island of Cuba! The country would not now, perhaps, have been
called to mourn his loss.

In some matters of policy connected with the administration of our
general government, I have disagreed with him, yet the purity and
sincerity of his motives I never doubted; and as a true lover of his
country, as an honorable and honest man, I trust his example will
be reverenced and followed by the men of this, and of succeeding

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. BROOKE.――Mr. President: As an ardent, personal admirer and
political friend of the distinguished dead, I claim the privilege of
adding my humble tribute of respect to his memory, and of joining in
the general expression of sorrow that has gone forth from this chamber.
Death, at all times, is an instructive monitor as well as a mournful
messenger; but when his fatal shaft hath stricken down the great in
intellect and renown, how doubly impressive the lesson that it brings
home to the heart that the grave is the common lot of all――the great
leveller of all earthly distinctions! But at the same time we are
taught that in one sense the good and great can never die; for the
memory of their virtues and their bright example will live through
all coming time in an immortality that blooms beyond the grave. The
consolation of this thought may calm our sorrow; and, in the language
of one of our own poets, it may be asked:

     ‘Why weep ye, then, for him, who having run
        The bound of man’s appointed years, at last,
      Life’s blessings all enjoyed, life’s labors done,
        Serenely to his final rest has pass’d;
      While the soft memory of his virtues yet
      Lingers, like twilight hues when the bright sun has set?’

It will be doing no injustice, sir, to the living or the dead to say,
that no better specimen of the true American character can be found in
our history than that of Mr. Clay. With no adventitious advantages of
birth or fortune, he won his way by the efforts of his own genius to
the highest distinction and honour. Ardently attached to the principles
of civil and religious liberty, patriotism was with him both a passion
and a sentiment――a passion that gave energy to his ambition, and a
sentiment that pervaded all his thoughts and actions, concentrating
them upon his country as the idol of his heart. The bold and manly
frankness in the expression of his opinions which always characterized
him, has often been the subject of remark; and in all his victories
it may be truly said he never ‘stooped to conquer.’ In his long and
brilliant political career, personal considerations never for a single
instant caused him to swerve from the strict line of duty, and none
have ever doubted his deep sincerity in that memorable expression to
Mr. Preston, ‘Sir, I had rather be right than be President.’

This is not the time nor occasion, sir, to enter into a detail of the
public services of Mr. Clay, interwoven as they are with the history
of the country for half a century; but I cannot refrain from adverting
to the last crowning act of his glorious life――his great effort in the
thirty-first congress for the preservation of the peace and integrity
of this great republic, as it was this effort that shattered his bodily
strength, and hastened the consummation of death. The Union of the
states, as being essential to our prosperity and happiness, was the
paramount proposition in his political creed, and the slightest symptom
of danger to its perpetuity filled him with alarm, and called forth
all the energies of his body and mind. In his earlier life he had met
this danger and overcome it. In the conflict of contending factions
it again appeared; and coming forth from the repose of private life,
to which age and infirmity had carried him, with unabated strength of
intellect, he again entered upon the arena of political strife, and
again success crowned his efforts, and peace and harmony were restored
to a distracted people. But, unequal to the mighty struggle, his bodily
strength sank beneath it, and he retired from the field of his glory
to yield up his life as a holy sacrifice to his beloved country. It
has well been said that peace has its victories as well as war; and
how bright upon the page of history will be the record of this great
victory of intellect, of reason, and of moral suasion, over the spirit
of discord and sectional animosities!

We this day, Mr. President, commit his memory to the regard and
affection of his admiring countrymen. It is a consolation to them and
to us to know that he died in full possession of his glorious intellect,
and, what is better, in the enjoyment of that ‘peace which the world
can neither give nor take away.’ He sank to rest as the full-orbed king
of day, unshorn of a single beam, or rather like the planet of morning,
his brightness was but eclipsed by the opening to him of a more full
and perfect day――

         ‘No waning of fire, no paling of ray,
          But rising, still rising, as passing away.
          Farewell, gallant eagle, thou’rt buried in light――
          God speed thee to heaven, lost star of our night.’

The resolutions submitted by Mr. Underwood, were then unanimously
agreed to.

  _Ordered_, That the secretary communicate these resolutions to
  the House of Representatives.

On motion by Mr. Underwood,

  _Resolved_, That, as an additional mark of respect to the memory
  of the deceased, the senate do now adjourn.

                   *       *       *       *       *

               HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, JUNE 30, 1852.

THE journal of yesterday having been read, a message was received
from the senate, by Asbury Dickins, Esq., its secretary, communicating
information of the death of Henry Clay, late senator from the state of
Kentucky, and the proceedings of the senate thereon. The resolutions of
the senate having been read,

Mr. ♦BRECKENRIDGE then rose and said: Mr. Speaker, I rise to perform
the melancholy duty of announcing to this body the death of Henry Clay,
late a senator in congress from the commonwealth of Kentucky.

Mr. Clay expired at his lodgings in this city yesterday morning, at
seventeen minutes past eleven o’clock, in the seventy-sixth year of his
age. His noble intellect was unclouded to the last. After protracted
sufferings, he passed away without pain; and so gently did the spirit
leave his frame, that the moment of departure was not observed by the
friends who watched at his bedside. His last hours were cheered by the
presence of an affectionate son; and he died surrounded by friends who,
during his long illness, had done all that affection could suggest to
soothe his sufferings.

Although this sad event has been expected for many weeks, the shock
it produced, and the innumerable tributes of respect to his memory
exhibited on every side, and in every form, prove the depth of the
public sorrow, and the greatness of the public loss.

Imperishably associated as his name has been for fifty years with every
great event affecting the fortunes of our country, it is difficult to
realize that he is indeed gone for ever. It is difficult to feel that
we shall see no more his noble form within these walls――that we shall
hear no more his patriot tones, now rousing his countrymen to vindicate
their rights against a foreign foe, now imploring them to preserve
concord among themselves. We shall see him no more. The memory and the
fruits of his services alone remain to us. Amidst the general gloom,
the Capitol itself looks desolate, as if the genius of the place had
departed. Already the intelligence has reached almost every quarter
of the republic, and a great people mourn with us, to-day, the death
of their most illustrious citizen. Sympathizing, as we do, deeply,
with his family and friends, yet private affliction is absorbed in the
general sorrow. The spectacle of a whole community lamenting the loss
of a great man, is far more touching than any manifestation of private
grief. In speaking of a loss which is national, I will not attempt to
describe the universal burst of grief with which Kentucky will receive
these tidings. The attempt would be vain to depict the gloom that will
cover her people, when they know that the pillar of fire is removed,
which has guided their footsteps for the life of a generation.

It is known to the country, that from the memorable session of
1849–’50, Mr. Clay’s health gradually declined. Although several years
of his senatorial term remained, he did not propose to continue in the
public service longer than the present session. He came to Washington
chiefly to defend, if it should become necessary, the measures of
adjustment, to the adoption of which he so largely contributed; but the
condition of his health did not allow him, at any time, to participate
in the discussions of the senate. Through the winter, he was confined
almost wholly to his room, with slight changes in his condition, but
gradually losing the remnant of his strength. Through the long and
dreary winter, he conversed much and cheerfully with his friends, and
expressed a deep interest in public affairs. Although he did not expect
a restoration to health, he cherished the hope that the mild season of
spring would bring to him strength enough to return to Ashland, and die
in the bosom of his family. But, alas! spring, that brings life to all
nature, brought no life nor hope to him. After the month of March, his
vital powers rapidly wasted, and for weeks he lay patiently awaiting
the stroke of death. But the approach of the destroyer had no terrors
for him. No clouds overhung his future. He met the end with composure,
and his pathway to the grave was brightened by the immortal hopes which
spring from the Christian faith.

Not long before his death, having just returned from Kentucky, I bore
to him a token of affection from his excellent wife. Never can I forget
his appearance, his manner, or his words. After speaking of his family,
his friends, and his country, he changed the conversation to his own
future; and looking on me with his fine eye undimmed, and his voice
full of its original compass and melody, he said, ‘I am not afraid to
die, sir. I have hope, faith, and some confidence. I do not think any
man can be entirely certain in regard to his future state, but I have
an abiding trust in the merits and mediation of our Saviour.’ It will
assuage the grief of his family to know that he looked hopefully beyond
the tomb, and a Christian people will rejoice to hear that such a man,
in his last hours, reposed with simplicity and confidence upon the
promises of the gospel.

It is the custom, on occasions like this, to speak of the parentage
and childhood of the deceased, and to follow him, step by step,
through life. I will not attempt to relate even all the great events
of Mr. Clay’s life, because they are familiar to the whole country, and
it would be needless to enumerate a long list of public services which
form a part of American history.

Beginning life as a friendless boy, with few advantages, save those
conferred by nature, while yet a minor, he left Virginia, the state of
his birth, and commenced the practice of law at Lexington, in Kentucky.
At a bar remarkable for its numbers and talent, Mr. Clay soon rose
to the first rank. At a very early age he was elected from the county
of Fayette to the general assembly of Kentucky, and was the speaker
of that body. Coming into the senate of the United States, for the
first time, in 1806, he entered upon a parliamentary career, the most
brilliant and successful in our annals. From that time he remained
habitually in the public eye. As a senator, as a member of this house
and its speaker, as a representative of his country abroad, and as
a high officer in the executive department of the government, he
was intimately connected for fifty years with every great measure of
American policy. Of the mere party measures of this period, I do not
propose to speak. Many of them have passed away, and are remembered
only as the occasions for the great intellectual efforts which marked
their discussion. Concerning others, opinions are still divided. They
will go into history, with the reasons on either side rendered by the
greatest intellects of the time.

As a leader in a deliberative body, Mr. Clay had no equal in America.
In him, intellect, person, eloquence, and courage, united to form
a character fit to command. He fired with his own enthusiasm, and
controlled by his amazing will, individuals and masses. No reverse
could crush his spirit, nor defeat reduce him to despair. Equally erect
and dauntless in prosperity and adversity, when successful, he moved
to the accomplishment of his purposes with severe resolution; when
defeated, he rallied his broken bands around him, and from his eagle
eye shot along their ranks the contagion of his own courage. Destined
for a leader, he every where asserted his destiny. In his long and
eventful life he came in contact with men of all ranks and professions,
but he never felt that he was in the presence of a man superior
to himself. In the assemblies of the people, at the bar, in the
senate――every where within the circle of his personal presence, he
assumed and maintained a position of preeminence.

But the supremacy of Mr. Clay, as a party leader, was not his only, nor
his highest title to renown. That title is to be found in the purely
patriotic spirit which, on great occasions, always signalized his
conduct. We have had no statesman, who, in periods of real and imminent
public peril, has exhibited a more genuine and enlarged patriotism than
Henry Clay. Whenever a question presented itself actually threatening
the existence of the union, Mr. Clay, rising above the passions of the
hour, always exerted his powers to solve it peacefully and honorably.
Although more liable than most men, from his impetuous and ardent
nature, to feel strongly the passions common to us all, it was his rare
faculty to be able to subdue them in a great crisis, and to hold toward
all sections of the confederacy the language of concord and brotherhood.

Sir, it will be a proud pleasure to every true American heart to
remember the great occasions when Mr. Clay has displayed a sublime
patriotism――when the ill-temper engendered by the times, and the
miserable jealousies of the day, seemed to have been driven from his
bosom by the expulsive power of nobler feelings――when every throb
of his heart was given to his country, every effort of his intellect
dedicated to her service. Who does not remember the three periods when
the American system of government was exposed to its severest trials;
and who does not know that when history shall relate the struggle which
preceded, and the dangers which were averted by the Missouri compromise,
the tariff compromise of 1832, and the adjustment of 1850, the same
pages will record the genius, the eloquence, and the patriotism of
Henry Clay?

Nor was it in Mr. Clay’s nature to lag behind until measures of
adjustment were matured, and then come forward to swell a majority. On
the contrary, like a bold and real statesman, he was ever among the
first to meet the peril, and hazard his fame upon the remedy. It is
fresh in the memory of us all that, when lately the fury of sectional
discord threatened to sever the confederacy, Mr. Clay, though withdrawn
from public life, and oppressed by the burden of years, came back to
the senate――the theatre of his glory――and devoted the remnant of his
strength to the sacred duty of preserving the union of the states.

With characteristic courage he took the lead in proposing a scheme
of settlement. But while he was willing to assume the responsibility
of proposing a plan, he did not, with petty ambition, insist upon its
adoption to the exclusion of other modes; but, taking his own as a
starting point for discussion and practical action, he nobly labored
with his compatriots to change and improve it in such form as to make
it an acceptable adjustment. Throughout the long and arduous struggle,
the love of country expelled from his bosom the spirit of selfishness,
and Mr. Clay proved, for the third time, that though he was ambitious
and loved glory, he had no ambition to mount to fame on the confusions
of his country. And this conviction is lodged in the hearts of the
people; the party measures and the party passions of former times have
not, for several years, interposed between Mr. Clay and the masses
of his countrymen. After 1850, he seemed to feel that his mission was
accomplished; and, during the same period, the regards and affections
of the American people have been attracted to him in a remarkable
degree. For many months, the warmest feelings, the deepest anxieties of
all parties, centered upon the dying statesman; the glory of his great
actions shed a mellow lustre on his declining years; and to fill the
measure of his fame, his countrymen, weaving for him the laurel wreath,
with common hands, did bind it about his venerable brows, and send him,
crowned, to history.

The life of Mr. Clay, sir, is a striking example of the abiding fame
which surely awaits the direct and candid statesman. The entire absence
of equivocation or disguise, in all his acts, was his master-key to
the popular heart; for while the people will forgive the errors of
a bold and open nature, he sins past forgiveness who deliberately
deceives them. Hence Mr. Clay, though often defeated in his measures
of policy, always secured the respect of his opponents without losing
the confidence of his friends. He never paltered in a double sense. The
country was never in doubt as to his opinions or his purposes. In all
the contests of his time, his position on great public questions was as
clear as the sun in a cloudless sky. Sir, standing by the grave of this
great man, and considering these things, how contemptible does appear
the mere legerdemain of politics! What a reproach is his life on that
false policy which would trifle with a great and upright people! If I
were to write his epitaph, I would inscribe, as the highest eulogy, on
the stone which shall mark his resting-place, ‘Here lies a man who was
in the public service for fifty years, and never attempted to deceive
his countrymen.’

While the youth of America should imitate his noble qualities, they
may take courage from his career, and note the high proof it affords
that, under our equal institutions, the avenues to honor are open to
all. Mr. Clay rose by the force of his own genius, unaided by power,
patronage, or wealth. At an age when our young men are usually advanced
to the higher schools of learning, provided only with the rudiments of
an English education, he turned his steps to the west, and amidst the
rude collisions of a border-life, matured a character whose highest
exhibitions were destined to mark eras in his country’s history.
Beginning on the frontiers of American civilization, the orphan boy,
supported only by the consciousness of his own powers, and by the
confidence of the people, surmounted all the barriers of adverse
fortune, and won a glorious name in the annals of his country. Let
the generous youth, fired with honorable ambition, remember that the
American system of government offers on every hand bounties to merit.
If, like Clay, orphanage, obscurity, poverty, shall oppress him; yet if,
like Clay, he feels the Promethean spark within, let him remember that
his country, like a generous mother, extends her arms to welcome and
to cherish every one of her children whose genius and worth may promote
her prosperity or increase her renown.

Mr. Speaker, the signs of woe around us, and the general voice,
announce that another great man has fallen. Our consolation is that
he was not taken in the vigor of his manhood, but sank into the grave
at the close of a long and illustrious career. The great statesmen who
have filled the largest space in the public eye, one by one are passing
away. Of the three great leaders of the senate, one alone remains,
and he must follow soon. We shall witness no more their intellectual
struggles in the American forum; but the monuments of their genius will
be cherished as the common property of the people, and their names will
continue to confer dignity and renown upon their country.

Not less illustrious than the greatest of these will be the name of
Clay――a name pronounced with pride by Americans in every quarter of the
globe; a name to be remembered while history shall record the struggles
of modern Greece for freedom, or the spirit of liberty burn in the
South American bosom; a living and immortal name――a name that would
descend to posterity without the aid of letters, borne by tradition
from generation to generation. Every memorial of such a man will
possess a meaning and a value to his countrymen. His tomb will be a
hallowed spot. Great memories will cluster there, and his countrymen,
as they visit it, may well exclaim――

               ‘Such graves as his are pilgrim shrines,
                  Shrines to no creed or code confined;
                The Delphian vales, the Palestines,
                  The Meccas of the mind.’

Mr. Speaker, I offer the following resolutions:

  _Resolved_, That the House of Representatives of the United
  States has received with the deepest sensibility, intelligence
  of the death of Henry Clay.

  _Resolved_, That the officers and members of the House of
  Representatives will wear the usual badge of mourning for
  thirty days, as a testimony of the profound respect this house
  entertains for the memory of the deceased.

  _Resolved_, That the officers and members of the House of
  Representatives, in a body, will attend the funeral of Henry
  Clay, on the day appointed for that purpose by the senate of
  the United States.

  _Resolved_, That the proceedings of this house, in relation to
  the death of Henry Clay, be communicated to the family of the
  deceased by the clerk.

  _Resolved_, That as a further mark of respect for the memory of
  the deceased, this house do now adjourn.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. EWING rose, and said: A noble heart has ceased to beat for ever.
A long life of brilliant and self-devoted public service is finished
at last. We now stand at its conclusion, looking back through the
changeful history of that life to its beginning, contemporaneous with
the very birth of the republic, and its varied events mingle, in our
hearts and our memories, with the triumphs and calamities, the weakness
and the power, the adversity and prosperity of a country we love so
much. As we contemplate this sad event, in this place, the shadows of
the past gather over us; the memories of events long gone crowd upon
us, and the shades of departed patriots seem to hover about us, and
wait to receive into their midst the spirit of one who was worthy to
be a cölaborer with them in a common cause, and to share in the rewards
of their virtues. Henceforth he must be to us as one of them.

They say he was ambitious. If so, it was a grievous fault, and
grievously has he answered it. He has found in it naught but
disappointment. It has but served to aggravate the mortification
of his defeats, and furnish an additional lustre to the triumph of
his foes. Those who come after us may――ay, they will――inquire why his
statue stands not among the statues of those whom men thought ablest
and worthiest to govern.

But his ambition was a high and holy feeling, unselfish, magnanimous.
Its aspirations were for his country’s good, and its triumph was his
country’s prosperity. Whether in honour or reproach, in triumph or
defeat, that heart of his never throbbed with one pulsation, save for
her honor and her welfare. Turn to him in that last best deed, and
crowning glory of a life so full of public service and of honor, when
his career of personal ambition was finished for ever. Rejected again
and again by his countrymen; just abandoned by a party which would
scarce have had an existence without his genius, his courage, and his
labors, that great heart, ever firm and defiant to the assaults of
his enemies, but defenceless against the ingratitude of friends,
doubtless wrung with the bitterest mortification of his life――then it
was, and under such circumstances as these, the gathering storm rose
upon his country. All eyes turned to him; all voices called for those
services which, in the hour of prosperity and security, they had so
carelessly rejected. With no misanthropic chagrin; with no morose,
selfish resentment, he forgot all but his country, and that country
endangered. He returns to the scene of his labors and his fame, which
he had thought to have left for ever. A scene――that American senate
chamber――clothed in no gorgeous drapery, shrouded in no superstitious
awe or ancient reverence for hereditary power, but to a reflecting
American mind more full of interest, or dignity, and of grandeur than
any spot on this broad earth, not made holy by religion’s consecrating
seal. See him as he enters there tremblingly, but hopefully, upon the
last, most momentous, perhaps most doubtful conflict of his life. Sir,
many a gay tournament has been more dazzling to the eye of fancy, more
gorgeous and imposing in the display of jewelry and cloth of gold,
in the sound of heralds’ trumpets, in the grand array of princely
beauty and of royal pride. Many a battle-field has trembled beneath a
more ostentatious parade of human power, and its conquerors have been
crowned with laurels, honored with triumphs, and ‘apotheosised’ amid
the demigods of history; but to the thoughtful, hopeful, philanthropic
student of the annals of his race, never was there a conflict in which
such dangers were threatened, such hopes imperiled, or the hero of
which deserved a warmer gratitude, a nobler triumph, or a prouder

Sir, from that long, anxious, and exhausting conflict, he never rose
again. In that last battle for his country’s honor and his country’s
safety, he received the mortal wound which laid him low, and we now
mourn the death of a martyred patriot.

But never, in all the grand drama which the story of his life arrays,
never has he presented a sublimer or a more touching spectacle than
in those last days of his decline and death. Broken with the storms
of state, wounded and scathed in many a fiery conflict, that aged,
worn, and decayed body, in such mournful contrast with the never-dying
strength of his giant spirit, he seemed a proud and sacred, though a
crumbling monument of past glory. Standing among us, like some ancient
colossal ruin amid the degenerate and more diminutive structures
of modern times, its vast proportions magnified by the contrast, he
reminded us of those days when there were giants in the land, and we
remembered that even then there was none whose prowess could withstand
his arm. To watch him in that slow decline, yielding with dignity,
and as it were inch by inch, to that last enemy, as a hero yields to
a conquering foe, the glorious light of his intellect blazing still
in all its wonted brilliancy, and setting at defiance the clouds that
vainly attempted to obscure it, he was more full of interest than in
the day of his glory and his power. There are some men whose brightest
intellectual emanations rise so little superior to the instincts of
the animal, that we are led fearfully to doubt that cherished truth
of the soul’s immortality, which, even in despair, men press to their
doubting hearts. But it is in the death of such a man as he that we are
reassured by the contemplation, of a kindred, though superior spirit,
of a soul which, immortal, like his fame, knows no old age, no decay,
no death.

The wondrous light of his unmatched intellect may have dazzled a world;
the eloquence of that inspired tongue may have enchanted millions, but
there are few who have sounded the depths of that noble heart. To see
him in sickness and in health, in joy and in sadness, in the silent
watches of the night and in the busy day-time――this it was to know and
love him. To see the impetuous torrent of that resistless will; the
hurricane of those passions hushed in peace, breathe calm and gently as
a summer zephyr; to feel the gentle pressure of that hand in the grasp
of friendship which in the rage of fiery conflict would hurl scorn and
defiance at his foe; to see that eagle eye, which oft would burn with
patriotic ardor, or flash with the lightning of his anger, beam with
the kindliest expressions of tenderness and affection――then it was,
and then alone, we could learn to know and feel that that heart was
warmed by the same sacred fire from above which enkindled the light of
his resplendent intellect. In the death of such a man even patriotism
itself might pause, and for a moment stand aloof while friendship shed
a tear of sorrow upon his bier.

           ‘His life was gentle; and the elements
            So mixed in him, that Nature might stand up
            And say to all the world, _This was a man!_’

But who can estimate his country’s loss? What tongue portray the
desolation which in this hour throughout this broad land hangs like
a gloomy pall over his grief-stricken countrymen? How poorly can words
like mine translate the eloquence of a whole people’s grief for a
patriot’s death. For a nation’s loss let a nation mourn. For that
stupendous calamity to our country and mankind, be the heavens hung
with black; let the wailing elements chant his dirge, and the universal
heart of man throb with one common pang of grief and anguish.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. CASKIE said: Mr. Speaker, Unwell as I am, I must try to lay a
single laurel leaf in that open coffin, which is already garlanded
by the eloquent tributes to the illustrious departed, which have been
heard in this now solemn hall; for I come, sir, from the district of
his birth. I represent on this floor that old Hanover so proud of her
Henrys――her Patrick Henry and her Henry Clay. I speak for a people
among whom he has always had as earnest and devoted friends as were
ever the grace and glory of a patriot and statesman.

I shall attempt no sketch of his life. That you have had from other and
abler hands than mine. Till yesterday that life was, of his own free
gift, the property of his country; to-day it belongs to her history. It
is known to all, and will not be forgotten. Constant, stern opponent of
his political school as has been my state, I say for her, that no where
in this broad land are his great qualities more admired, or his death
more mourned, than in Virginia. Well may this be so; for she is his
mother, and he was her son.

Mr. Speaker, when I remember the party strifes in which he was so much
mingled, and through which we all more or less have passed, and then
survey this scene, and think how far, as the lightning has borne the
news that he is gone, half-masted flags are drooping and church-bells
are tolling, and men are sorrowing, I can but feel that it is good
for man to die. For when death enters, O! how the unkindnesses, and
jealousies, and rivalries of life do vanish, and how like incense from
an altar do peace, and friendship, and all the sweet charities of our
nature, rise around the corpse which was once a man! And of a truth,
Mr. Speaker, never was more of veritable noble _manhood_ cased in
mortal mould than was found in him to whose memory this brief and
humble, but true and heartfelt tribute is paid. But his eloquent voice
is hushed, his high heart is stilled. ‘Like a shock of corn fully
ripe, he has been gathered to his fathers.’ With more than three score
years and ten upon him, and honors clustered thick about him, in the
full possession of unclouded intellect, and all the consolations of
Christianity, he has met the fate which is evitable by none. Lamented
by all his countrymen, his name is bright on fame’s immortal roll. He
has finished his course, and he has his crown. What more fruit can life
bear? What can it give that Henry Clay has not gained?

Then, Mr. Speaker, around his tomb should be heard not only the
dirge that wails his loss, but the jubilant anthem which sounds that
on the world’s battle-field another victory has been won――another
_incontestable greatness_ achieved.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. CHANDLER, of Pennsylvania, said: Mr. Speaker, It would seem as
if the solemn invocation of the honorable gentleman from Kentucky
(Mr. EWING) was receiving an early answer, and that the heavens are
hung in black, and the wailing elements are singing the funeral dirge
of Henry Clay. Amid this elemental gloom, and the distress which
pervades the nation at the death of Henry Clay, private grief should
not obtrude itself upon notice, nor personal anguish seek for utterance.
Silence is the best exponent of individual sorrow, and the heart that
knoweth its own bitterness shrinks from an exposition of its affliction.

Could I have consulted my own feelings on the event which occupies
the attention of the house at the present moment, I should even have
forborne attendance here, and in the solitude and silence of my chamber
have mused upon the terrible lesson which has been administered to the
people and the nation. But I represent a constituency who justly pride
themselves upon the unwavering attachment they have ever felt and
manifested to Henry Clay――a constant, pervading, hereditary love. The
son has taken up the father’s affection, and amid all the professions
of political attachments to others, whom the accidents of party have
made prominent, and the success of party has made powerful, true to his
own instincts, and true to the sanctified legacy of his father, he has
placed the name of Henry Clay forward and preëminent as the exponent
of what is greatest in statesmanship and purest in patriotism. And
even, sir, when party fealty caused other attachments to be avowed
for party uses, the preference was limited to the occupancy of office,
and superiority admitted for Clay in all that is reckoned above party

Nor ought I to forbear to add that, as the senior member of the
delegation which represents my commonwealth, I am requested to utter
the sentiments of the people of Pennsylvania at large, who yield to
no portion of this great Union in their appreciation of the talents,
their reverence for the lofty patriotism, their admiration of the
statesmanship, and hereafter their love of the memory of Henry Clay.

I cannot, therefore, be silent on this occasion without injustice
to the affections of my constituency, even though I painfully feel
how inadequate to the reverence and love my people have toward that
statesman must be all that I have to utter on this mournful occasion.

I know not, Mr. Chairman, where now the nation is to find the men
she needs in peril; either other calls than those of politics are
holding in abeyance the talents which the nation may need, or else a
generation is to pass undistinguished by the greatness of our statesmen.
Of the noble minds that have swayed the senate, one yet survives in
the maturity of powerful intellect, carefully disciplined and nobly
exercised. May He who has thus far blessed our nation, spare to her
and the world that of which the world must always envy our country the
possession! But my business is with the dead.

The biography of Henry Clay, from his childhood upward, is too
familiar to every American for me to trespass on the time of this
house by a reference directly thereto; and the honorable gentlemen who
have preceded me have, with affectionate hand and appropriate delicacy,
swept away the dust which nearly fourscore years have scattered over
a part of the record, and have made our pride greater in his life,
and our grief more poignant at his death, by showing some of those
passages which attract respect to our republican institutions, of which
Mr. Clay’s whole life was the able support and the most successful

It would, then, be a work of supererogation for me to renew that
effort, though inquiry into the life and conduct of Henry Clay would
present new themes for private eulogy, new grounds for public gratitude.

How rare is it, Mr. Speaker, that the great man, living, can with
confidence rely on extensive personal friendship, or dying, think to
awaken a sentiment of regret beyond that which includes the public loss
or the disappointment of individual hopes. Yet, sir, the message which
yesterday went forth from this city that Henry Clay was dead, brought
sorrow――personal, private, special sorrow――to the hearts of thousands;
each of whom felt that from his own love for, his long attachment to,
his disinterested hopes in Henry Clay, he had a particular sorrow to
cherish and express, which weighed upon his heart, separate from the
sense of national loss.

No man, Mr. Speaker, in our nation had the art so to identify himself
with public measures of the most momentous character, and to maintain
at the same time almost universal affection, like that great statesman.
His business, from his boyhood, was with national concerns, and
he dealt with them as with familiar things. And yet his sympathies
were with individual interests, enterprises, affections, joys, and
sorrows; and while every patriot bowed in humble deference to his lofty
attainments and heartfelt gratitude for his national services, almost
every man in this vast republic knew that the great statesman was, in
feeling and experience, identified with his own position. Hence the
universal love of the people; hence their enthusiasm in all times for
his fame. Hence, sir, their present grief.

Many other public men of our country have distinguished themselves and
brought honor to the nation by superiority in some particular branch
of public service, but it seems to have been the gift of Mr. Clay to
have acquired peculiar eminence in every path of duty he was called
to tread. In the earnestness of debate, which great public interests
and distinguished opposing talents excited in this house, he had no
superior in energy, force, or effect. Yet, as the presiding officer,
by blandness of language and firmness of purpose, he soothed and made
orderly; and thus, by official dignity, he commanded the respect which
energy had secured to him on the floor.

Wherever official or social duties demanded an exercise of his power,
there was a preëminence which seemed prescriptively his own. In the
lofty debate of the senate and the stirring harangues to popular
assemblages, he was the orator of the nation and of the people; and the
sincerity of purpose and the unity of design evinced in all he said or
did, fixed in the public mind a confidence strong and expansive as the
affections he had won.

Year after year, sir, has Henry Clay been achieving the work of the
mission with which he was intrusted; and it was only when the warmest
wishes of his warmest friends were disappointed, that he entered on the
fruition of a patriot’s highest hopes, and stood in the full enjoyment
of that admiration and confidence which nothing but the antagonism of
party relations could have divided.

How rich that enjoyment must have been it is only for us to imagine.
How eminently deserved it was we and the world can attest.

The love and the devotion of his political friends were cheering and
grateful to his heart, and were acknowledged in all his life――were
recognized even to his death.

The contest in the senate chamber or the forum were rewarded with
success achieved, and the great victor could enjoy the ovation which
partial friendship or the gratitude of the benefit prepared. But
the triumph of his life was no party achievement. It was not in the
applause which admiring friends and defeated antagonists offered to
his measureless success, that he found the reward of his labors, and
comprehended the extent of his mission.

It was only when friends and antagonists paused in their contests
appalled at the public difficulties and national dangers which had been
accumulating, unseen and unregarded; it was only when the nation itself
felt the danger, and acknowledged the inefficacy of party action as a
remedy, that Henry Clay calculated the full extent of his powers, and
enjoyed the reward of their saving exercise. Then, sir, you saw, and
I saw, party designations dropped, and party allegiance disavowed, and
anxious patriots, of all localities and name, turn toward the country’s
benefactor as the man for the terrible exigencies of the hour; and the
sick chamber of Henry Clay became the Delphos whence were given out
the oracles that presented the means and the measures of our Union’s
safety. There, sir, and not in the high places of the country, were the
labors and sacrifices of half a century to be rewarded and closed. With
his right yet in that senate which he had entered the youngest, and
lingered still the eldest member, he felt that his work was done, and
the object of his life accomplished. Every cloud that had dimmed the
noonday lustre had been dissipated; and the retiring orb, which sunk
from the sight of the nation in fullness and in beauty, will yet pour
up the horizon a posthumous glory that shall tell of the splendor and
greatness of the luminary that has passed away.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. BAYLY, of Virginia.――Mr. Speaker: Although I have been all my
life a political opponent of Mr. Clay, yet from my boyhood I have been
upon terms of personal friendship with him. More than twenty years
ago, I was introduced to him by my father, who was his personal friend.
From that time to this, there has existed between us as great personal
intimacy as the disparity in our years and our political difference
would justify. After I became a member of this house, and upon his
return to the senate, subsequent to his resignation in 1842, the
warm regard upon his part for the daughter of a devoted friend of
forty years’ standing, made him a constant visitor at my house, and
frequently a guest at my table. These circumstances make it proper
that, upon this occasion, I should pay this last tribute to his memory.
I not only knew him well as a statesman, but I knew him better in most
unreserved social intercourse. The most happy circumstance, as I esteem
it, of my political life has been, that I have thus known each of our
great congressional triumvirate.

I, sir, never knew a man of higher qualities than Mr. Clay. His very
faults originated in high qualities. With as great self-possession,
with greater self-reliance than any man I ever knew, he possessed moral
and physical courage to as high a degree as any man who ever lived.
Confident in his own judgment, never doubting as to his own course,
fearing no obstacle that might lie in his way, it was almost impossible
that he should not have been imperious in his character. Never doubting
himself as to what, in his opinion, duty and patriotism required at his
hands, it was natural that he should sometimes have been impatient with
those more doubting and timid than himself. His were qualities to have
made a great general, as they were qualities that did make him a great
statesman, and these qualities were so obvious, that during the darkest
period of our late war with Great Britain, Mr. Madison had determined,
at one time, to make him general-in-chief of the American army.

Sir, it is but a short time since the American congress buried the
first one that went to the grave of that great triumvirate. We are
now called upon to bury another. The third, thank God! still lives,
and long may he live to enlighten his countrymen by his wisdom, and
set them the example of his exalted patriotism. Sir, in the lives and
characters of these great men, there is much resembling those of the
great triumvirate of the British Parliament. It differs principally in
this: Burke preceded Fox and Pitt to the tomb. Webster survives Clay
and Calhoun. When Fox and Pitt died, they left no peer behind them.
Webster still lives, now that Calhoun and Clay are dead, the unrivalled
statesman of his country. Like Fox and Pitt, Clay and Calhoun lived in
troubled times. Like Fox and Pitt, they were each of them the leader of
rival parties. Like Fox and Pitt they were idolized by their respective
friends. Like Fox and Pitt, they died about the same time, and in the
public service; and, as has been said of Fox and Pitt, Clay and Calhoun
died with ‘their harness upon them.’ Like Fox and Pitt――

               ‘With more than mortal powers endow’d,
                How high they soared above the crowd!
                Theirs was no common party race,
                Jostling by dark intrigue for place――
                Like fabled gods their mighty war
                Shook realms and nations in its jar.
                Beneath each banner proud to stand
                Look’d up the noblest of the land.

                           *  *  *  *  *

                Here let their discord with them die.
                Speak not for those a separate doom;
                Whom fate made brothers in the tomb;
                But search the land of living men,
                Where wilt thou find their like again!’

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. VENABLE said: Mr. Speaker, I trust that I shall be pardoned for
adding a few words upon this sad occasion. The life of the illustrious
statesman, which has just terminated, is so interwoven with our history,
and the lustre of his great name so profusely shed over its pages, that
simple admiration of his high qualities might well be my excuse. But it
is a sacred privilege to draw near; to contemplate the end of the great
and the good. It is profitable as well as purifying to look upon and
realize the office of death in removing all that can excite jealousy or
produce distrust, and to gaze upon the virtues which, like jewels, have
survived his powers of destruction. The light which radiates from the
life of a great and patriotic statesman is often dimmed by the mists
which party conflicts throw around it. But the blast which strikes
him down purifies the atmosphere which surrounded him in life, and it
shines forth in bright examples and well-earned renown. It is then that
we witness the sincere acknowledgment of gratitude by a people, who,
having enjoyed the benefits arising from the services of an eminent
statesman, embalm his name in their memory and hearts. We should
cherish such recollections, as well from patriotism as self-respect.
Ours, sir, is now the duty, in the midst of sadness, in this high place,
in the face of our republic, and before the world, to pay this tribute
by acknowledging the merits of our colleague, whose name has ornamented
the journals of congress for near half a century. Few, very few, have
ever combined the high intellectual powers and distinguished gifts of
this illustrious senator. Cast in the finest mould by nature, he more
than fulfilled the anticipations which were indulged by those who
looked to a distinguished career as the certain result of that zealous
pursuit of fame and usefulness upon which he entered in early life. Of
the incidents of that life it is unnecessary for me to speak――they are
as familiar as household words, and must be equally familiar to those
who come after us. But it is useful to refresh memory, by recurrence
to some of the events which marked his career. We know, sir, that there
is much that is in common in the histories of distinguished men. The
elements which constitute greatness are the same in all times; hence
those who have been the admiration of their generations present in
their lives much which, although really great, ceases to be remarkable,
because illustrated by such numerous examples――

           ‘But there are deeds which should not pass away,
            And names that must not wither.’

Of such deeds the life of Henry Clay affords many and bright examples.
His own name, and those with whom he associated, shall live with a
freshness which time cannot impair, and shine with a brightness which
passing years cannot dim. His advent into public life was as remarkable
for the circumstances as it was brilliant in its effect. It was at
a time when genius and learning, statesmanship and eloquence, made
the American Congress the most august body in the world. He was the
contemporary of a race of statesmen, some of whom――then administering
the government, and others retiring and retired from office――presented
an array of ability unsurpassed in our history. The elder Adams,
Jefferson, Madison, Gallatin, Clinton, and Monroe, stood before the
republic in the maturity of their fame; while Calhoun, John Quincy
Adams, Lowndes, Randolph, Crawford, Gaston, and Cheves, with a host of
others, rose a bright galaxy upon our horizon. He who won his spurs in
such a field earned his knighthood. Distinction amid such competition
was true renown――

           ‘The fame which a man wins for himself is best――
            That he may call his own.’

It was such a fame that he made for himself in that most eventful
era in our history. To me, sir, the recollection of that day, and the
events which distinguish it, is filled with an overpowering interest.
I never can forget my enthusiastic admiration of the boldness, the
eloquence, and the patriotism of Henry Clay during the war of 1812.
In the bright array of talent which adorned the congress of the United
States; in the conflict growing out of the political events of that
time; in the struggles of party, and amid the gloom and disasters which
depressed the spirits of most men, and well nigh paralyzed the energies
of the administration, his cheerful face, high bearing, commanding
eloquence and iron will, gave strength and consistency to those
elements which finally gave not only success but glory to the country.
When dark clouds hovered over us, and there was little to save from
despair, the country looked with hope to Clay and Calhoun, to Lowndes,
and Crawford, and Cheves, and looked not in vain. The unbending will,
the unshaken nerve, and the burning eloquence of Henry Clay, did as
much to command confidence and sustain hope as even the news of our
first victory after a succession of defeats. Those great names are now
canonized in history; he, too, has passed to join them on its pages.
Associated in his long political life with the illustrious Calhoun, he
survived him but two years. Many of us heard his eloquent tribute to
his memory in the senate chamber on the annunciation of his death. And
we this day unite in a similar manifestation of reverential regard to
him whose voice shall never more charm the ear, whose burning thoughts,
borne on that medium, shall no more move the hearts of listening

In the midst of the highest specimens of our race, he was always
an equal; _he was a man among men_. Bold, skillful, and determined,
he gave character to the party which acknowledged him as a leader;
impressed his opinions upon their minds, and an attachment to
himself upon their hearts. No man, sir, can do this without being
eminently great. Whoever attains this position must first overcome the
aspirations of antagonist ambition, quiet the clamors of rivalry, hold
in check the murmurs of jealousy, and overcome the instincts of vanity
and self-love in the masses thus subdued to his control. But few men
ever attain it. Very rare are the examples of those whose plastic touch
forms the minds and directs the purposes of a great political party.
This infallible indication of superiority belonged to Mr. Clay. He has
exercised that control during a long life; and now through our broad
land the tidings of his death, borne with electric speed, have opened
the fountains of sorrow. Every city, town, village, and hamlet will
be clothed with mourning; along our extended coast, the commercial and
military marine, with flags drooping at half-mast, own the bereavement;
state-houses draped in black proclaim the extinguishment of one of the
great lights of senates; and minute-guns sound his requiem.

Sir, during the last five years I have seen the venerable John
Quincy Adams, John C. Calhoun, and Henry Clay pass from among us, the
legislators of our country. The race of giants who ‘were on the earth
in those days’ is well-nigh gone. Despite their skill, their genius,
their might, they have sunk under the stroke of time. They were our
admiration and our glory; a few linger with us, the monuments of former
greatness, the beacon-lights of a past age. The death of Henry Clay
cannot fail to suggest melancholy associations to each member of this
house. These walls have rëechoed the silvery tones of his bewitching
voice; listening assemblies have hung upon his lips. The chair which
you fill has been graced by his presence, while his commanding person
and unequalled parliamentary attainments inspired all with deference
and respect. Chosen by acclamation because of his high qualifications,
he sustained himself before the house and the country. In his supremacy
with his party, and the uninterrupted confidence which he enjoyed to
the day of his death, he seems to have almost discredited the truth of
those lines of the poet Laberius――

         ‘Non passunt primi esse omnes omni in tempore,
          Summum ad gradum cum claritatis veneris,
          Consistes ægre, et citius, quam ascendas, cades.’

If not at all times first, he stood equal with the foremost, and a
brilliant, rapid rise knew no decline in the confidence of those whose
just appreciation of his merits had confirmed his title to renown.

The citizens of other countries will deplore his death; the struggling
patriots who on our own continent were cheered by his sympathies,
and who must have perceived his influence in the recognition of their
independence by this government, have taught their children to venerate
his name. He won the civic crown, and the demonstrations of this hour
own the worth of civil services.

It was with great satisfaction that I heard my friend from Kentucky,
[Mr. Breckenridge,] the immediate representative of Mr. Clay, detail
a conversation which disclosed the feelings of that eminent man in
relation to his Christian hope. These, Mr. Speaker, are rich memorials,
precious reminiscences. A Christian statesman is the glory of his age,
and his memory will be glorious in after times; it reflects a light
coming from a source which clouds cannot dim nor shadows obscure.
It was my privilege, also, a short time since, to converse with this
distinguished statesman on the subject of his hopes in a future state.
Feeling a deep interest, I asked him frankly what were his hopes in the
world to which he was evidently hastening. ‘I am pleased,’ said he, ‘my
friend, that you have introduced the subject. Conscious that I must die
very soon, I love to meditate upon the most important of all interests.
I love to converse and to hear conversations about them. The vanity of
the world, and its insufficiency to satisfy the soul of man, has long
been a settled conviction of my mind. Man’s inability to secure by his
own merits the approbation of God, I feel to be true. I trust in the
atonement of the Saviour of men as the ground of my acceptance and
my hope of salvation. My faith is feeble, but I hope in His mercy
and trust in his promises.’ To such declarations I listened with the
deepest interest, as I did on another occasion, when he said: ‘I am
willing to abide the will of Heaven, and ready to die when that will
shall determine it.’

He is gone, sir, professing the humble hope of a Christian. That hope,
alone, sir, can sustain you, or any of us. There is one lonely and
crushed heart that has bowed before this afflictive event. Far away,
at Ashland, a widowed wife, prevented by feeble health from attending
his bedside and soothing his painful hours, she has thought even the
electric speed of the intelligence daily transmitted of his condition
too slow for her aching, anxious bosom. She will find consolation in
his Christian submission, and will draw all of comfort that such a case
admits from the assurance that nothing was neglected by the kindness
of friends which could supply her place. May the guardianship of the
widow’s God be her protection, and His consolations her support!

         ‘All cannot be at all times first
          To reach the topmost step of glory; to stand there,
          More hard. Even swifter than we mount, we fall.’

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. HAVEN said: Mr. Speaker, Representing a constituency distinguished
for the constancy of its devotion to the political principles of
Mr. Clay, and for its unwavering attachment to his fortunes and his
person――sympathizing deeply with those whose more intimate personal
relations with him have made them feel most profoundly this general
bereavement――I desire to say a few words of him, since he has fallen
amongst us and been taken to his rest.

After the finished eulogies which have been so eloquently pronounced
by the honorable gentlemen who have preceded me, I will avoid a course
of remark which might otherwise be deemed a repetition, and refer to
the bearing of some of the acts of the deceased upon the interests and
destinies of my own state. The influence of his public life, and of
his _purely American character_, the benefits of his wise forecast, and
the results of his efforts for wholesome and rational progress, are no
where more strongly exhibited than in the state of New York.

Our appreciation of his anxiety for the general diffusion of
knowledge and education, is manifested in our twelve thousand public
libraries, our equal number of common schools, and a large number of
higher institutions of learning, all of which draw portions of their
support from the share of the proceeds of the public lands, which his
wise policy gave to our state. Our whole people are thus constantly
reminded of their great obligations to the statesman whose death now
afflicts the nation with sorrow. Our extensive public works, attest
our conviction of the utility and importance of the system of internal
improvements he so ably advocated; and their value and productiveness,
afford a most striking evidence of the soundness and wisdom of
his policy. Nor has his influence been less sensibly felt in our
agriculture, commerce, and manufactures. Every department of human
industry acknowledges his fostering care; and the people of New York
are, in no small measure, indebted to his statesmanship for the wealth,
comfort, contentment, and happiness so widely and generally diffused
throughout the state.

Well may New York cherish his memory and acknowledge with gratitude
the benefits that his life has conferred. That memory will be cherished
throughout the republic.

When internal discord and sectional strife have threatened the
integrity of the Union, his just weight of character, his large
experience, his powers of conciliation and acknowledged patriotism,
have enabled him to pacify the angry passions of his countrymen, and
to raise the bow of promise and of hope upon the clouds which have
darkened the political horizon.

He has passed from amongst us, ripe in wisdom and pure in
character――full of years and full of honors――he has breathed his last
amidst the blessings of a united and grateful nation.

He was, in my judgment, particularly fortunate in the time of his death.

He lived to see his country, guided by his wisdom, come once again
unhurt out of trying sectional difficulties and domestic strife; and
he has closed his eyes in death upon that country, whilst it is in
the enjoyment of profound peace, busy with industry, and blessed with
unequalled prosperity.

It can fall to the lot of but few to die amidst so warm a gratitude
flowing from the hearts of their countrymen; and none can leave a
brighter example or a more enduring fame.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. BROOKS, of New York, said: Mr. Speaker, I rise to add my humble
tribute to the memory of a great and good man, now to be gathered to
his fathers. I speak for, and from, a community in whose heart is
enshrined the name of him whom we mourn; who, however much Virginia,
the land of his birth, or Kentucky, the land of his adoption, may love
him, is, if possible, loved where I live yet more. If idolatry had been
Christian, or allowable even, he would have been our idol. But as it is,
for a quarter of a century now, his bust, his portrait, or some medal,
has been one of our household gods, gracing not alone the saloons and
the halls of wealth, but the humblest room or workshop of almost every
mechanic or laborer. Proud monuments of his policy as a statesman, as
my colleague has justly said, are all about us; and we owe to him, in a
good degree, our growth, our greatness, our prosperity and happiness as
a people.

The great field of Henry Clay, Mr. Speaker, has been here, on the
floor of this house, and in the other wing of the capitol. He had held
other posts of higher nominal distinction, but they are all eclipsed
by the brilliancy of his career as a congressman. What of glory he has
acquired, or what most endear him to his countrymen, have been won here,
amid these pillars, under these domes of the capitol.

                ‘Si quæris monumentum, circumspice.’

The mind of Mr. Clay has been the governing mind of the country,
more or less, ever since he has been on the stage of public action.
In a minority or majority――more, perhaps, even in a minority than in a
majority――he seems to have had some commission, divine as it were, to
persuade, to convince, to govern other men. His patriotism, his grand
conceptions, have created measures which the secret fascination of his
manners in-doors, or his irresistible eloquence without, have enabled
him almost always to frame into laws. Adverse administrations have
yielded to him, or been borne down by him, or he has taken them captive
as a leader, and carried the country and congress with him. This power
he has wielded now for nearly half a century, with nothing but reason
and eloquence to back him. And yet when he came here, years ago, he
came from a then frontier state of this Union, heralded by no loud
trumpet of fame, nay, quite unknown! unfortified even by any position,
social or pecuniary;――to quote his own words, ‘my only heritage has
been infancy, indigence, and ignorance.’

In these days, Mr. Speaker, when mere civil qualifications for high
public places――when long civil training and practical statesmanship
are held subordinate――a most discouraging prospect would be rising
up before our young men, were it not for some such names as Lowndes,
Crawford, Clinton, Gaston, Calhoun, Clay, and the like, scattered along
the pages of our history, as stars or constellations along a cloudless
sky. They shine forth, and show us, that if the chief magistracy
cannot be won by such qualifications, a memory among men can be――a hold
upon posterity, as firm, as lustrous――nay, more imperishable. In the
Capitolium of Rome there are long rows of marble slabs, on which are
recorded the names of the Roman consuls; but the eye wanders over this
wilderness of letters but to light up and kindle upon some Cato or
Cicero. To win such fame, thus unsullied, as Mr. Clay has won, is worth
any man’s ambition. And how was it won? By courting the shifting gales
of popularity? No, never! By truckling to the schemes, the arts, and
seductions of the demagogue? Never, never! His hardest battles as a
public man――his greatest, most illustrious achievements――have been
against, at first, an adverse public opinion. To gain an imperishable
name, he has often braved the perishable popularity of the moment.
That sort of courage which, in a public man, I deem the highest of
all courage――that sort of courage most necessary under our form of
government to guide as well as to save a state――Mr. Clay was possessed
of more than any public man I ever knew. Physical courage, valuable,
indispensable though it be, we share but with the brute; but moral
courage, to dare to do right amid all temptations to do wrong, is, as
it seems to me, the very highest species, the noblest heroism, under
institutions like ours. ‘I had rather be right than be President,’ was
Mr. Clay’s sublime reply when pressed to refrain from some measure that
would mar his popularity. These lofty words were the clue of his whole
character――the secret of his hold upon the heads as well as hearts of
the American people; nay, the key of his immortality.

Another of the keys, Mr. Speaker, of his universal reputation was
his intense nationality. When taunted but recently, almost within our
hearing, as it were, on the floor of the senate by a southern senator,
as being a southern man unfaithful to the south――his indignant but
patriotic exclamation was, ‘I know no _south_, no north, no east, no
west.’ The country, the _whole_ country, loved, reverenced, adored such
a man. The soil of Virginia may be his birth-place, the sod of Kentucky
will cover his grave――what was mortal they claim――but the spirit, the
soul, the genius of the mighty man, the immortal part, these belong to
his country and to his God.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. FAULKNER, of Virginia, said: Representing, in part, the state
which gave birth to that distinguished man whose death has just been
announced upon this floor, and having for many years held toward him
the most cordial relations of friendship, personal and political,
I feel that I should fail to discharge an appropriate duty, if I
permitted this occasion to pass by without some expression of the
feeling which such an event is so well calculated to elicit. Sir, this
intelligence does not fall upon our ears unexpectedly. For months the
public mind has been prepared for the great national loss which we now
deplore; and yet, as familiar as the daily and hourly reports have made
us with his hopeless condition and gradual decline, and although

                            ‘Like a shadow thrown
              Softly and sweetly from a passing cloud,
              Death fell upon him,’

it is impossible that a light of such surpassing splendor should be,
as it is now, for ever extinguished from our view, without producing
a shock, deeply and painfully felt, to the utmost limits of this great
republic. Sir, we all feel that a mighty intellect has passed from
among us; but, happily for this country, happily for mankind, not
until it had accomplished to some extent the exalted mission for which
it had been sent upon this earth; not until it had reached the full
maturity of its usefulness and power; not until it had shed a bright
and radiant lustre over our national renown; not until time had enabled
it to bequeath the rich treasures of its thought and experience for the
guidance and instruction of the present and of succeeding generations.

Sir, it is difficult,――it is impossible,――within the limit allowed
for remarks upon occasions of this kind, to do justice to a great
historical character like Henry Clay. He was one of that class of men
whom Scaliger designates as _homines centenarii_――men that appear upon
the earth but once in a century. His fame is the growth of years, and
it would require time to unfold the elements which have combined to
impart to it so much of stability and grandeur. Volumes have already
been written, and volumes will continue to be written, to record those
eminent and distinguished public services which have placed him in
the front rank of American statesmen and patriots. The highest talent,
stimulated by a fervid and patriotic enthusiasm, has already and will
continue to exhaust its powers to portray those striking and generous
incidents of his life,――those shining and captivating qualities of his
heart, which have made him one of the most beloved, as he was one of
the most admired, of men; and yet the subject itself will remain as
fresh and exhaustless as if hundreds of the best intellects of the land
had not quaffed the inspiration of their genius from the ever-gushing
and overflowing fountains of his fame. It could not be that a
reputation so grand and colossal as that which attaches to the
name of Henry Clay could rest for its base upon any single virtue,
however striking; nor upon any single act, no matter how marked or
distinguished. Such a reputation as he has left behind him, could only
be the result of a long life of illustrious public service. And such in
truth it was. For nearly half a century he has been a prominent actor
in all the stirring and eventful scenes of American history, fashioning
and moulding many of the most important measures of public policy by
his bold and sagacious mind, and arresting others by his unconquerable
energy and resistless force of eloquence. And however much the members
of this body may differ in opinion as to the wisdom of many of his
views of national domestic policy, there is not one upon this floor――no,
sir, not one in this nation――who will deny to him frankness and
directness as a public man; a genius for statesmanship of the highest
order; extraordinary capacities for public usefulness, and an ardent
and elevated patriotism, without stain and without reproach.

In referring to a career of public service so varied and extended as
that of Mr. Clay, and to a character so rich in every great and manly
virtue, it is only possible to glance at a few of the most prominent
of those points of his personal history, which have given to him so
distinguished a place in the affections of his countrymen.

In the whole character of Mr. Clay, in all that attached or belonged
to it, you find nothing that is not essentially American. Born in the
darkest period of our revolutionary struggle; reared from infancy to
manhood among those great minds which gave the first impulse to that
mighty movement, he early imbibed and sedulously cherished those great
principles of civil and political liberty, which he so brilliantly
illustrated in his subsequent life, and which has made his name a
watchword of hope and consolation to the oppressed of all the earth.
In his intellectual training he was the pure creation of our own
republican soil. Few, if any, allusions are to be seen in his speeches
or writings to ancient or modern literature, or to the thoughts and
ideas of other men. His country, its institutions, its policy, its
interests, its destiny, form the exclusive topics of those eloquent
harangues, which, while they are destitute of the elaborate finish,
have all the ardor and intensity of thought, the earnestness of purpose,
the cogency of reasoning, the vehemence of style, and the burning
patriotism which mark the productions of the great Athenian orator.

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of Mr. Clay as a
public man was his loyalty to truth and to the honest convictions of
his own mind. He deceived no man: he would not permit his own heart to
be deceived by any of those seductive influences which too often warp
the judgment of men in public station. He never paused to consider how
far any step which he was about to take would lead to his own personal
advancement; he never calculated what he might lose or what he might
gain by his advocacy of, or his opposition to, any particular measure.
His single inquiry was: Is it right? Is it in accordance with the
constitution of the land? Will it redound to the permanent welfare
of the country? When satisfied upon these points, his determination
was fixed; his purpose was immovable. ‘I would rather be right than
be President,’ was the expression of his genuine feelings, and the
principle by which he was controlled in his public career――a saying
worthy of immortality, and proper to be inscribed upon the heart
of every young man in this republic. And yet, sir, with all of
that personal and moral intrepidity which so eminently marked the
character of Mr. Clay; with his well-known inflexibility of purpose and
unyielding resolution, such was the genuine sincerity of his patriotism,
and such his thorough comprehension of those principles of compromise,
upon which the whole structure of our government was founded, that
no one was more prompt to relax the rigor of his policy the moment he
perceived that it was calculated to disturb the harmony of the states,
or to endanger in any degree the stability of the government. With him
the love of this Union was a passion――an absorbing sentiment――which
gave color to every act of his public life. It triumphed over party;
it triumphed over policy; it subdued the natural fierceness and
haughtiness of his temper, and brought him into the most kindly and
cordial relations with those who, upon all other questions, were deeply
and bitterly opposed to him. It has been asserted, sir, upon high
medical authority, and doubtless with truth, that his life was in all
probability shortened ten years by the arduous and extraordinary labors
which he assumed at the memorable session of 1850. If so, he has added
the crowning glory of the MARTYR to the spotless fame of the PATRIOT;
and we may well hope that a great national pacification, purchased at
such a sacrifice, will long continue to cement the bonds of this now
happy and prosperous Union.

Mr. Clay possessed, in an eminent degree, the qualities of a
great popular leader; and history, I will assume to say, affords
no example in any republic, ancient or modern, of any individual
that so fearlessly carried out the convictions of his own judgment,
and so sparingly flattered the prejudices of popular feeling, who,
for so long a period, exercised the same controlling influence
over the public mind. Earnest in whatever measure he sustained,
fearless in attack,――dexterous in defence,――abounding in intellectual
resources,――eloquent in debate,――of inflexible purpose, and with a
‘courage never to submit or yield,’ no man ever lived with higher
qualifications to rally a desponding party, or to lead an embattled
host to victory. That he never attained the highest post of honorable
ambition in this country is not to be ascribed to any want of capacity
as a popular leader, nor to the absence of those qualities which
attract the fidelity and devotion of ‘troops’ of admiring friends.
It was the fortune of Napoleon, at a critical period of his destiny,
to be brought into collision with the star of Wellington; and it was
the fortune of Henry Clay to have encountered, in his political orbit,
another great and original mind, gifted with equal power for commanding
success, and blessed with more fortunate elements, concurring at the
time, of securing popular favor. The struggle was such as might have
been anticipated from the collision of two such fierce and powerful
rivals. For near a quarter of a century this great republic has been
convulsed to its centre by the divisions which have sprung from their
respective opinions, policy, and personal destinies; and even now,
when they have both been removed to a higher and a better sphere of
existence, and when every unkind feeling has been quenched in the
triumphs of the grave, this country still feels, and for years will
continue to feel, the influence of those agitations to which their
powerful and impressive characters gave impulse.

But I must pause. If I were to attempt to present all the aspects in
which the character of this illustrious man will challenge the applause
of history, I should fatigue the house and violate the just limit
allowed for such remarks.

I cannot, however, conclude, sir, without making some more special
allusion to Mr. Clay, as a native of that state which I have the
honor in part to represent upon this floor. We are all proud, and very
properly proud, of the distinguished men to whom our respective states
have given birth. It is a just and laudable emulation, and one, in a
confederated government like ours, proper to be encouraged. And while
men like Mr. Clay very rapidly rise above the confined limits of a
state reputation, and acquire a national fame, in which all claim and
all have an equal interest, still there is a propriety and fitness
in preserving the relation between the individual and his state.
Virginia has given birth to a large number of men who have by their
distinguished talents and services impressed their names upon the
hearts and memories of their countrymen; but certainly, since the
colonial era, she has given birth to no man who, in the massive and
gigantic proportions of his character, and in the splendor of his
native endowments, can be compared to Henry Clay. At an early age,
he emigrated from his native state, and found a home in Kentucky. In
a speech which he delivered in the senate of the United States, in
February, 1842――and which I well remember――upon the occasion of his
resigning his seat in that body, he expressed the wish that, when that
event should occur which has now clothed this city in mourning and
filled the nation with grief, his ‘earthly remains should be laid under
the green sod of Kentucky, with those of her gallant and patriotic

Sir, however gratifying it might be to us that his remains should
be transferred to his native soil, to there mingle with the ashes of
Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Lee, and Henry, we cannot complain of
the very natural preference which he has himself expressed. If Virginia
did give him birth, Kentucky has nourished him in his manhood――has
freely lavished upon him her highest honors――has shielded him from
harm when the clouds of calumny and detraction gathered heavily and
loweringly about him, and she has watched over his fame with the
tenderness and zeal of a mother. Sir, it is not to be wondered that he
should have expressed the wish he did, to be laid by the side of her
gallant and patriotic sons. Happy Kentucky! Happy in having an adopted
son so worthy of her highest honors. Happy, in the unshaken fidelity
and loyalty with which, for near half a century, those honors have been
so steadfastly and gracefully accorded to him.

Sir, whilst Virginia, in the exercise of her own proper judgment, has
differed from Mr. Clay in some of his views of national policy, she has
never, at any period of his public career, failed to regard him with
pride, as one of her most distinguished sons; to honor the purity and
the manliness of his character, and to award to him the high credit of
an honest and sincere devotion to his country’s welfare. And now, sir,
that death has arrested for ever the pulsations of that mighty heart,
and sealed in eternal silence those eloquent lips upon whose accents
thousands have so often hung in rapture, I shall stand justified in
saying, that a wail of lamentation will be heard from her people――her
whole people――reverberating through her mountains and valleys, as deep,
as genuine, and as sincere as that which, I know, will swell the noble
hearts and the heaving bosoms of the people of his own cherished and
beloved Kentucky.

Sir, as I walked to the capitol this morning, every object which
attracted my eye, admonished me that a nation’s benefactor had departed
from amongst us. He is gone! Henry Clay, the idol of his friends, the
ornament of the senate chamber, the pride of his country; he whose
presence gathered crowds of his admiring fellow-men around him, as if
he had been one descended from above, has passed for ever from our view.

           ‘His soul, enlarged from its vile bonds, has gone
            To that REFULGENT world, where it shall swim
            In liquid light, and float on seas of bliss.’

But the memory of his virtues and of his services will be gratefully
embalmed in the hearts of his countrymen, and generations yet unborn
will be taught to lisp with reverence and enthusiasm the name of Henry

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. PARKER, of Indiana, said: Mr. Speaker, This is a solemn――a
consecrated hour. And I would not detain the members of the house from
indulging in the silence of their own feelings, so grateful to hearts
chastened as ours. But I cannot restrain an expression from a bosom
pained with its fullness.

When my young thoughts first took cognizance of the fact that I have a
country, my eye was attracted by the magnificent proportions of Henry
Clay. The idea absorbed me then, that he was, above all other men, the
embodiment of my country’s genius.

I have watched him; I have studied him; I have admired him――and, God
forgive me! for he was but a man, ‘of like passions with us’――I fear
I have _idolized_ him, until this hour. But he has gone from among men;
and it is for US now to awake and apply ourselves, with renewed fervor
and increased fidelity, to the welfare of the country HE loved so well
and served so truly and so long――the glorious country yet saved to us!
Yes, Henry Clay has fallen, at last!――as the ripe oak falls, in the
stillness of the forest. But the verdant and gorgeous richness of his
glories will only fade and wither from the earth, when his country’s
history shall have been forgotten. ‘One generation passeth away and
another generation cometh.’ Thus it has been from the beginning, and
thus it will be, until time shall be no longer.

Yesterday morning, at eleven o’clock, the spirit of Henry Clay――so
long the pride and glory of his own country, and the admiration of all
the world――was yet with us, though struggling to be free. Ere ‘high
noon’ came, it had passed over ‘the dark river,’ through the gate, into
the celestial city, inhabited by all the ‘just men made perfect.’ May
not our rapt vision contemplate him there, this day, in sweet communion
with the dear friends that have gone before him?――with Madison, and
Jefferson, and Washington, and Henry, and Franklin――with the eloquent
Tully, with the ‘divine Plato,’ with Aaron the Levite, who could ‘speak
well’――with all the great and good, since and before the flood! His
princely tread has graced these aisles for the last time. These halls
will wake no more to the magic music of his voice. Did that tall spirit,
in its etherial form, enter the courts of the upper sanctuary, bearing
itself comparably with the spirits there, as was his walk among men?
Did the mellifluous tones of his greeting there enrapture the hosts
of heaven, comparably with his strains ‘to stir men’s blood’ on earth?
Then, may we not fancy, when it was announced to the inhabitants of
that better country, ‘He comes! he comes!’ there was a rustling of
angel-wings――a thrilling joy――_up there_, only to be witnessed once in
an earthly age? Adieu!――a last adieu to thee, Henry Clay! The hearts of
all thy countrymen are melted, on this day, because of the thought that
thou art gone. Could we have held the hand of the ‘insatiate archer,’
thou hadst not died; but thou wouldst have tarried with us, in the full
grandeur of thy greatness, until we had no longer need of a country.
But we thank our Heavenly Father that thou wast given to us; and that
thou didst survive so long. We would cherish thy memory while we live,
as our country’s JEWEL――than which none is richer. And we will teach
our children the lessons of matchless patriotism thou hast taught us;
with the fond hope that our LIBERTY and our UNION may only expire with
‘the last of earth.’

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. GENTRY said: Mr. Speaker, I do not rise to pronounce an eulogy on
the life and character and public services of the illustrious orator
and statesman whose death this nation deplores. Suitably to perform
that task, a higher eloquence than I possess might essay in vain. The
gushing tears of the nation, the deep grief which oppresses the hearts
of more than twenty millions of people, constitute a more eloquent
eulogium upon the life and character and patriot services of Henry Clay,
than the power of language can express. In no part of our country is
that character more admired, or those public services more appreciated,
than in the state which I have the honor, in part, to represent. I
claim for the people of that state a full participation in the general
woe which the sad announcement of to-day will every where inspire.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. BOWIE said: Mr. Speaker, I rise not to utter the measured phrases
of premeditated woe, but to speak as my constituency would, if they
stood around the grave now opening to receive the mortal remains, not
of a statesman only, but of a beloved friend. If there is a state in
this Union, other than Kentucky, which sends up a wail of more bitter
and sincere sorrow than another, that state is Maryland.

In her midst, the departed statesman was a frequent and a welcome
guest. At many a board, and many a fireside, his noble form was the
light of the eyes, the idol of the heart. Throughout her borders, in
cottage, hamlet, and city, his name is a household word, his thoughts
are familiar sentences. Though not permitted to be the first at his
cradle, Maryland would be the last at his tomb.

Through all the phases of political fortune, amid all the storms which
darkened his career, Maryland cherished him in her inmost heart, as
the most gifted, patriotic, and eloquent of men. To this hour, prayers
ascend from many domestic altars, evening and morning, for his temporal
comfort and eternal welfare. In the language of inspiration, Maryland
would exclaim, ‘There is a prince and a great man fallen, this day, in
Israel.’ Daughters of America! weep for him ‘who hath clothed you in
scarlet and fine linen.’――The husbandman at his plough, the artisan at
the anvil, and the seaman on the mast, will pause and drop a tear when
he hears Clay is no more.

The advocate of freedom in both hemispheres, he will be lamented
alike on the shores of the Hellespont and the banks of the Mississippi
and Orinoco. The freed men of Liberia, learning and practising the art
of self-government, and civilizing Africa, have lost in him a patron
and protector, a father and a friend. America mourns the eclipse of a
luminary, which enlightened and illuminated the continent; the United
States, a counsellor of deepest wisdom and purest purpose; mankind, the
advocate of human rights and constitutional liberty.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Mr. WALSH said: Mr. Speaker, The illustrious man whose death we this
day mourn, was so long my political leader――so long almost the object
of my personal idolatry――that I cannot allow that he shall go down to
the grave, without a word at least of affectionate remembrance――without
a tribute to a memory which will exact tribute as long as a heart shall
be found to beat within the bosom of civilized man, and human agency
shall be adequate in any _form_ to give them an expression; and even,
sir, if I had no heartfelt sigh to pour out here――if I had no tear for
that coffin’s lid, I should do injustice to those whose representative
in part I am, if I did not in this _presence_, and at this time, raise
the voice to swell the accents of the profoundest public sorrow.

The state of Maryland has always vied with Kentucky in love and
adoration of his name. Her people have gathered around him with all
the fervour of a first affection, and with more than its _duration_.
Troops of friends have ever clustered about his pathway with a personal
devotion which each man of them regarded as the highest individual
honor――friends, sir, to whose firesides the tidings of his death will
go with all the withering influences which are felt when household ties
are severed.

I wish, sir, I could offer now a proper memorial for such a subject
and such an affection. But as I strive to utter it, I feel the
disheartening influence of the well-known truth, that in view of
death all minds sink into triteness. It would seem, indeed, sir,
that the great leveller of our race would vindicate his _title_ to
be so considered, by making all men think alike in regard to his
visitation――‘the thousand thoughts that begin and end in one’――the
_desolation_ here――the eternal hope _hereafter_――are influences felt
alike by the lowest intellect and the loftiest genius.

Mr. Speaker, a statesman for more than fifty years in the councils
of his country, whose peculiar charge it was to see that the republic
suffered no detriment――a patriot for all times, all circumstances, and
all emergencies――has passed away from the trials and triumphs of the
world, and gone to his reward. Sad as are the emotions which such an
event would ordinarily excite, their intensity is heightened by the
matters so fresh within the memories of us all:

           ‘Oh! think how to his latest day,
            When Death, just hovering, claimed his prey,
            With Palinurus’ unalter’d mood,
            Firm at his dangerous post he stood;
            Each call for needful rest repell’d,
            With dying hand the rudder held;
            Then while on Freedom’s thousand plains,
            One unpolluted church remains,
            Whose peaceful bells ne’er sent around
            The bloody tocsin’s maddening sound,
            But still, upon the hallow’d day,
            Convoke the swains to praise and pray,
            While peace and civil peace are dear,
            Greet his cold marble with a tear――
            He who preserved them――CLAY lies here.’

In a character, Mr. Speaker, so illustrious and beautiful, it is
difficult to select any point for particular notice, from those which
go to make up its noble proportions; but we may now, around his honored
grave, call to grateful recollection that invincible spirit which no
personal sorrow could sully, and no disaster could overcome. Be assured,
sir, that he has in this regard left a legacy to the young men of the
republic, almost as sacred and as dear as that liberty of which his
life was a blessed illustration.

We can all remember, sir, when adverse political results disheartened
his friends, and made them feel even as men without hope, that his own
clarion voice was still heard in the purpose and the pursuit of right,
as bold and as eloquent as when it first proclaimed the freedom of the
seas, and its talismanic tones struck off the badges of bondage from
the lands of the Incas, and the plains of Marathon.

Mr. Speaker, in the exultation of the statesman he did not forget the
duties of the man. He was an affectionate adviser on all points wherein
inexperienced youth might require counsel. He was a disinterested
sympathizer in personal sorrows that called for consolation. He was
ever upright and honorable in all the duties incident to his relations
in life.

To an existence so lovely, Heaven in its mercy granted a fitting and
appropriate close. It was the prayer, Mr. Speaker, of a distinguished
citizen, who died some years since in the metropolis, even while
his spirit was fluttering for its final flight, that he might depart
gracefully. It may not be presumptuous to say, that what was in that
instance the aspiration of a chivalric _gentleman_, was in this the
realization of the dying _Christian_, in which was blended all that
human dignity could require, with all that divine grace had conferred;
in which the firmness of the man was only transcended by the fervor of
the penitent.

A short period before his death he remarked to one by his bedside,
‘that he was fearful he was becoming selfish, as his thoughts were
entirely withdrawn from the world and centred upon eternity.’ This,
sir, was but the purification of his noble spirit from all the dross of
earth――a happy illustration of what the religious muse has so sweetly

                   ‘No sin to stain――no lure to stay
                      The soul, as home she springs;
                    Thy sunshine on her joyful way,
                      Thy freedom in her wings.’

Mr. Speaker, the solemnities of this hour may soon be forgotten. We may
come back from the new-made grave only still to show that we consider
‘eternity the bubble, life and time the enduring substance.’ We may not
pause long enough by the brink to ask which of us revelers of to-day
shall next be at rest. But be assured, sir, that upon the records of
mortality will never be inscribed a name more illustrious than that of
the statesman, patriot, and friend whom the nation mourns.

                   *       *       *       *       *

  The question was then put on the adoption of the resolutions
  proposed by Mr. ♦Breckenridge, and they were unanimously adopted.

            The Strong Staff Broken and the Beautiful Rod;

                               A SERMON,


       “How is the strong staff broken, and the beautiful rod!”
                                              ――JER. xlviii. 17.

BEFORE all hearts and minds in this august assemblage the vivid image
of _one man_ stands. To some aged eye he may come forth, from the dim
past, as he appeared in the neighboring city of his native state, a
lithe and ardent youth, full of promise, of ambition, and of hope. To
another he may appear as in a distant state, in the courts of justice,
erect, high-strung, bold, wearing the fresh forensic laurel on his
young and open brow. Some may see him in the earlier, and some in the
later, stages of his career, on this conspicuous theatre of his renown;
and to the former he will start out on the back-ground of the past, as
he appeared in the neighboring chamber, tall, elate, impassioned――with
flashing eye, and suasive gesture, and clarion voice, an already
acknowledged ‘Agamemnon, King of Men;’ and to others he will again
stand in this chamber, ‘the strong staff’ of the bewildered and
staggering state, and ‘the beautiful rod,’ rich with the blossoms
of genius, and of patriotic love and hope, the life of youth still
remaining to give animation, grace, and exhaustless vigor, to the
wisdom, the experience, and the gravity of age. To others he may be
present as he sat in the chamber of sickness, cheerful, majestic,
gentle――his mind clear, his heart warm, his hope fixed on Heaven,
peacefully preparing for his last great change. To the memory of
the minister of God he appears as the penitent, humble, and peaceful
Christian, who received him with the affection of a father, and joined
with him in solemn sacrament and prayer, with the gentleness of a woman,
and the humility of a child. ‘Out of the strong came forth sweetness.’
‘How is the strong staff broken, and the beautiful rod!’

But not before this assembly only does the venerated image of
the departed statesman, this day, distinctly stand. For more than
a thousand miles――east, west, north, and south――it is known and
remembered that, at this place and hour, a nation’s representatives
assemble to do honour to him whose fame is now a nation’s heritage.
A nation’s mighty heart throbs against this capitol, and beats through
you. In many cities banners droop, bells toll, cannons boom, funereal
draperies wave. In crowded streets and on sounding wharfs, upon
steamboats and upon cars, in fields and in workshops, in homes, in
schools, millions of men, women, and children have their thoughts fixed
upon this scene, and say mournfully to each other, ‘This is the hour
in which, at the capitol, the nation’s representatives are burying
Henry Clay.’ ‘_Burying_’ Henry Clay! Bury the records of your country’s
history――bury the hearts of living millions――bury the mountains, the
rivers, the lakes, and the spreading lands from sea to sea, with which
his name is inseparably associated, and even then you would not bury
Henry Clay――for he lives in other lands, and speaks in other tongues,
and to other times than our’s.

A great mind, a great heart, a great orator, a great career, have been
consigned to history. She will record his rare gifts of deep insight,
keen discrimination, clear statement, rapid combination, plain, direct,
and convincing logic. She will love to dwell on that large, generous,
magnanimous, open, forgiving heart. She will linger, with fond delight,
on the recorded and traditional stories of an eloquence that was so
masterful and stirring, because it was but _himself_, struggling to
come forth on the living words――because, though the words were brave
and strong, and beautiful and melodious, it was felt that, behind
them there was a _soul_ braver, stronger, more beautiful, and more
melodious, than language could express. She will point to a career
of statesmanship which has, to a remarkable degree, stamped itself on
the public policy of the country, and reached, in beneficent practical
results, the fields, the looms, the commercial marts, and the quiet
homes of all the land, where his name was, with the departed fathers,
and is with the living children, and will be, with successive
generations, an honored household word.

I feel, as a man, the grandeur of this career. But as an immortal,
with this broken wreck of mortality before me, with this scene as the
‘end-all’ of human glory, I feel that no career is truly great but that
of him who, whether he be illustrious or obscure, lives to the future
in the present, and linking himself to the spiritual world, draws from
God the life, the rule, the motive, and the reward of all his labor. So
would that great spirit which has departed say to us, could he address
us now. So did he realize, in the calm and meditative close of life.
I feel that I but utter the lessons which, living, were his last and
best convictions, and which, dead, would be, could he speak to us, his
solemn admonitions, when I say that statesmanship is then only glorious,
when it is _Christian_: and that man is then only safe, and true to his
duty, and his soul, when the life which he lives in the flesh is the
life of faith in the Son of God.

Great, indeed, is the privilege, and most honorable and useful is the
career, of a Christian American statesman. He perceives that civil
liberty came from the freedom wherewith Christ made its early martyrs
and defenders free. He recognises it as one of the twelve manner of
fruits on the Tree of Life, which, while its lower branches furnish
the best nutriment of earth, hangs on its topmost boughs, which wave
in Heaven, fruits that exhilarate the immortals. Recognising the state
as God’s institution, he will perceive that his own ministry is divine.
Living consciously under the eye, and in the love and fear of God;
redeemed by the blood of Jesus; sanctified by His Spirit; loving His
law; he will give himself, in private and in public, to the service
of his Saviour. He will not admit that he may act on less lofty
principles in public, than in private life; and that he must be careful
of his moral influence in the small sphere of home and neighborhood,
but need take no heed of it when it stretches over continents and
crosses seas. He will know that his moral responsibility cannot be
divided and distributed among others. When he is told that adherence
to the strictest moral and religious principle is incompatible with
a successful and eminent career, he will denounce the assertion as a
libel on the venerated Fathers of the Republic――a libel on the honored
living and the illustrious dead――a libel against a great and Christian
nation――a libel against God himself, who has declared and made
‘godliness profitable for the life that now is.’ He will strive to make
laws the transcripts of the character, and institutions illustrations
of the providence of God. He will scan with admiration and awe the
purposes of God in the future history of the world, in throwing
open this wide continent, from sea to sea, as the abode of freedom,
intelligence, plenty, prosperity, and peace; and feel that in giving
his energies with a patriot’s love, to the welfare of his country,
he is consecrating himself, with a Christian’s zeal, to the extension
and establishment of the Redeemer’s kingdom. Compared with a career
like this, which is equally open to those whose public sphere is
large or small, how paltry are the trade of patriotism, the tricks
of statesmanship, the rewards of successful baseness! This hour,
this scene, the venerated dead, the country, the world, the present,
the future, God, duty, Heaven, hell, speak trumpet-tongued to all in
the service of their country, to _beware_ how they lay polluted or
unhallowed hands

                              ‘Upon the ark
                Of her magnificent and awful cause!’

Such is the character of that statesmanship which alone would have met
the full approval of the venerated dead. For the religion which always
had a place in the convictions of his mind, had also, within a recent
period, entered into his experience, and seated itself in his heart.
Twenty years since he wrote――‘I am a member of no religious sect, and
I am not a professor of religion. I regret that I am not. I wish that I
was, and trust that I shall be. I have, and always have had, a profound
regard for Christianity, the religion of my fathers, and for its rites,
its usages, and observances.’ That feeling proved that the seed sown
by pious parents was not dead, though stifled. A few years since, its
dormant life was rëawakened. He was baptized in the communion of the
Protestant Episcopal Church; and during his sojourn in this city, he
was in full communion with Trinity Parish.

It is since his withdrawal from the sittings of the senate, that I
have been made particularly acquainted with his religious opinions,
character, and feelings. From the commencement of his illness he always
expressed to me his persuasion that its termination would be fatal.
From that period until his death, it was my privilege to hold frequent
religious services and conversations with him in his room. He avowed
to me his full faith in the great leading doctrines of the Gospel――the
fall and sinfulness of man, the divinity of Christ, the reality and
necessity of the Atonement, the need of being born again by the Spirit,
and salvation through faith in a crucified Redeemer. His own personal
hopes of salvation, he ever and distinctly based on the promises and
the grace of Christ. Strikingly perceptible, on his naturally impetuous
and impatient character, was the influence of grace in producing
submission, and ‘a patient waiting for Christ,’ and for death. On one
occasion he spoke to me of the pious example of one very near and dear
to him, as that which led him deeply to feel, and earnestly to seek
for himself, the reality and the blessedness of religion. On another
occasion, he told me that he had been striving to form a conception of
Heaven; and he enlarged upon the mercy of that provision by which our
Saviour became a partaker of our humanity, that our hearts and hopes
might fix themselves on him. On another occasion, when he was supposed
to be very near his end, I expressed to him the hope that his mind
and heart were at peace, and that he was able to rest with cheerful
confidence on the promises, and in the merits of the Redeemer. He
said, with much feeling, that he endeavored to, and trusted that he
did repose his salvation upon Christ; that it was too late for him to
look at Christianity in the light of speculation; that he had never
doubted of its truth; and that he now wished to throw himself upon it
as a practical and blessed remedy. Very soon after this, I administered
to him the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Being extremely feeble, and
desirous of having his mind undiverted, no persons were present, but
his son and his servant. It was a scene long to be remembered. There,
in that still chamber, at a week-day noon, the tides of life flowing
all around us, three disciples of the Savior, the minister of God,
the dying statesman, and his servant, a partaker of the like precious
faith, commemorated their Saviour’s dying love. He joined in the
blessed sacrament with great feeling and solemnity, now pressing his
hands together, and now spreading them forth, as the words of the
service expressed the feelings, desires, supplications, confessions,
and thanksgivings, of his heart. His eyes were dim with grateful tears,
his heart was full of peace and love! After this he rallied, and again
I was permitted frequently to join with him in religious services,
conversation, and prayer. He grew in grace and in the knowledge of our
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Among the books which, in connection
with the Word of God, he read most, were ‘Jay’s Morning and Evening
Exercises,’ the ‘Life of Dr. Chalmers,’ and ‘The Christian Philosopher
Triumphant in Death.’ His hope continued to the end to be, though true
and real, tremulous with humility rather than rapturous with assurance.
When he felt most the weariness of his protracted sufferings, it
sufficed to suggest to him that his Heavenly Father doubtless knew,
that after a life so long and stirring, and tempted, such a discipline
of chastening and suffering was needful to make him more meet for
the inheritance of the saints――and at once words of meek and patient
acquiescence escaped his lips.

Exhausted nature at length gave way. On the last occasion, when I
was permitted to offer a brief prayer at his bedside, his last words
to me were that he had hope only in Christ, and that the prayer
which I had offered for his pardoning love, and his sanctifying grace,
included every thing which the dying need. On the evening previous to
his departure, sitting for an hour in silence by his side, I could not
but realize, when I heard him, in the slight wanderings of his mind to
other days, and other scenes, murmuring the words, ‘_My mother! Mother!
Mother!_’ and saying ‘_My dear wife!_’ as if she were present, and
frequently uttering aloud, as if in response to some silent Litany of
the soul, the simple prayer, ‘Lord, have mercy upon me!’――I could not
but realize then, and rejoice to think how near was the blessed rëunion
of his weary heart with the loved dead, and with her――Our dear Lord,
gently smooth her passage to the tomb!――who must soon follow him to his
rest――whose spirits even then seemed to visit, and to cheer his ♦memory
and his hope. Gently he breathed his soul away into the spirit world.

                ‘How blest the righteous when they die!
                   When holy souls retire to rest,
                 How mildly beams the closing eye,
                   How gently heaves the expiring breast!

                ‘So fades the summer cloud away,
                   So sinks the gale when storms are o’er,
                 So gently shuts the eye of day,
                   So dies the wave upon the shore!’

Be it ours to follow him, in the same humble and submissive faith, to
heaven. Could he speak to us the counsels of his latest human, and his
present heavenly, experience, sure I am that he would not only admonish
us to cling to the Saviour, in sickness and in death; but abjure us not
to delay to act upon our first convictions, that we might give our best
powers and fullest influence to God, and go to the grave with a hope,
unshadowed by the long worldliness of the past, or by the films of fear
and doubt resting over the future.

The strong staff is broken, and the beautiful rod is despoiled of its
grace and bloom; but in the light of the eternal promises, and by the
power of Christ’s resurrection, we joyfully anticipate the prospect
of seeing that broken staff erect, and that beautiful rod clothed with
celestial grace, and blossoming with undying life and blessedness in
the Paradise of God.

                             SPEECHES, &c.

                       ON DOMESTIC MANUFACTURES.


  [THIS is the first speech on record, of Mr. Clay’s efforts
  during his congressional career. He had been previously elected
  to fill a vacancy in the United States senate, for a single
  session, in 1806, during which, in 1807, he delivered an able
  speech on _internal improvement_, which we regret has not been
  preserved. In 1809, the legislature of Kentucky again elected
  him a United States senator, and in the following remarks, he
  avowed himself in favor of the policy of encouraging _domestic
  manufactures_, which policy he had before advocated in the
  legislature of his own state. His early support of these two
  branches of national policy, which he afterwards called ‘the
  _American System_,’ is thus shown by his two first speeches in
  congress, and his name and influence have become identified with
  the cause, of which he has always stood forth the distinguished


The local interest of the quarter of the country, which I have the
honor to represent, will apologize for the trouble I may give you
on this occasion. My colleague has proposed an amendment to the
bill before you, instructing the secretary of the navy, to provide
supplies of cordage, sail-cloth, hemp, &c. and to give a preference
to those of American growth and manufacture. It has been moved by the
gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Lloyd) to strike out this part of
the amendment; and, in the course of the discussion which has arisen,
remarks have been made on the general policy of promoting manufactures.
The propriety of this policy is, perhaps, not very intimately connected
with the subject before us; but it is, nevertheless, within the
legitimate and admissible scope of debate. Under this impression
I offer my sentiments.

In inculcating the advantages of domestic manufactures, it never
entered the head, I presume, of any one, to change the habits of the
nation from an agricultural to a manufacturing community. No one, I am
persuaded, ever thought of converting the ploughshare and the sickle
into the spindle and the shuttle. And yet this is the delusive and
erroneous view too often taken of the subject. The opponents of the
manufacturing system transport themselves to the establishments of
Manchester and Birmingham, and, dwelling on the indigence, vice, and
wretchedness prevailing there, by pushing it to an _extreme_, argue
that its introduction into this country will necessarily be attended
by the same mischievous and dreadful consequences. But what is the
fact? That England is the manufacturer of a great part of the world;
and that, even there, the numbers thus employed bear an inconsiderable
proportion to the whole mass of population. Were we to become the
manufacturers of other nations, effects of the same kind might result.
But if we _limit_ our efforts, by our own wants, the evils apprehended
would be found to be chimerical. The invention and improvement of
machinery, for which the present age is so remarkable, dispensing in
a great degree with manual labor; and the employment of those persons,
who, if we were engaged in the pursuit of agriculture alone, would
be either unproductive, or exposed to indolence and immorality;
will enable us to supply our wants without withdrawing our attention
from agriculture――that first and greatest source of national wealth
and happiness. A judicious American farmer, in the household way,
manufactures whatever is requisite for his family. He squanders but
little in the gewgaws of Europe. He presents in epitome, what the
nation ought to be _in extenso_. Their manufactories should bear
the same proportion, and effect the same object in relation to the
whole community, which the part of his household employed in domestic
manufacturing, bears to the whole family. It is certainly desirable,
that the exports of the country should continue to be the surplus
production of tillage, and not become those of manufacturing
establishments. But it is important to diminish our imports; to furnish
ourselves with clothing, made by our own industry; and to cease to
be dependent, for the very coats we wear, upon a foreign and perhaps
inimical country. The nation that imports its clothing from abroad is
but little less dependent than if it imported its bread.

The fallacious course of reasoning urged against domestic manufactures,
namely, the distress and servitude produced by those of England, would
equally indicate the propriety of abandoning agriculture itself. Were
you to cast your eyes upon the miserable peasantry of Poland, and
revert to the days of feudal vassalage, you might thence draw numerous
arguments, of the kind now under consideration, against the pursuits
of the husbandman! What would become of commerce, the favorite theme
of some gentlemen, if assailed with this sort of weapon? The fraud,
perjury, cupidity, and corruption, with which it is unhappily too often
attended, would at once produce its overthrow. In short, sir, take the
black side of the picture, and every human occupation will be found
pregnant with fatal objections.

The opposition to manufacturing institutions recalls to my recollection
the case of a gentleman, of whom I have heard. He had been in the habit
of supplying his table from a neighboring cook, and confectioner’s
shop, and proposed to his wife a reform, in this particular. She
revolted at the idea. The sight of a scullion was dreadful, and her
delicate nerves could not bear the clattering of kitchen furniture. The
gentleman persisted in his design; his table was thenceforth cheaper
and better supplied, and his neighbor, the confectioner, lost one of
his best customers. In like manner dame Commerce will oppose domestic
manufactures. She is a flirting, flippant, noisy jade, and if we are
governed by her fantasies, we shall never put off the muslins of India
and the cloths of Europe. But I trust that the yeomanry of the country,
the true and genuine landlords of this tenement, called the United
States, disregarding her freaks, will persevere in reform, until
the whole national family is furnished by itself with the clothing
necessary for its own use.

It is a subject no less of curiosity than of interest, to trace the
prejudices in favor of foreign fabrics. In our colonial condition, we
were in a complete state of dependence on the parent country, as it
respected manufactures, as well as commerce. For many years after the
war, such was the partiality for her productions, in this country,
that a gentleman’s head could not withstand the influence of solar
heat, unless covered with a London hat; his feet could not bear the
pebbles, or frost, unless protected by London shoes; and the comfort
or ornament of his person was only consulted when his coat was cut out
by the shears of a tailor ‘just from London.’ At length, however, the
wonderful _discovery_ has been made, that it is not absolutely beyond
the reach of American skill and ingenuity, to provide these articles,
combining with equal elegance greater durability. And I entertain
no doubt, that, in a short time, the no less important fact will
be developed, that the domestic manufactories of the United States,
fostered by government, and aided by household exertions, are fully
competent to supply us with at least every necessary article of
clothing. I therefore, sir, _for one_ (to use the fashionable cant
of the day), am in favor of encouraging them, not to the extent to
which they are carried in England, but to such an extent as will
redeem us entirely from all dependence on foreign countries. There is a
pleasure――a pride (if I may be allowed the expression, and I pity those
who cannot feel the sentiment,)――in being clad in the productions of
our own families. Others may prefer the cloths of Leeds and of London,
but give me those of Humphreysville.

Aid may be given to native institutions in the form of bounties and
of protecting duties. But against bounties it is urged, that you tax
the _whole_ for the benefit of a _part_ only, of the community; and
in opposition to duties it is alleged, that you make the interest
of one part, the consumer, bend to the interest of another part, the
manufacturer. The sufficiency of the answer is not always admitted,
that the sacrifice is merely temporary, being ultimately compensated
by the greater abundance and superiority of the article produced by the
stimulus. But, of all practicable forms of encouragement, it might have
been expected, that the one under consideration would escape opposition,
if every thing proposed in congress were not doomed to experience
it. What is it? The bill contains two provisions――one prospective,
anticipating the appropriation for clothing for the army, and the
amendment proposes extending it to naval supplies, for the year
1811――and the other, directing a preference to be given to home
manufactures, and productions, whenever it can be done _without
material detriment to the public service_. The object of the first
is, to authorize contracts to be made beforehand, with manufacturers,
and by making advances to them, under proper security, to enable them
to supply the articles wanted, in sufficient quantity. When it is
recollected that they are frequently men of limited capitals, it will
be acknowledged that this kind of assistance, bestowed with prudence,
will be productive of the best results. It is, in fact, only pursuing a
principle long acted upon, of advancing to contractors with government,
on account of the magnitude of their engagements. The appropriation
contemplated to be made for the year 1811, may be restricted to such
a sum as, whether we have peace or war, we must necessarily expend.
The discretion is proposed to be vested in officers of high confidence,
who will be responsible for its abuse, and who are enjoined to see
that the public service receives no _material detriment_. It is stated,
that hemp is now very high, and that contracts, made under existing
circumstances, will be injurious to government. But the amendment
creates no obligation upon the secretary of the navy, to go into market
at this precise moment. In fact, by enlarging his sphere of action, it
admits of his taking advantage of a favorable fluctuation, and getting
a supply below the accustomed price, if such a fall should occur prior
to the usual annual appropriation.

I consider the amendment, under consideration, of the first importance,
in point of principle. It is evident, that whatever doubt may be
entertained, as to the general policy of the manufacturing system, none
can exist, as to the propriety of our being able to furnish ourselves
with articles of the first necessity, in time of war. Our maritime
operations ought not, in such a state, to depend upon the casualties
of foreign supply. It is not necessary that they should. With very
little encouragement from government, I believe we shall not want a
pound of Russia hemp. The increase of the article in Kentucky has been
rapidly great. Ten years ago there were but two rope manufactories in
the state. Now there are about twenty, and between ten and fifteen of
cotton bagging; and the erection of new ones keeps pace with the annual
augmentation of the quantity of hemp. Indeed, the western country,
alone, is not only adequate to the supply of whatever of this article
is requisite for our own consumption, but is capable of affording
a surplus for foreign markets. The amendment proposed possesses the
double recommendation of encouraging, at the same time, both the
manufacture and the growth of hemp. For by increasing the demand for
the wrought article, you also increase the demand for the raw material,
and consequently present new incentives to its cultivator.

The three great subjects that claim the attention of the national
legislature, are the interests of agriculture, commerce, and
manufactures. We have had before us, a proposition to afford a manly
protection to the rights of commerce, and how has it been treated?
Rejected! You have been solicited to promote agriculture, by increasing
the facilities of internal communication, through the means of canals
and roads, and what has been done? Postponed! We are now called upon
to give a trifling support to our domestic manufactures, and shall we
close the circle of congressional inefficiency, by adding this also to
the catalogue?

                      ON THE LINE OF THE PERDIDO.


  [THE _Perdido_ is the name of a river and bay, which form the
  boundary line between the present state of Alabama and Florida.
  It will be recollected, that Florida was a Spanish colony,
  previous to its cession to the United States by Spain, in 1819.
  It was discovered by Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spanish navigator,
  in 1512, and by him it was called Florida. The French made an
  attempt to colonize the territory in 1562, but their settlement
  was broken up by the Spaniards, who founded, in 1565, the city
  of St. Augustine, in East Florida. Pensacola, in West Florida,
  was founded in 1699. Though often invaded by the French and
  English, Florida remained part of Spanish America until 1763,
  when it was ceded to Great Britain: but, by the definitive
  treaty of 1783, it was receded by Great Britain to Spain. When
  Florida was a colony of Spain, and Louisiana of France, or from
  1699 to 1763, the Perdido river was a common boundary, but,
  by the treaty of 1763, Louisiana having been ceded by France
  to Spain, the Spaniards in 1769, for their own convenience,
  incorporated that part of Louisiana, between the Mississippi
  and Perdido rivers, with Florida. This act caused a controversy
  between Spain and the United States; the latter having purchased
  Louisiana of France, in 1803, to which power it had been ceded
  by Spain, in 1800. President Madison, in 1810, took possession
  of the territory in dispute, for which act he was assailed by
  the opposition members in the senate, particularly by Mr. Horsey,
  of Delaware; to whom Mr. Clay replied, in defence of the
  administration, as follows.]


IT would have gratified me if some other gentleman had undertaken to
reply to the ingenious argument, which you have just heard. (Speech of
Mr. Horsey.) But not perceiving any one disposed to do so, a sense of
duty obliges me, though very unwell, to claim your indulgence, whilst
I offer my sentiments on this subject, so interesting to the union at
large, but especially to the western portion of it. Allow me, sir, to
express my admiration at the more than Aristidean justice, which, in a
question of territorial title between the United States and a foreign
nation, induces certain gentlemen to espouse the pretensions of the
foreign nation. Doubtless, in any future negotiations, she will have
too much magnanimity to avail herself of these spontaneous concessions
in her favor, made on the floor of the senate of the United States.

It was to have been expected, that, in a question like the present,
gentlemen, even on the same side, would have different views, and
although arriving at a common conclusion, would do so by various
arguments. And hence the honorable gentleman from Vermont, entertains
doubt with regard to our title against Spain, whilst he feels entirely
satisfied of it against France. Believing, as I do, that our title
against both powers is indisputable, under the treaty of St. Ildefonso,
between Spain and France, and the treaty between the French republic
and the United States, I shall not inquire into the treachery, by
which the king of Spain is alleged to have lost his crown; nor shall
I stop to discuss the question involved in the overthrow of the Spanish
monarchy, and how far the power of Spain ought to be considered as
merged in that of France. I shall leave the honorable gentleman from
Delaware to mourn over the fortunes of the fallen Charles. I have no
commiseration for princes. My sympathies are reserved for the great
mass of mankind, and I own that the people of Spain have them most

I will adopt the course suggested by the nature of the subject, and
pursued by other gentlemen, of examining into our title to the country
lying between the Mississippi and the Rio Perdido, (which, to avoid
circumlocution, I will call West Florida, although it is not the
whole of it,) and the propriety of the recent measures taken for the
occupation of that territory. Our title, then, depends, first, upon the
limits of the province or colony of Louisiana, and, secondly, upon a
just exposition of the treaties before mentioned.

On this occasion it is only necessary to fix the eastern boundary. In
order to ascertain this, it will be proper to take a cursory view of
the settlement of the country, because the basis of European title to
colonies in America, is prior discovery, or prior occupancy. In 1682,
La Salle migrated from Canada, then owned by France, descended the
Mississippi, and named the country which it waters, Louisiana. About
1698, D’Iberville discovered, by sea, the mouth of the Mississippi,
established a colony at the Isle Dauphine, or Massacre, which lies
at the mouth of the bay of Mobile, and one at the mouth of the river
Mobile, and was appointed, by France, governor of the country. In the
year 1717, the famous West India Company sent inhabitants to the Isle
Dauphine, and found some of those who had been settled there under
the auspices of D’Iberville. About the same period, Baloxi, near the
Pascagoula, was settled. In 1719, the city of New Orleans was laid off,
and the seat of government of Louisiana was established there; and in
1736 the French erected a fort on Tombigbee. These facts prove that
France had the actual possession of the country as far east as the
Mobile, at least. But the great instrument which ascertains, beyond all
doubt, that the country in question is comprehended within the limits
of Louisiana, is one of the most authentic and solemn character which
the archives of a nation can furnish; I mean the patent granted in 1712,
by Louis XIV, to Crozat. [Here Mr. C. read such parts of the patent
as were applicable to the subject.[2]] According to this document, in
describing the province or colony of Louisiana, it is declared to be
bounded by Carolina on the east, and Old and New Mexico on the west.
Under this high record evidence, it might be insisted that we have a
fair claim to East as well as West Florida, against France, at least,
unless she has, by some convention, or other obligatory act, restricted
the eastern limit of the province. It has, indeed, been asserted,
that, by a treaty between France and Spain, concluded in the year 1719,
the Perdido was expressly stipulated to be the boundary between their
respective provinces of Florida on the east, and Louisiana on the west;
but as I have been unable to find any such treaty, I am induced to
doubt its existence.

About the same period, to wit, towards the close of the seventeenth
century, when France settled the Isle Dauphine, and the Mobile,
Spain erected a fort at Pensacola. But Spain never pushed her actual
settlements, or conquests, farther west than the bay of Pensacola,
whilst those of the French were bounded on the east by the Mobile.
Between those two points, a space of about thirteen or fourteen leagues,
neither nation had the exclusive possession. The Rio Perdido, forming
the bay of the same name, discharges itself into the Gulf of Mexico,
between the Mobile and Pensacola, and, being a natural and the most
notorious object between them presented itself as a suitable boundary
between the possessions of the two nations. It accordingly appears very
early to have been adopted as the boundary, by tacit if not expressed
consent. The ancient charts and historians, therefore, of the country,
so represent it. Dupratz, one of the most accurate historians of the
time, in point of fact and detail, whose work was published as early
as 1758, describes the coast as being bounded on the east by the Rio
Perdido. In truth, sir, no European nation whatever, except France,
ever occupied any portion of West Florida, prior to her cession of it
to England, in 1762. The gentlemen on the other side do not, indeed,
strongly controvert, if they do not expressly admit, that Louisiana,
as held by the French anterior to her cessions of it in 1762, extended
to the Perdido. The only observation made by the gentleman from
Delaware to the contrary, to wit, that the island of New Orleans, being
particularly mentioned, could not, for that reason, constitute a part
of Louisiana, is susceptible of a very satisfactory answer. That island
was excepted out of the grant to England, and was the only part of the
province east of the river that was so excepted. It formed in itself
one of the most prominent and important objects of the cession to
Spain originally, and was transferred to her with the portion of the
province west of the Mississippi. It might with equal propriety be
urged that St. Augustine is not in East Florida, because St. Augustine
is expressly mentioned by Spain in her cession of that province to
England. From this view of the subject, I think it results that the
province of Louisiana comprised West Florida, previous to the year 1762.

What was done with it at this epoch? By a secret convention of the
third of November, of that year, France ceded the country lying west
of the Mississippi, and the island of New Orleans, to Spain; and by a
contemporaneous act, the articles preliminary to the definitive treaty
of 1763, she transferred West Florida to England. Thus, at the same
instant of time, she alienated the whole province. Posterior to this
grant, Great Britain, having also acquired from Spain her possessions
east of the Mississippi, erected the country into two provinces, East
and West Florida. In this state of things it continued until the peace
of 1783, when Great Britain, in consequence of the events of the war,
surrendered the country to Spain, who, for the _first_ time, came into
actual possession of West Florida. Well, sir, how does she dispose
of it? She reannexes it to the residue of Louisiana――extends the
jurisdiction of that government to it, and subjects the governors, or
commandants, of the districts of Baton Rouge, Feliciana, Mobile, and
Pensacola, to the authority of the governor of Louisiana, residing
at New Orleans; while the governor of East Florida is placed wholly
without his control, and is made amenable directly to the governor
of the Havannah. Indeed, sir, I have been credibly informed, that all
the concessions, or grants of land, made in West Florida, under the
authority of Spain, run in the name of the _government of Louisiana_.
You cannot have forgotten that, about the period when we took
possession of New Orleans, under the treaty of cession from France,
the whole country resounded with the nefarious speculations, which
were alleged to be making in that city with the connivance, if not
actual participation, of the Spanish authorities, by the procurement of
surreptitious grants of land, particularly in the district of Feliciana.
West Florida, then, not only as France had held it, but as it was in
the hands of Spain, made a part of the province of Louisiana; as much
so as the jurisdiction or district of Baton Rouge constituted a part of
West Florida.

What, then, is the true construction of the treaties of St. Ildefonso,
and of April, 1803, from whence our title is derived? If an ambiguity
exist in a grant, the interpretation most favorable to the grantee is
preferred. It was the duty of the grantor to have expressed himself in
plain and intelligible terms. This is the doctrine, not of Coke only,
(whose dicta I admit have nothing to do with the question,) but of the
code of universal law. The doctrine is entitled to augmented force,
when a clause only of the instrument is exhibited, in which clause the
ambiguity lurks, and the residue of the instrument is kept back by the
grantor. The entire convention of 1762, by which France transferred
Louisiana to Spain, is concealed, and the whole of the treaty of
St. Ildefonso, except a solitary clause. We are thus deprived of the
aid which a full view of both of those instruments would afford. But
we have no occasion to resort to any rules of construction, however
reasonable in themselves, to establish our title. A competent knowledge
of the facts connected with the case, and a candid appeal to the
treaties, are alone sufficient to manifest our right. The negotiators
of the treaty of 1803, having signed, with the same ceremony, two
copies, one in English and the other in the French language, it has
been contended, that in the English version the term ‘cede’ has been
erroneously used instead of ‘retrocede,’ which is the expression in the
French copy. And it is argued, that we are bound by the phraseology of
the French copy, because it is declared that the treaty was agreed to
in that language. It would not be very unfair to inquire, if this is
not like the common case in private life, where individuals enter into
a contract of which each party retains a copy, duly executed. In such
case, neither has the preference. We might as well say to France, we
will cling by the English copy, as she could insist upon an adherence
to the French copy; and if she urged ignorance on the part of Mr.
Marbois, her negotiator, of our language, we might with equal propriety
plead ignorance, on the part of our negotiators, of her language. As
this, however, is a disputable point, I do not avail myself of it;
gentlemen shall have the full benefit of the expressions in the French
copy. According to this, then, in reciting the treaty of St. Ildefonso,
it is declared by Spain, in 1800, that she retrocedes to France, the
colony or province of Louisiana, with the same extent which it then
had in the hands of Spain, and which it had when France possessed it,
and such as it should be after the treaties subsequently entered into
between Spain and other states. This latter member of the description
has been sufficiently explained by my colleague.

It is said, that since France, in 1762, ceded to Spain only
Louisiana west of the Mississippi, and the Island of New Orleans,
the retrocession comprehended no more――that the retrocession _ex vi
termini_ was commensurate with and limited by the direct cession from
France to Spain. If this were true, then the description, such as
Spain held it, that is, in 1800, comprising West Florida, and such as
France possessed it, that is, in 1762, prior to the several cessions,
comprising also West Florida, would be totally inoperative. But the
definition of the term retrocession contended for by the other side is
denied. It does not exclude the instrumentality of a third party. It
means restoration, or reconveyance of a thing originally ceded, and
so the gentleman from Delaware acknowledged. I admit that the thing
restored, must have come to the restoring party from the party to whom
it is retroceded; whether directly or indirectly is wholly immaterial.
In its passage, it may have come through a dozen hands. The retroceding
party must claim _under_ and in virtue of the right originally
possessed by the party to whom the retrocession takes place. Allow
me to put a case. You own an estate called Louisiana. You convey one
moiety of it to the gentleman from Delaware, and the other to me; he
conveys his moiety to me, and I thus become entitled to the whole.
By a suitable instrument, I reconvey, or retrocede the estate called
Louisiana to you as I now hold it, and as you held it; what passes
to you? The whole estate or my moiety only? Let me indulge another
supposition――that the gentleman from Delaware, after he received from
you his moiety, bestowed a new denomination upon it and called it
West Florida; would that circumstance vary the operation of my act
of retrocession to you? The case supposed, is, in truth, the real
one between the United States and Spain. France, in 1762, transfers
Louisiana, west of the Mississippi, to Spain, and at the same time
conveys the eastern portion of it, exclusive of New Orleans, to Great
Britain. Twenty-one years after, that is, in 1783, Great Britain cedes
her part to Spain, who thus becomes possessed of the entire province;
one portion by direct cession from France, and the residue by indirect
cession. Spain, then, held the whole of Louisiana _under_ France, and
in virtue of the title of France. The whole moved or passed from France
to her. When, therefore, in this state of things, she says, in the
treaty of St. Ildefonso, that she retrocedes the province to France,
can a doubt exist that she parts with, and gives back to France the
entire colony? To preclude the possibility of such a doubt, she adds,
that she restores it, not in a mutilated condition, but in that precise
condition in which France had and she herself possessed it.

Having thus shown, as I conceive, a clear right in the United States
to West Florida, I proceed to inquire, if the proclamation of the
president directing the occupation of property, which is thus fairly
acquired by solemn treaty, be an unauthorized measure of war and of
legislation, as has been contended?

The act of October, 1803, contains two sections, by one of which the
president is authorized to occupy the territories ceded to us by France
in the April preceding. The other empowers the president to establish
a provisional government there. The first section is unlimited in
its duration; the other is restricted to the expiration of the then
session of congress. The act, therefore, of March, 1804, declaring
that the previous act of October should continue in force until the
first of October, 1804, is applicable to the second and not the first
section, and was intended to continue the provisional government of
the president. By the act of twenty-fourth February, 1804, for laying
duties on goods imported into the ceded territories, the president is
empowered _whenever he deems it expedient_ to erect the bay and river
Mobile, &c. into a separate district, and to establish therein a port
of entry and delivery. By this same act the Orleans territory is laid
off, and its boundaries are so defined, as to comprehend West Florida.
By other acts the president is authorized to remove by force, under
certain circumstances, persons settling on, or taking possession of
lands ceded to the United States.

These laws furnish a legislative construction of the treaty,
corresponding with that given by the executive, and they indisputably
vest in this branch of the general government the power to take
possession of the country, whenever it might be proper in his
discretion. The president has not, therefore, violated the constitution
and usurped the war-making power, but he would have violated that
provision which requires him to see that the laws are faithfully
executed, if he had longer forborne to act. It is urged, that he has
assumed powers belonging to congress, in undertaking to annex the
portion of West Florida, between the Mississippi and the Perdido, to
the Orleans territory. But congress, as has been shown, has already
made this annexation, the limits of the Orleans territory, as
prescribed by congress, comprehending the country in question. The
president, by his proclamation, has not made law, but has merely
declared to the people of West Florida, what the law is. This is the
office of a proclamation, and it was highly proper that the people
of that territory should be thus notified. By the act of occupying
the country, the government _de facto_, whether of Spain, or the
revolutionists, ceased to exist; and the laws of the Orleans territory,
applicable to the country, by the operation and force of law, attached
to it. But this was a state of things which the people might not know,
and which every dictate of justice and humanity, therefore, required
should be proclaimed. I consider the bill before us merely in the light
of a declaratory law.

Never could a more propitious moment present itself, for the exercise
of the discretionary power placed in the president; and, had he failed
to embrace it, he would have been criminally inattentive to the dearest
interests of this country. It cannot be too often repeated, that if
Cuba on the one hand, and Florida on the other, are in the possession
of a foreign maritime power, the immense extent of country belonging
to the United States, and watered by streams discharging themselves
into the Gulf of Mexico――that is, one third, nay, more than two thirds
of the United States, comprehending Louisiana, are placed at the mercy
of that power. The possession of Florida is a guarantee absolutely
necessary to the enjoyment of the navigation of those streams. The
gentleman from Delaware anticipates the most direful consequences,
from the occupation of the country. He supposes a sally from a Spanish
garrison upon the American forces, and asks what is to be done? We
attempt a peaceful possession of the country to which we are fairly
entitled. If the wrongful occupants, under the authority of Spain,
assail our troops, I trust they will retrieve the lost honor of the
nation, in the case of the Chesapeake. Suppose an attack upon any
portion of the American army, within the acknowledged limits of the
United States, by a Spanish force? In such event, there would exist
but a single honorable and manly course. The gentleman conceives it
ungenerous, that we should at this moment, when Spain is encompassed
and pressed, on all sides, by the immense power of her enemy, occupy
West Florida. Shall we sit by, passive spectators, and witness the
interesting transactions of that country――transactions which tend, in
the most imminent degree, to jeopardize our rights, without attempting
to interfere? Are you prepared to see a foreign power seize what
belongs to us? I have heard, in the most credible manner, that, about
the period when the president took his measures in relation to that
country, agents of a foreign power were intriguing with the people
there, to induce them to come under his dominion; but whether this
be the fact or not, it cannot be doubted, that, if you neglect the
present auspicious moment, if you reject the proffered boon, some other
nation, profiting by your errors, will seize the occasion to get a
fatal footing in your southern frontier. I have no hesitation in saying,
that if a parent country will not or cannot maintain its authority, in
a colony adjacent to us, and there exists in it a state of misrule and
disorder, menacing our peace; and if, moreover, such colony, by passing
into the hands of any other power, would become dangerous to the
integrity of the union, and manifestly lend to the subversion of our
laws; we have a right, upon the eternal principles of self-preservation,
to lay hold upon it. This principle alone, independent of any title,
would warrant our occupation of West Florida. But it is not necessary
to resort to it――our title being, in my judgment, incontestably good.
We are told of the vengeance of resuscitated Spain. If Spain, under
any modification of her government, choose to make war upon us, for the
act under consideration, the nation, I have no doubt, will be willing
to embark in such a contest. But the gentleman reminds us that Great
Britain, the ally of Spain, may be obliged, by her connection with that
country, to take part with her against us, and to consider this measure
of the president as justifying an appeal to arms. Sir, is the time
never to arrive, when we may manage our own affairs without the fear
of insulting his Britannic majesty? Is the rod of British power to
be for ever suspended over our heads? Does congress put on an embargo
to shelter our rightful commerce against the piratical depredations
committed upon it on the ocean? We are immediately warned of the
indignation of offended England. Is a law of non-intercourse proposed?
The whole navy of the haughty mistress of the seas, is made to thunder
in our ears. Does the president refuse to continue a correspondence
with a minister, who violates the decorum belonging to his diplomatic
character, by giving and deliberately repeating an affront to the whole
nation? We are instantly menaced with the chastisement which English
pride will not fail to inflict. Whether we assert our rights by sea,
or attempt their maintenance by land――whithersoever we turn ourselves,
this phantom incessantly pursues us. Already has it had too much
influence on the councils of the nation. It contributed to the repeal
of the embargo――that dishonorable repeal, which has so much tarnished
the character of our government. Mr. President, I have before said on
this floor, and now take occasion to remark, that I most sincerely
desire peace and amity with England; that I even prefer an adjustment
of all differences with her, before one with any other nation. But if
she persists in a denial of justice to us, or if she avails herself of
the occupation of West Florida, to commence war upon us, I trust and
hope that all hearts will unite, in a bold and vigorous vindication of
our rights. I do not believe, however, in the prediction, that war will
be the effect of the measure in question.

It is asked, why, some years ago, when the interruption of the right
of deposit took place at New Orleans, the government did not declare
war against Spain; and how it has happened, that there has been this
long acquiescence in the Spanish possession of West Florida. The answer
is obvious. It consists in the genius of the nation, which is prone to
peace; in that desire to arrange, by friendly negotiation, our disputes
with all nations, which has constantly influenced the present and
preceding administration; and in the jealousy of armies, with which
we have been inspired by the melancholy experience of free estates.
But a new state of things has arisen; negotiation has become hopeless.
The power with whom it was to be conducted, if not annihilated, is
in a situation that precludes it; and the subject matter of it is in
danger of being snatched for ever from our power. Longer delay would
be construed into a dereliction of our right, and would amount to
treachery to ourselves. May I ask, in my turn, why certain gentlemen,
now so fearful of war, were so urgent for it with Spain, when she
withheld the right of deposit? and still later, when in 1805 or 6, this
very subject of the actual limits of Louisiana, was before congress? I
will not say, because I do not know that I am authorized to say, _that
the motive is to be found_ in the change of relation, between Spain and
other European powers, since those periods.

Does the honorable gentleman from Delaware really believe, that he
finds in St. Domingo a case parallel with that of West Florida? and
that our government, having interdicted an illicit commerce with the
former, ought not to have interposed in relation to the latter? It is
scarcely necessary to consume your time by remarking, that we had no
pretensions to that island; that it did not menace our repose, nor did
the safety of the United States require that they should occupy it.
It became, therefore, our duty to attend to the just remonstrance of
France, against American citizens’ supplying the rebels with the means
of resisting her power.

I am not, sir, in favour of cherishing the passion of conquest. But
I must be permitted, in conclusion, to indulge the hope of seeing, ere
long, the _new_ United States (if you will allow me the expression)
embracing, not only the old thirteen States, but the entire country
east of the Mississippi, including East Florida, and some of the
territories of the north of us also.



  [THE Bank of the United States, which was incorporated by an act
  of congress, during the administration of general Washington, in
  1791, having applied to congress for a renewal of its charter,
  which was to expire, by limitation, in 1811; the question came
  up first for decision in the senate. The renewal was advocated
  by the federal members, and by Mr. Crawford, of Georgia, Mr.
  Pope, the colleague of Mr. Clay, also by a few other democratic
  senators; and the bill was finally defeated, by the casting
  vote of the vice president (George Clinton). Mr. Clay, having
  been instructed by the legislature of Kentucky to oppose the
  renewal of the charter, acted in obedience to those instructions,
  notwithstanding the opposite course of his colleague. His
  argument against the bill, shows that he then believed the bank
  charter unconstitutional――an opinion which subsequent reflection
  and examination induced him to reverse, some years afterwards.
  In this change of opinion, he was sustained by the example of
  Mr. Madison, who signed the charter of the bank, incorporated in
  1816, and other eminent statesmen. This being the only subject
  of great importance on which Mr. Clay has been known to have
  changed his views of national policy, during his long public
  career, the following speech will be read with much interest.]


When the subject involved in the motion now under consideration was
depending before the other branch of the legislature, a disposition
to acquiesce in their decision was evinced. For although the committee
who reported this bill, had been raised many weeks prior to the
determination of that house, on the proposition to recharter the bank,
except the occasional reference to it of memorials and petitions, we
scarcely ever heard of it. The rejection, it is true, of a measure
brought before either branch of congress, does not absolutely preclude
the other from taking up the same proposition; but the economy of
our time, and a just deference for the opinion of others, would seem
to recommend a delicate and cautious exercise of this power. As this
subject, at the memorable period when the charter was granted, called
forth the best talents of the nation, as it has, on various occasions,
undergone the most thorough investigation, and as we can hardly expect
that it is susceptible of receiving any further elucidation, it was
to be hoped that we should have been spared useless debate. This
was the more desirable, because there are, I conceive, much superior
claims upon us, for every hour of the small portion of the session yet
remaining to us. Under the operation of these motives, I had resolved
to give a silent vote, until I felt myself bound, by the defying
manner of the arguments advanced in support of the renewal, to obey
the paramount duties I owe my country and its constitution; to make
one effort, however feeble, to avert the passage of what appears to me
a most unjustifiable law. After my honorable friend from Virginia (Mr.
Giles) had instructed and amused us, with the very able and ingenious
argument, which he delivered on yesterday, I should have still forborne
to trespass on the senate, but for the extraordinary character of his
speech. He discussed both sides of the question, with great ability and
eloquence, and certainly demonstrated, to the satisfaction of all who
heard him, both that it was constitutional and unconstitutional, highly
proper and improper, to prolong the charter of the bank. The honorable
gentleman appeared to me in the predicament in which the celebrated
orator of Virginia, Patrick Henry, is said to have been once placed.
Engaged in a most extensive and lucrative practice of the law, he
mistook, in one instance, the side of the cause in which he was
retained, and addressed the court and jury in a very masterly and
convincing speech, in behalf of his antagonist. His distracted client
came up to him, whilst he was thus employed, and, interrupting him,
bitterly exclaimed, ‘you have undone me! You have ruined me!’ ‘Never
mind, give yourself no concern,’ said the adroit advocate; and, turning
to the court and jury, continued his argument, by observing, ‘may it
please your honors, and you, gentlemen of the jury, I have been stating
to you what I presume my adversary may urge on his side. I will now
show you how fallacious his reasonings, and groundless his pretensions,
are.’ The skilful orator proceeded, satisfactorily refuted every
argument he had advanced, and gained his cause!――a success with which
I trust the exertion of my honorable friend will on this occasion be

It has been said, by the honorable gentleman from Georgia
(Mr. Crawford), that this has been made a party question; although the
law incorporating the bank was passed prior to the formation of parties,
and when congress was not biassed by party prejudices. (Mr. Crawford
explained. He did not mean, that it had been made a party question in
the senate. His allusion was elsewhere.) I do not think it altogether
fair, to refer to the discussions in the house of representatives, as
gentlemen belonging to that body have no opportunity of defending
themselves here. It is true that this law was not the effect, but it is
no less true that it was one of the causes, of the political divisions
in this country. And if, during the agitation of the present question,
the renewal has, on one side, been opposed on party principles, let me
ask if, on the other, it has not been advocated on similar principles.
Where is the Macedonian phalanx, the opposition, in congress? I believe,
sir, I shall not incur the charge of presumptuous prophecy, when I
predict we shall not pick up from its ranks one single straggler! And
if, on this occasion, my worthy friend from Georgia has gone over into
the camp of the enemy, is it kind in him to look back upon his former
friends, and rebuke them for the fidelity with which they adhere to
their old principles?

I shall not stop to examine how far a representative is bound by the
instructions of his constituents. That is a question between the giver
and receiver of the instructions. But I must be permitted to express
my surprise at the pointed difference which has been made between the
opinions and instructions of state legislatures, and the opinions and
details of the deputations with which we have been surrounded from
Philadelphia. Whilst the resolutions of those legislatures――known,
legitimate, constitutional, and deliberative bodies――have been thrown
into the back-ground, and their interference regarded as officious;
these delegations from self-created societies, composed of nobody knows
whom, have been received by the committee, with the utmost complaisance.
Their communications have been treasured up with the greatest diligence.
Never did the Delphic priests collect with more holy care the frantic
expressions of the agitated Pythia, or expound them with more solemnity
to the astonished Grecians, than has the committee gathered the
opinions and testimonies of these deputies, and, through the gentleman
from Massachusetts, pompously detailed them to the senate! Philadelphia
has her immediate representatives, capable of expressing her wishes,
upon the floor of the other house. If it be improper for states to
obtrude upon congress their sentiments, it is much more highly so, for
the unauthorized deputies of fortuitous congregations.

The first singular feature that attracts attention in this bill,
is the new and unconstitutional veto which it establishes. The
constitution has required only, that after bills have passed the house
of representatives and the senate, they shall be presented to the
president, for his approval or rejection; and his determination is to
be made known in ten days. But this bill provides, that when all the
constitutional sanctions are obtained, and when, according to the usual
routine of legislation, it ought to be considered as a law, it is to
be submitted to a new branch of the legislature, consisting of the
president and twenty-four directors of the bank of the United States,
holding their sessions in Philadelphia; and if they please to approve
it, why then is it to become a law! And three months (the term allowed
by our law of May last, to one of the great belligerents, for revoking
his edicts, after the other shall have repealed his) are granted
them, to decide whether an act of congress shall be the law of the
land or not!――an act which is said to be indispensably necessary to
our salvation, and without the passage of which, universal distress
and bankruptcy are to pervade the country. Remember, sir, that the
honorable gentleman from Georgia, has contended that this charter is
no contract. Does it, then, become the representatives of the nation,
to leave the nation at the mercy of a corporation? Ought the impending
calamities to be left to the hazard of a contingent remedy?

This vagrant power to erect a bank, after having wandered throughout
the whole constitution in quest of some congenial spot to fasten
upon, has been at length located by the gentleman from Georgia on that
provision which authorizes congress to lay and collect taxes, &c. In
1791, the power is referred to one part of the instrument; in 1811,
to another. Sometimes it is alleged to be deducible from the power to
regulate commerce. Hard pressed here, it disappears, and shows itself
under the grant to coin money. The sagacious secretary of the treasury,
in 1791, pursued the wisest course; he has taken shelter behind general
high sounding and imposing terms. He has declared, in the preamble
to the act establishing the bank, that it will be very _conducive_ to
the successful _conducting_ of the national _finances_; will _tend_
to give _facility_ to the obtaining of loans, and will be _productive_
of considerable advantage to _trade_ and _industry_ in general. No
allusion is made to the collection of taxes. What is the nature of
this government? It is emphatically federal, vested with an aggregate
of specified powers for general purposes, conceded by existing
sovereignties, who have themselves retained what is not so conceded.
It is said that there are cases in which it must act on implied powers.
This is not controverted, but the implication must be necessary, and
obviously flow from the enumerated power with which it is allied. The
power to charter companies is not specified in the grant, and I contend
is of a nature not transferable by mere implication. It is one of
the most exalted attributes of sovereignty. In the exercise of this
gigantic power we have seen an East India Company created, which has
carried dismay, desolation, and death, throughout one of the largest
portions of the habitable world――a company which is, in itself, a
sovereignty, which has subverted empires and set up new dynasties,
and has not only made war, but war against its legitimate sovereign!
Under the influence of this power, we have seen arise a South Sea
Company, and a Mississippi Company, that distracted and convulsed all
Europe, and menaced a total overthrow of all credit and confidence,
and universal bankruptcy. Is it to be imagined that a power so vast
would have been left by the wisdom of the constitution to doubtful
inference? It has been alleged that there are many instances, in the
constitution, where powers in their nature incidental, and which would
have necessarily been vested along with the principal, are nevertheless
expressly enumerated; and the power ‘to make rules and regulations
for the government of the land and naval forces,’ which it is said is
incidental to the power to raise armies and provide a navy, is given as
an example. What does this prove? How extremely cautious the convention
were to leave as little as possible to implication. In all cases where
incidental powers are acted upon, the principal and incidental ought
to be congenial with each other, and partake of a common nature. The
incidental power ought to be strictly subordinate and limited to the
end proposed to be attained by the specified power. In other words,
under the name of accomplishing one object which is specified, the
power implied ought not to be made to embrace other objects, which
are not specified in the constitution. If, then, you could establish
a bank, to collect and distribute the revenue, it ought to be expressly
restricted to the purpose of such collection and distribution. It is
mockery, worse than usurpation, to establish it for a lawful object,
and then to extend it to other objects which are not lawful. In
deducing the power to create corporations, such as I have described
it, from the power to collect taxes, the relation and condition of
principal and incident are prostrated and destroyed. The accessory is
exalted above the principal. As well might it be said, that the great
luminary of day is an accessory, a satellite, to the humblest star that
twinkles forth its feeble light in the firmament of heaven!

Suppose the constitution had been silent as to an individual
department of this government, could you, under the power to lay and
collect taxes, establish a judiciary? I presume not; but if you could
derive the power by mere implication, could you vest it with any other
authority than to enforce the collection of the revenue? A bank is made
for the ostensible purpose of aiding in the collection of the revenue,
and whilst it is engaged in this, the most inferior and subordinate
of all its functions, it is made to diffuse itself throughout society,
and to influence all the great operations of credit, circulation, and
commerce. Like the Virginia justice, you tell the man whose turkey
had been stolen, that your books of precedent furnish no form for his
case, but that you will grant him a precept to search for a cow, and
when looking for that he may possibly find his turkey! You say to this
corporation, we cannot authorize you to discount, to emit paper, to
regulate commerce, &c. No! Our book has no precedents of that kind. But
then we can authorize you to collect the revenue, and, whilst occupied
with that, you may do whatever else you please!

What is a corporation, such as the bill contemplates? It is a splendid
association of favored individuals, taken from the mass of society, and
invested with exemptions and surrounded by immunities and privileges.
The honorable gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Lloyd) has said,
that the original law, establishing the bank, was justly liable to
the objection of vesting in that institution an exclusive privilege,
the faith of the government being pledged, that no other bank should
be authorized during its existence. This objection, he supposes, is
obviated by the bill under consideration; but all corporations enjoy
exclusive privileges; that is, the corporators have privileges which
no others possess; if you create fifty corporations instead of one,
you have only fifty privileged bodies instead of one. I contend, that
the states have the exclusive power to regulate contracts, to declare
the capacities and incapacities to contract, and to provide as to the
extent of responsibility of debtors to their creditors. If congress
have the power to erect an artificial body, and say it shall be
endowed with the attributes of an individual; if you can bestow on this
object of your own creation the ability to contract, may you not, in
contravention of state rights, confer upon slaves, infants, and femes
covert the ability to contract? And if you have the power to say, that
an association of individuals shall be responsible for their debts
only in a certain limited degree, what is to prevent an extension of
a similar exemption to individuals? Where is the limitation upon this
power to set up corporations. You establish one in the heart of a state,
the basis of whose capital is money. You may erect others whose capital
shall consist of land, slaves, and personal estates, and thus the whole
property within the jurisdiction of a state might be absorbed by these
political bodies. The existing bank contends that it is beyond the
power of a state to tax it, and if this pretension be well founded, it
is in the power of congress, by chartering companies, to dry up all the
sources of state revenue. Georgia has undertaken, it is true, to levy
a tax on the branch within her jurisdiction, but this law, now under a
course of litigation, is considered as invalid. The United States own
a great deal of land in the state of Ohio; can this government, for
the purpose of creating an ability to purchase it, charter a company?
Aliens are forbidden, I believe, in that state, to hold real estate;
could you, in order to multiply purchasers, confer upon them the
capacity to hold land, in derogation of the local law? I imagine this
will be hardly insisted upon; and yet there exists a more obvious
connection between the undoubted power, which is possessed by this
government, to sell its land, and the means of executing that power by
increasing the demand in the market, than there is between this bank
and the collection of a tax. This government has the power to levy
taxes, to raise armies, provide a navy, make war, regulate commerce,
coin money, &c. &c. It would not be difficult to show as intimate a
connection between a corporation, established for any purpose whatever,
and some one or other of those great powers, as there is between the
revenue and the bank of the United States.

Let us inquire into the actual participation of this bank in the
collection of the revenue. Prior to the passage of the act of 1800,
requiring the collectors of those ports of entry, at which the
principal bank, or any of its offices, are situated, to deposit with
them the custom-house bonds, it had not the smallest agency in the
collection of the duties. During almost one moiety of the period to
which the existence of this institution was limited, it was nowise
instrumental in the collection of that revenue, to which it is now
become indispensable! The collection, previous to 1800, was made
entirely by the collectors; and even at present, where there is one
port of entry, at which this bank is employed, there are eight or ten
at which the collection is made as it was before 1800. And, sir, what
_does_ this bank or its branches, where resort is had to it? It does
not adjust with the merchant the amount of duty, nor take his bond; nor,
if the bond is not paid, coerce the payment by distress or otherwise.
In fact, it has no active agency whatever in the collection. Its
operation is merely passive; that is, if the obligor, after his bond is
placed in the bank, discharges it, all is very well. Such is the mighty
aid afforded by this tax-gatherer, without which the government cannot
get along! Again, it is not pretended that the very limited assistance
which this institution does in truth render, extends to any other than
a single species of tax, that is, duties. In the collection of the
excise, the direct and other internal taxes, no aid was derived from
any bank. It is true, in the collection of those taxes, the former
did not obtain the same indulgence which the merchant receives in
paying duties. But what obliges congress to give credit at all? Could
it not demand prompt payment of the duties? And, in fact, does it not
so demand in many instances? Whether credit is given or not is a matter
merely of discretion. If it be a facility to mercantile operations
(as I presume it is) it ought to be granted. But I deny the right to
engraft upon it a bank, which you would not otherwise have the power
to erect. You cannot _create the necessity_ of a bank, and then plead
_that necessity_ for its establishment. In the administration of the
finances, the bank acts simply as a payer and receiver. The secretary
of the treasury has money in New York, and wants it in Charleston; the
bank will furnish him with a check, or bill, to make the remittance,
which any merchant would do just as well.

I will now proceed to show by fact, actual experience, not theoretic
reasoning, but by the records of the treasury themselves, that
the operations of that department may be as well conducted without
as with this bank. The delusion has consisted in the use of certain
high-sounding phrases, dexterously used on the occasion; ‘the
collection of the revenue,’ ‘the administration of the finance,’ ‘the
conducting of the fiscal affairs of the government,’ the usual language
of the advocates of the bank, extort express assent, or awe into
acquiescence, without inquiry or examination into its necessity. About
the commencement of this year there appears, by the report of the
secretary of the treasury, of the seventh of January, to have been
a little upwards of two million and four hundred thousand dollars in
the treasury of the United States; and more than one third of this
whole sum was in the vaults of local banks. In several instances, where
opportunities existed of selecting the bank, a preference has been
given to the state bank, or at least a portion of the deposits has been
made with it. In New York, for example, there were deposited with the
Manhattan bank one hundred and eighty-eight thousand and six hundred
and seventy dollars, although a branch bank is in that city. In this
district, one hundred and fifteen thousand and eighty dollars were
deposited with the bank of Columbia, although here also is a branch
bank, and yet the state banks are utterly unsafe to be trusted! If the
money, after the bonds are collected, is thus placed with these banks,
I presume there can be no difficulty in placing the bonds themselves
there, if they must be deposited with some bank for collection, which
I deny.

Again, one of the most important and complicated branches of the
treasury department, is the management of our landed system. The sales
have, in some years, amounted to upwards of half a million of dollars,
and are generally made upon credit, and yet no bank whatever is made
use of to facilitate the collection. After it is made, the amount, in
some instances, has been deposited with banks, and, according to the
secretary’s report, which I have before adverted to, the amount so
deposited, was, in January, upwards of three hundred thousand dollars,
not one cent of which was in the vaults of the bank of the United
States, or in any of its branches, but in the bank of Pennsylvania,
its branch at Pittsburgh, the Marietta bank, and the Kentucky bank.
Upon the point of responsibility, I cannot subscribe to the opinion
of the secretary of the treasury, if it is meant that the ability
to pay the amount of any deposits which the government may make,
under any exigency, is greater than that of the state banks; that the
_accountability_ of a ramified institution, whose affairs are managed
by a single head, responsible for all its members, is more simple than
that of a number of independent and unconnected establishments, I shall
not deny; but, with regard to safety, I am strongly inclined to think
it is on the side of the local banks. The corruption or misconduct of
the parent, or any of its branches, may bankrupt or destroy the whole
system, and the loss of the government in that event, will be of the
deposits made with each; whereas, in the failure of one state bank, the
loss will be confined to the deposit in the vault of that bank. It is
said to have been a part of Burr’s plan to seize on the branch bank,
at New Orleans. At that period large sums, imported from La Vera Cruz,
are alleged to have been deposited with it, and if the traitor had
accomplished the design, the bank of the United States, if not actually
bankrupt, might have been constrained to stop payment.

It is urged by the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Lloyd), that as
this nation advances in commerce, wealth, and population, new energies
will be unfolded, new wants and exigences will arise, and hence he
infers that powers must be implied from the constitution. But, sir,
the question is, shall we stretch the instrument to embrace cases
not fairly within its scope, or shall we resort to that remedy, by
amendment, which the constitution prescribes?

Gentlemen contend, that the construction which they give to the
constitution has been acquiesced in by all parties and under all
administrations; and they rely particularly on an act which passed in
1804, for extending a branch to New Orleans; and another act of 1807,
for punishing those who should forge or utter forged paper of the bank.
With regard to the first law, passed, no doubt, upon the recommendation
of the treasury department, I would remark, that it was the extension
of a branch to a territory over which congress possesses the power of
legislation almost uncontrolled, and where, without any constitutional
impediment, charters of incorporation may be granted. As to the other
act, it was passed no less for the benefit of the community than
the bank; to protect the ignorant and unwary from counterfeit paper,
purporting to have been emitted by the bank. When gentlemen are
claiming the advantage supposed to be deducible from acquiescence,
let me inquire, what they would have had those to do, who believed
the establishment of a bank an encroachment upon state rights. Were
they to have resisted, and how? By force? Upon the change of parties
in 1800, it must be well recollected, that the greatest calamities
were predicted as a consequence of that event. Intentions were ascribed
to the new occupants of power, of violating the public faith, and
prostrating national credit. Under such circumstances, that they should
act with great circumspection was quite natural. They saw in full
operation a bank, chartered by a congress who had as much right to
judge of their constitutional powers as their successors. Had they
revoked the law which gave it existence, the institution would, in all
probability, have continued to transact business notwithstanding. The
judiciary would have been appealed to, and, from the known opinions
and predilections of the judges then composing it, they would have
pronounced the act of incorporation, as in the nature of a contract,
beyond the repealing power of any succeeding legislature. And, sir,
what a scene of confusion would such a state of things have presented;
an act of congress, which was law in the statute book, and a nullity
on the judicial records! was it not the wisest to wait the natural
dissolution of the corporation rather than accelerate that event by a
repealing law involving so many delicate considerations?

When gentlemen attempt to carry this measure upon the ground
of acquiescence or precedent, do they forget that we are not in
Westminster Hall? In courts of justice, the utility of uniform decision
exacts of the judge a conformity to the adjudication of his predecessor.
In the interpretation and administration of the law, this practice is
wise and proper, and without it, every thing depending upon the caprice
of the judge, we should have no security for our dearest rights. It is
far otherwise when applied to the source of legislation. Here no rule
exists but the constitution, and to legislate upon the ground, merely,
that our predecessors thought themselves authorized, under similar
circumstances, to legislate, is to sanctify error and perpetuate
usurpation. But if we are to be subjected to the trammels of precedent,
I claim, on the other hand, the benefit of the restrictions under which
the intelligent judge cautiously receives them. It is an established
rule, that to give to a previous adjudication any effect, the mind of
the judge who pronounced it must have been awakened to the subject,
and it must have been a deliberate opinion formed after full argument.
In technical language, it must not have been _sub silentio_. Now the
acts of 1804 and 1807, relied upon as pledges for the rechartering of
this company, passed not only without any discussions whatever of the
constitutional power of congress to establish a bank, but, I venture
to say, without a single member having had his attention drawn to this
question. I had the honor of a seat in the senate when the latter law
passed, probably voted for it, and I declare, with the utmost sincerity,
that I never once thought of that point, and I appeal confidently to
every honorable member who was then present, to say if that was not his

This doctrine of precedents, applied to the legislature, appears to
me to be fraught with the most mischievous consequences. The great
advantage of our system of government over all others, is, that we
have a _written_ constitution defining its limits, and prescribing
its authorities; and that however for a time faction may convulse the
nation, and passion and party prejudice sway its functionaries, the
season of reflection will recur, when, calmly retracing their deeds,
all aberration’s from fundamental principle will be corrected. But once
substitute _practice_ for principle; the exposition of the constitution
for the text of the constitution, and in vain shall we look for
the instrument in the instrument itself! It will be as diffused and
intangible as the pretended constitution of England; and must be
sought for in the statute book, in the fugitive journals of congress,
and in the reports of the secretary of the treasury! What would be
our condition, if we were to take the interpretations given to that
sacred book, which is, or ought to be, the criterion of our faith,
for the book itself? We should find the holy bible buried beneath the
interpretations, glosses, and comments of councils, synods, and learned
divines, which have produced swarms of intolerant and furious sects,
partaking less of the mildness and meekness of their origin, than of a
vindictive spirit of hostility towards each other! They ought to afford
us a solemn warning to make that constitution, which we have sworn to
support, our invariable guide.

I conceive, then, sir, that we were not empowered by the constitution,
nor bound by any practice under it, to renew the charter of this bank,
and I might here rest the argument. But as there are strong objections
to the renewal on the score of expediency, and as the distresses
which will attend the dissolution of the bank have been greatly
exaggerated, I will ask for your indulgence for a few moments longer.
That some temporary inconvenience will arise, I shall not deny; but
most groundlessly have the recent failures in New York been attributed
to the discontinuance of this bank. As well might you ascribe to that
cause the failures of Amsterdam and Hamburg, of London and Liverpool.
The embarrassments of commerce, the sequestrations in France, the
Danish captures; in fine, the belligerent edicts are the obvious
sources of these failures. Their immediate cause is the return of
bills upon London, drawn upon the faith of unproductive or unprofitable
shipments. Yes, sir, the protests of the notaries of London, not those
of New York, have occasioned these bankruptcies.

The power of a nation is said to consist in the sword and the purse.
Perhaps, at last, all power is resolvable into that of the purse, for
with it you may command almost every thing else. The specie circulation
of the United States is estimated by some calculators at ten millions
of dollars, and if it be no more, one moiety is in the vaults of
this bank. May not the time arrive, when the concentration of such a
vast portion of the circulating medium of the country in the hands of
any corporation, will be dangerous to our liberties? By whom is this
immense power wielded? By a body, that, in derogation of the great
principle of all our institutions, responsibility to the people, is
amenable only to a few stockholders, and they chiefly foreigners.
Suppose an attempt to subvert this government; would not the traitor
first aim, by force or corruption, to acquire the treasure of this
company? Look at it in another aspect. Seven tenths of its capital
are in the hands of foreigners, and these foreigners chiefly English
subjects. We are possibly on the eve of a rupture with that nation.
Should such an event occur, do you apprehend that the English premier
would experience any difficulty in obtaining the entire control of
this institution? Republics, above all other governments, ought most
seriously to guard against foreign influence. All history proves, that
the internal dissensions excited by foreign intrigue have produced the
downfall of almost every free government that has hitherto existed; and
yet, gentlemen contend that we are benefited by the possession of this
foreign capital! If we could have its use, without its attending abuse,
I should be gratified also. But it is in vain to expect the one without
the other. Wealth is power, and, under whatsoever form it exists, its
proprietor, whether he lives on this or the other side of the Atlantic,
will have a proportionate influence. It is argued, that our possession
of this English capital gives us a great influence over the British
government. If this reasoning be sound, we had better revoke the
interdiction as to aliens holding land, and invite foreigners to
engross the whole property, real and personal, of the country. We had
better, at once, exchange the condition of independent proprietors for
that of stewards. We should then be able to govern foreign nations,
according to the reasoning of the gentlemen on the other side. But let
us put aside this theory and appeal to the decisions of experience. Go
to the other side of the Atlantic and see what has been achieved for
us there, by Englishmen holding seven tenths of the capital of this
bank. Has it released from galling and ignominious bondage one solitary
American seaman, bleeding under British oppression? Did it prevent the
unmanly attack upon the Chesapeake? Did it arrest the promulgation, or
has it abrogated the orders in council――those orders which have given
birth to a new era in commerce? In spite of all its boasted effect,
are not the two nations brought to the very brink of war? Are we quite
sure, that, on this side of the water, it has had no effect favorable
to British interests? It has often been stated, and although I do not
know that it is susceptible of strict proof, I believe it to be a fact,
that this bank exercised its influence in support of Jay’s treaty; and
may it not have contributed to blunt the public sentiment, or paralyse
the efforts of this nation against British aggression?

The duke of Northumberland is said to be the most considerable
stockholder in the bank of the United States. A late lord chancellor of
England, besides other noblemen, was a large stockholder. Suppose the
prince of Essling, the duke of Cadore, and other French dignitaries,
owned seven eighths of the capital of this bank, should we witness the
same exertions (I allude not to any made in the senate) to recharter
it? So far from it, would not the danger of French influence be
resounded throughout the nation?

I shall, therefore, give my most hearty assent to the motion for
striking out the first section of the bill.



  [IN our biographical sketch, we have mentioned, that Mr. Clay,
  having left the senate of the United States in 1811, was the
  same year elected to the house of representatives, where he took
  his seat, and was chosen speaker of that body on the opening
  of the session. This took place at an eventful period in our
  national history. The numerous and aggravated wrongs which the
  nation had sustained and endured for years, both from France and
  England, but more especially from the latter, had aroused the
  attention of the whole country. The celebrated orders in council,
  the impressment of our seamen, and the right of searching our
  vessels, claimed and exercised by Great Britain, had prepared
  the people to expect that some decisive steps would be taken
  by their representatives in congress. In accordance with public
  sentiment, president Madison transmitted, November fourth, 1811,
  a message to congress, recommending appropriate measures for
  the vindication of our national honor, and the redress of our
  violated rights. The political parties, however, into which
  the people were divided, differed widely as to the course to
  be pursued in our foreign relations. The opposition to the
  administration numbered many eminent men, among whom the most
  talented and troublesome was John Randolph, of Virginia; his
  intellectual powers at this juncture being in full force and
  vigor. The committee on foreign relations proposed an immediate
  increase of the military force, and accordingly a bill passed,
  to raise thirteen additional regiments for the public service.
  It was the consideration of this measure, which induced Mr. Clay
  to address the house, when in committee of the whole, as follows.]

Mr. Clay (the speaker) said, that when the subject of this bill was
before the house in the abstract form of a resolution, proposed by the
committee of foreign relations, it was the pleasure of the house to
discuss it whilst he was in the chair. He did not complain of this
course of proceeding; for he did not at any time wish the house, from
considerations personal to him, to depart from that mode of transacting
the public business which they thought best. He merely adverted to
the circumstance as an apology for the trouble he was about to give
the committee. He was at all times disposed to take his share of
responsibility, and under this impression, he felt that he owed it to
his constituents and to himself, before the committee rose, to submit
to their attention a few observations.

He saw with regret a diversity of opinion amongst those who had the
happiness generally to act together, in relation to the quantum of
force proposed to be raised. For his part, he thought it was too great
for peace, and he feared too small for war. He had been in favor of the
number recommended by the senate, and he would ask gentlemen, who had
preferred fifteen thousand, to take a candid and dispassionate view of
the subject. It was admitted, on all hands, that it was a force to be
raised for the purposes of war, and to be kept up and used only in the
event of war. It was further conceded, that its principal destination
would be the provinces of our enemy. By the bill which had been passed,
to complete the peace establishment, we had authorized the collection
of a force of about six thousand men, exclusive of those now in service,
which, with the twenty-five thousand provided for by this bill, will
give an aggregate of new troops of thirty-one thousand men. Experience
in military affairs, has shown, that when any given number of men is
authorized to be raised, you must, in counting upon the effective men
which it will produce, deduct one fourth or one third for desertion,
sickness, and other incidents to which raw troops are peculiarly
exposed. In measures relating to war, it is wisest, if you err at all,
to err on the side of the largest force, and you will consequently put
down your thirty-one thousand men at not more than an effective force
in the field of about twenty-one thousand. This, with the four thousand
now in service, will amount to twenty-five thousand effective men.
The secretary of war has stated, in his report, that, for the single
purpose of manning your forts and garrisons on the sea-board, twelve
thousand and six hundred men are necessary. Although the whole of that
number will not be taken from the twenty-five thousand, a portion of it,
probably, will be. We are told, that in Canada, there are between seven
and eight thousand regular troops. If it is invaded, the whole of that
force will be concentrated in Quebec, and would you attempt that almost
impregnable fortress, with less than double the force of the besieged?
Gentlemen who calculate upon volunteers as a substitute for regulars,
ought not to deceive themselves. No man appreciated higher than he
did the spirit of the country. But, although volunteers were admirably
adapted to the first operations of the war, to the making of a first
impression, he doubted their fitness for a regular siege, or for the
manning and garrisoning of forts. He understood it was a rule in
military affairs, never to leave in the rear a place of any strength
undefended. Canada is invaded; the upper part falls, and you proceed
to Quebec. It is true there would be no European army behind to be
apprehended; but the people of the country might rise; and he warned
gentlemen who imagined that the affections of the Canadians were
with us, against trusting too confidently on such a calculation, the
basis of which was treason. He concluded, therefore, that a portion
of the invading army would be distributed in the upper country, after
its conquest, amongst the places susceptible of military strength and
defence. The army, considerably reduced, sets itself down before Quebec.
Suppose it falls. Here again will be required a number of men to hold
and defend it. And if the war be prosecuted still further, and the
lower country and Halifax be assailed, he conceived it obvious, that
the whole force of twenty-five thousand men would not be too great.

The difference between those who were for fifteen thousand, and those
who were for twenty-five thousand men, appeared to him to resolve
itself into the question, merely, of a short or protracted war; a war
of vigor, or a war of languor and imbecility. If a competent force be
raised in the first instance, the war on the continent will be speedily
terminated. He was aware that it might still rage on the ocean. But
where the nation could act with unquestionable success, he was in
favor of the display of an energy correspondent to the feelings and
spirit of the country. Suppose one third of the force he had mentioned
(twenty-five thousand men) could reduce the country, say in three years,
and that the whole could accomplish the same object in one year; taking
into view the greater hazard of the repulsion and defeat of the small
force, and every other consideration, do not wisdom and true economy
equally decide in favor of the larger force, and thus prevent failure
in consequence of inadequate means? He begged gentlemen to recollect
the immense extent of the United States; our vast maritime frontier,
vulnerable in almost all its parts to predatory incursions, and he was
persuaded, they would see that a regular force, of twenty-five thousand
men, was not much too great during a period of war, if all designs of
invading the provinces of the enemy were abandoned.

Mr. Clay proceeded next to examine the nature of the force contemplated
by the bill. It was a regular army, enlisted for a limited time, raised
for the sole purpose of war, and to be disbanded on the return of peace.
Against this army, all our republican jealousies and apprehensions are
attempted to be excited. He was not the advocate of standing armies;
but the standing armies which excite most his fears, are those which
are kept up in time of peace. He confessed, he did not perceive any
real source of danger in a military force of twenty-five thousand men
in the United States, provided only for a state of war, even supposing
it to be corrupted, and its arms turned, by the ambition of its
leaders, against the freedom of the country. He saw abundant security
against the success of any such treasonable attempt. The diffusion of
political information amongst the great body of the people, constituted
a powerful safeguard. The American character has been much abused by
Europeans, whose tourists, whether on horse or foot, in verse and prose,
have united in depreciating it. It is true, that we do not exhibit as
many signal instances of scientific acquirement in this country as are
furnished in the old world; but he believed it undeniable, that the
great mass of the people possessed more intelligence than any other
people on the globe. Such a people, consisting of upwards of seven
millions, affording a physical power of about a million of men, capable
of bearing arms, and ardently devoted to liberty, could not be subdued
by an army of twenty-five thousand men. The wide extent of country over
which we are spread, was another security. In other countries, France
and England, for example, the fall of Paris or London, is the fall of
the nation. Here are no such dangerous aggregations of people. New York,
and Philadelphia, and Boston, and every city on the Atlantic, might be
subdued by an usurper, and he would have made but a small advance in
the accomplishment of his purpose. He would add a still more improbable
supposition, that the country east of the Allegany, was to submit to
the ambition of some daring chief, and he insisted that the liberty of
the union would be still unconquered. It would find successful support
from the west. We are not only in the situation just described, but
a great portion of the militia――nearly the whole, he understood, of
that of Massachusetts――have arms in their hands; and he trusted in
God, that that great object would be persevered in, until every man
in the nation could proudly shoulder the musket, which was to defend
his country and himself. A people having, besides the benefit of one
general government, other local governments in full operation, capable
of exerting and commanding great portions of the physical power, all
of which must be prostrated before our constitution is subverted.
Such a people have nothing to fear from a petty contemptible force
of twenty-five thousand regulars.

Mr. Clay proceeded, more particularly, to inquire into the object
of the force. That object he understood distinctly to be war, and war
with Great Britain. It had been supposed, by some gentlemen, improper
to discuss publicly so delicate a question. He did not feel the
impropriety. It was a subject in its nature incapable of concealment.
Even in countries where the powers of government were conducted by
a single ruler, it was almost impossible for that ruler to conceal
his intentions when he meditates war. The assembling of armies, the
strengthening of posts; all the movements preparatory to war, and which
it is impossible to disguise, unfolded the intentions of the sovereign.
Does Russia or France intend war, the intention is almost invariably
known before the war is commenced. If congress were to pass a law,
with closed doors, for raising an army for the purpose of war, its
enlistment and organization, which could not be done in secret, would
indicate the use to which it was to be applied; and we cannot suppose
England would be so blind, as not to see that she was aimed at. Nor
could she, did she apprehend, injure us more by thus knowing our
purposes, than if she were kept in ignorance of them. She may, indeed,
anticipate us, and commence the war. But that is what she is in fact
doing, and she can add but little to the injury which she is inflicting.
If she choose to declare war in form, let her do so, the responsibility
will be with her.

What are we to gain by the war? has been emphatically asked. In reply,
he would ask, what are we not to lose by peace? Commerce, character, a
nation’s best treasure, honor! If pecuniary considerations alone are to
govern, there is sufficient motive for the war. Our revenue is reduced,
by the operation of the belligerent edicts, to about six millions
of dollars, according to the secretary of the treasury’s report. The
year preceding the embargo it was sixteen. Take away the orders in
council, it will again mount up to sixteen millions. By continuing,
therefore, in peace, (if the mongrel state in which we are deserve
that denomination,) we lose annually in revenue alone ten millions
of dollars. Gentlemen will say, repeal the law of non-importation. He
contended, that, if the United States were capable of that perfidy,
the revenue would not be restored to its former state, the orders in
council continuing. Without an export trade, which those orders prevent,
inevitable ruin would ensue, if we imported as freely as we did prior
to the embargo. A nation that carries on an import trade, without an
export trade to support it, must, in the end, be as certainly bankrupt,
as the individual would be, who incurred an annual expenditure without
an income.

He had no disposition to magnify or dwell upon the catalogue of
injuries we had received from England. He could not, however, overlook
the impressment of our seamen――an aggression upon which he never
reflected, without feelings of indignation, which would not allow
him appropriate language to describe its enormity. Not content with
seizing upon all our property which falls within her rapacious grasp,
the personal rights of our countrymen――rights which forever ought to
be sacred――are trampled upon and violated. The orders in council were
pretended to have been reluctantly adopted, as a measure of retaliation.
The French decrees, their alleged basis, are revoked. England resorts
to the expedient of denying the fact of the revocation, and Sir William
Scott, in the celebrated case of Fox and others, suspends judgment
that proof may be adduced to it. At the same moment, when the British
ministry, through that judge, is thus affecting to controvert that
fact, and to place the release of our property upon its establishment,
instructions are prepared for Mr. Foster, to meet at Washington the
very revocation which they were contesting. And how does he meet it?
By fulfilling the engagement solemnly made to rescind the orders? No,
sir; but by demanding that we shall secure the introduction, into the
continent, of British manufactures!

England is said to be fighting for the world, and shall we, it is
asked, attempt to weaken her exertions? If, indeed, the aim of the
French emperor be universal dominion, (and he was willing to allow
it to the argument,) how much nobler a cause is presented to British
valor! But how is her philanthropic purpose to be achieved? By a
scrupulous observance of the rights of others, by respecting that
code of public law which she professes to vindicate, and by abstaining
from self-aggrandizement. Then would she command the sympathies of
the world. What are we required to do by those who would engage our
feelings and wishes in her behalf? To bear the actual cuffs of her
arrogance, that we may escape a chimerical French subjugation! We are
invited, conjured, to drink the potion of British poison, actually
presented to our lips, that we may avoid the imperial dose prepared
by perturbed imaginations. We are called upon to submit to debasement,
dishonor, and disgrace; to bow the neck to royal insolence, as a
course of preparation for manly resistance to gallic invasion! What
nation, what individual, was ever taught, in the schools of ignominious
submission, these patriotic lessons of freedom and independence? Let
those who contend for this humiliating doctrine, read its refutation
in the history of the very man against whose insatiable thirst of
dominion we are warned. The experience of desolated Spain, for the last
fifteen years, is worth volumes. Did she find her repose and safety
in subserviency to the will of that man? Had she boldly stood forth
and repelled the first attempt to dictate to her councils, her monarch
would not be now a miserable captive in Marseilles. Let us come home to
our own history; it was not by submission that our fathers achieved our
independence. The patriotic wisdom that placed you, Mr. Chairman, under
that canopy, penetrated the designs of a corrupt ministry, and nobly
fronted encroachment on its first appearance. It saw, beyond the petty
taxes with which it commenced, a long train of oppressive measures,
terminating in the total annihilation of liberty, and, contemptible as
they were, it did not hesitate to resist them. Take the experience of
the last four or five years, which he was sorry to say exhibited, in
appearance, at least, a different kind of spirit. He did not wish to
view the past, further than to guide us for the future. We were but
yesterday contending for the indirect trade; the right to export to
Europe the coffee and sugar of the West Indies. To-day we are asserting
our claim to the direct trade; the right to export our cotton, tobacco,
and other domestic produce, to market. Yield this point, and to-morrow
intercourse between New York and New Orleans, between the planters on
James river and Richmond, will be interdicted. For, sir, the career
of encroachment is never arrested by submission. It will advance while
there remains a single privilege on which it can operate. Gentlemen say,
that this government is unfit for any war, but a war of invasion. What,
is it not equivalent to invasion, if the mouths of our harbors and
outlets are blocked up, and we are denied egress from our own waters?
Or, when the burglar is at our door, shall we bravely sally forth and
repel his felonious entrance, or meanly skulk within the cells of the

He contended, that the real cause of British aggression was, not to
distress an enemy, but to destroy a rival. A comparative view of our
commerce with that of England and the continent, would satisfy any
one of the truth of this remark. Prior to the embargo, the balance
of trade between this country and England was between eleven and
fifteen millions of dollars in favor of England. Our consumption of
her manufactures was annually increasing, and had risen to nearly
fifty millions of dollars. We exported to her what she most wanted,
provisions and raw materials for her manufactures, and received in
return what she was most desirous to sell. Our exports to France,
Holland, Spain, and Italy, taking an average of the years 1802, 1803,
and 1804, amounted to about twelve million dollars of domestic, and
about eighteen million dollars of foreign produce. Our imports from
the same countries, amounted to about twenty-five million dollars. The
foreign produce exported, consisted chiefly of luxuries, from the West
Indies. It is apparent that this trade, the balance of which was in
favor, not of France, but of the United States, was not of very vital
consequence to the enemy of England. Would she, therefore, for the
sole purpose of depriving her adversary of this commerce, relinquish
her valuable trade with this country, exhibiting the essential balance
in her favor; nay, more, hazard the peace of the country? No, sir;
you must look for an explanation of her conduct in the jealousies
of a rival. She sickens at your prosperity, and beholds, in your
growth――your sails spread on every ocean, and your numerous seamen――the
foundations of a power which, at no very distant day, is to make her
tremble for her naval superiority. He had omitted before to notice
the loss of our seamen, if we continued in our present situation. What
would become of the one hundred thousand (for he understood there was
about that number) in the American service? Would they not leave us and
seek employment abroad, perhaps in the very country that injures us?

It is said, that the effect of the war at home, will be a change of
those who administer the government, who will be replaced by others
that will make a disgraceful peace. He did not believe it. Not a man
in the nation could really doubt the sincerity with which those in
power have sought, by all honorable and pacific means, to protect the
interests of the country. When the people saw exercised towards both
belligerents the utmost impartiality; witnessed the same equal terms
tendered to both; and beheld the government successively embracing an
accommodation with each, in exactly the same spirit of amity, he was
fully persuaded, now that war was the only alternative left to us, by
the injustice of one of the powers, that the support and confidence
of the people would remain undiminished. He was one, however, who was
prepared (and he would not believe that he was more so than any other
member of the committee) to march on in the road of his duty, at all
hazards. What! shall it be said, that our _amor patriæ_ is located at
these desks; that we pusillanimously cling to our seats here, rather
than boldly vindicate the most inestimable rights of the country?
Whilst the heroic Daviess, and his gallant associates, exposed to all
the dangers of treacherous savage warfare, are sacrificing themselves
for the good of their country, shall we shrink from our duty?

He concluded, by hoping that his remarks had tended to prove that the
quantum of the force required was not too great, that in its nature it
was free from the objections urged against it, and that the object of
its application was one imperiously called for by the present peculiar

                     ON THE INCREASE OF THE NAVY.


  [THE bill making provisions for the general repair and increase
  of the Navy, followed the preceding measure for augmenting
  the army. During Mr. Jefferson’s administration, the Navy had
  been unpopular with the democratic party, and the policy of
  reducing that branch of the national force had been pursued, in
  opposition to the former course, adopted by the administration
  of John Adams. Many of the democratic supporters of Mr.
  Madison’s administration, still adhered to the policy of Mr.
  Jefferson; while Mr. Clay, Mr. Cheves, and other members of
  that party, saw the importance of sustaining the navy, in
  prospect of war. Among the arguments in opposition to the bill,
  now introduced, it was insisted that the fitting out of naval
  armaments would require a pecuniary expenditure which the
  people were not prepared to meet. The bill contained a section,
  providing for new frigates, leaving a blank for the number. Mr.
  Cheves (of South Carolina) moved to fill the blank with _ten_.
  Mr. Rhea (of Tennessee) moved to strike out this section of the
  bill. In committee of the whole, a warm debate ensued. Mr. Clay,
  in the following speech sustained the proposition of Mr. Cheves,
  and the motion to strike out was rejected by a vote of fifty-two
  to forty-seven. An appropriation was made, and the Navy fitted
  out with despatch. The result is known by the naval victories,
  which, in less than two years, crowned this right arm of the
  nation with glory, and gave it an enduring popularity with the

MR. CLAY (the speaker) rose to present his views on the bill before
the committee. He said, as he did not precisely agree in opinion with
any gentleman who had spoken, he should take the liberty of detaining
the committee a few moments, while he offered to their attention some
observations. He was highly gratified with the temper and ability with
which the discussion had hitherto been conducted. It was honorable to
the house, and, he trusted, would continue to be manifested on many
future occasions.

On this interesting topic a diversity of opinion has existed, almost
ever since the adoption of the present government. On the one hand,
there appeared to him to have been attempts made to precipitate
the nation into all the evils of naval extravagance, which had been
productive of so much mischief in other countries; and, on the other,
strongly feeling this mischief, there has existed an unreasonable
prejudice against providing such a competent naval protection, for our
commercial and maritime rights, as is demanded by their importance,
and as the increased resources of the country amply justify.

The attention of congress has been invited to this subject by the
president, in his message, delivered at the opening of the session.
Indeed, had it been wholly neglected by the chief magistrate, from
the critical situation of the country, and the nature of the rights
proposed to be vindicated, it must have pressed itself upon our
attention. But, said Mr. Clay, the president, in his message, observes:
‘your attention will, of course, be drawn to such provisions on the
subject of our naval force, as may be required for the service to which
it is best adapted. I submit to congress the seasonableness, also, of
an authority to augment the stock of such materials as are imperishable
in their nature, or may not, at once, be attainable?’ The president,
by this recommendation, clearly intimates an opinion, that the naval
force of this country is capable of producing effect; and the propriety
of laying up imperishable materials, was no doubt suggested for the
purpose of making additions to the navy, as convenience and exigences
might direct.

It appeared to Mr. Clay a little extraordinary, that so much, as it
seemed to him, unreasonable jealousy, should exist against the naval
establishment. If, said he, we look back to the period of the formation
of the constitution, it will be found that no such jealousy was then
excited. In placing the physical force of the nation at the disposal of
congress, the convention manifested much greater apprehension of abuse
in the power given to raise armies, than in that to provide a navy. In
reference to the navy, congress is put under no restrictions; but with
respect to the army, that description of force which has been so often
employed to subvert the liberties of mankind, they are subjected to
limitations designed to prevent the abuse of this dangerous power. But
it was not his intention to detain the committee, by a discussion on
the comparative utility and safety of these two kinds of force. He
would, however, be indulged in saying, that he thought gentlemen had
wholly failed in maintaining the position they had assumed, that the
fall of maritime powers was attributable to their navies. They have
told you, indeed, that Carthage, Genoa, Venice, and other nations, had
navies, and, notwithstanding, were finally destroyed. But have they
shown, by a train of argument, that their overthrow was, in any degree,
attributable to their maritime greatness? Have they attempted, even, to
show that there exists in the nature of this power a necessary tendency
to destroy the nation using it? Assertion is substituted for argument;
inferences not authorized by historical facts are arbitrarily drawn;
things wholly unconnected with each other are associated together;
a very logical mode of reasoning, it must be admitted! In the same
way he could demonstrate how idle and absurd our attachments are to
freedom itself. He might say, for example, that Greece and Rome had
forms of free government, and that they no longer exist; and, deducing
their fall from their devotion to liberty, the conclusion, in favor of
despotism, would very satisfactorily follow! He demanded what there is
in the nature and construction of maritime power, to excite the fears
that have been indulged? Do gentlemen really apprehend, that a body of
seamen will abandon their proper element, and, placing themselves under
an aspiring chief, will erect a throne to his ambition? Will they deign
to listen to the voice of history, and learn how chimerical are their

But the source of alarm is in ourselves. Gentlemen fear, that if we
provide a marine, it will produce collisions with foreign nations;
plunge us into war, and ultimately overturn the constitution of the
country. Sir, if you wish to avoid foreign collision, you had better
abandon the ocean; surrender all your commerce; give up all your
prosperity. It is the thing protected, not the instrument of protection,
that involves you in war. Commerce engenders collision, collision war,
and war, the argument supposes, leads to despotism. Would the counsels
of that statesman be deemed wise, who would recommend that the nation
should be unarmed; that the art of war, the martial spirit, and martial
exercises, should be prohibited; who should declare, in the language
of Othello, that the nation must bid farewell to the neighing steed,
and the shrill trump, the spirit-stirring drum, the ear-piercing fife,
and all the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war; and that the
great body of the people should be taught, that national happiness was
to be found in perpetual peace alone? No, sir. And yet, every argument
in favor of a power of protection on land, applies, in some degree, to
a power of protection on the sea. Undoubtedly a commerce void of naval
protection is more exposed to rapacity than a guarded commerce; and
if we wish to invite the continuance of the old, or the enactment of
new edicts, let us refrain from all exertion upon that element where
we must operate, and where, in the end, they must be resisted.

For his part (Mr. Clay said) he did not allow himself to be alarmed
by those apprehensions of maritime power, which appeared to agitate
other gentlemen. In the nature of our government he beheld abundant
security against abuse. He would be unwilling to tax the land to
support the rights of the sea, and was for drawing from the sea itself,
the resources with which its violated freedom should at all times
be vindicated. Whilst this principle is adhered to, there will be no
danger of running into the folly and extravagance which so much alarms
gentlemen; and whenever it is abandoned――whenever congress shall lay
burdensome taxes, to augment the navy beyond what may be authorized
by the increased wealth, and demanded by the exigences, of the
country, the people will interpose, and, removing their unworthy
representatives, apply the appropriate corrective. Mr. Clay, then,
could not see any just ground of dread in the nature of naval power.
It was, on the contrary, free from the evils attendant upon standing
armies. And the genius of our institutions――the great representative
principle, in the practical enjoyment of which we are so eminently
distinguished――afforded the best guarantee against the ambition and
wasteful extravagance of government. What maritime strength is it
expedient to provide for the United States? In considering this subject,
three different degrees of naval power present themselves. In the first
place, such a force as would be capable of contending with that which
any other nation is able to bring on the ocean――a force that, boldly
scouring every sea, would challenge to combat the fleets of other
powers, however great. He admitted it was impossible at this time,
perhaps it never would be desirable, for this country to establish
so extensive a navy. Indeed, he should consider it as madness in the
extreme in this government to attempt to provide a navy able to cope
with the fleets of Great Britain, wherever they might be met.

The next species of naval power to which he would advert, is that
which, without adventuring into distant seas, and keeping generally
in our own harbors, and on our coasts, would be competent to beat
off any squadron which might be attempted to be permanently stationed
in our waters. His friends from South Carolina (Messrs. Cheves and
Lowndes) had satisfactorily shown, that, to effect this object, a force
equivalent only to one third of that which the maintenance of such
a squadron must require, would be sufficient; that if, for example,
England should determine to station permanently upon our coast a
squadron of twelve ships of the line, it would require for this service
thirty-six ships of the line; one third in port, repairing, one third
on the passage, and one third on the station. But that is a force which
it has been shown that even England, with her boasted navy, could not
spare for the American service, whilst she is engaged in the present
contest. Mr. Clay said, that he was desirous of seeing such a force
as he had described; that is, twelve ships of the line and fifteen or
twenty frigates, provided for the United States; but he admitted that
it was unattainable in the present situation of the finances of the
country. He contended, however, that it was such as congress ought to
set about providing; and he hoped, in less than ten years, to see it
actually established. He was far from surveying the vast maritime power
of Great Britain, with the desponding eye with which other gentlemen
beheld it. He could not allow himself to be discouraged at a prospect
of even her thousand ships. This country only required resolution, and
a proper exertion of its immense resources, to command respect, and to
vindicate every essential right. When we consider our remoteness from
Europe, the expense, difficulty, and perils, to which any squadron
would be exposed, while stationed off our coasts, he entertained no
doubt that the force to which he referred, would insure the command
of our own seas. Such a force would avail itself of our extensive
sea-board and numerous harbors, every where affording asylums to which
it could safely retire from a superior fleet, or from which it could
issue, for the purpose of annoyance. To the opinion of his colleague
(Mr. M’Kee), who appeared to think that it was in vain for us to
make any struggle on the ocean, he would oppose the sentiments of his
distinguished connection, the heroic Daviess, who fell in the battle
of Tippecanoe. [Here Mr. Clay read certain parts of a work, written
by colonel Daviess, in which the author attempts to show, that, as
the aggressions upon our commerce were not committed by fleets, but
by single vessels, they could, in the same manner, be best retaliated;
that the force of about twenty or thirty frigates, would be capable of
inflicting great injury on English commerce, by picking up stragglers,
cutting off convoys, and seizing upon every moment of supineness; and
that such a force, with our seaports and harbors well fortified, and
aided by privateers, would be really formidable, and would annoy the
British navy and commerce, just as the French army was assailed in
Egypt, the Persian army in Scythia, and the Roman army in Parthia.]

The third description of force, worthy of consideration, is, that
which would be able to prevent any single vessel, of whatever metal,
from endangering our whole coasting trade, blocking up our harbors,
and laying under contribution our cities――a force competent to punish
the insolence of the commander of any single ship, and to preserve in
our own jurisdiction, the inviolability of our peace and our laws. A
force of this kind is entirely within the compass of our means, at this
time. Is there a reflecting man in the nation, who would not charge
congress with a culpable neglect of its duty, if, for the want of
such a force, a single ship were to bombard one of our cities! Would
not every honorable member of the committee inflict on himself the
bitterest reproaches, if, by failing to make an inconsiderable addition
to our little gallant navy, a single British vessel should place New
York under contribution! Yes, sir, when the city is in flames, its
wretched inhabitants begin to repent of their neglect, in not providing
engines and water-buckets. If, said Mr. Clay, we are not able to meet
the wolves of the forest, shall we put up with the barking impudence
of every petty cur that trips across our way? Because we cannot guard
against every possible danger, shall we provide against none? He hoped
not. He had hardly expected that the instructing but humiliating lesson,
was so soon to be forgotten, which was taught us in the murder of
Pierce, the attack on the Chesapeake, and the insult offered in the
very harbor of Charleston, which the brave old fellow who commanded the
fort in vain endeavored to chastise. It was a rule with Mr. Clay, when
acting either in a public or private character, to attempt nothing more
than what there existed a prospect of accomplishing. He was therefore
not in favor of entering into any mad projects on this subject, but
for deliberately and resolutely pursuing what he believed to be within
the power of government. Gentlemen refer to the period of 1798, and
we are reminded of the principles maintained by the opposition at that
time. He had no doubt of the correctness of that opposition. The naval
schemes of that day were premature, not warranted by the resources of
the country, and were contemplated for an unnecessary war, into which
the nation was about to be plunged. He always admired and approved
the zeal and ability with which that opposition was conducted, by the
distinguished gentleman now at the head of the treasury. But the state
of things is totally altered. What was folly in 1798, may be wisdom now.
At that time, we had a revenue only of about six millions. Our revenue
now, upon a supposition that commerce is restored, is about sixteen
millions. The population of the country, too, is greatly increased,
nearly doubled, and the wealth of the nation is perhaps tripled.
Whilst our ability to construct a navy is thus enhanced, the necessary
maritime protection is proportionably augmented. Independent of the
extension of our commerce, since the year 1798, we have had an addition
of more than five hundred miles to our coast, from the bay of Perdido
to the mouth of the Sabine――a weak and defenceless accession, requiring,
more than any other part of our maritime frontier, the protecting arm
of government.

The groundless imputation, that those who were friendly to a navy, were
espousing a principle inimical to freedom, should not terrify him. He
was not ashamed when in such company as the illustrious author of the
notes on Virginia, whose opinion on the subject of a navy, contained in
that work, contributed to the formation of his own. But the principle
of a navy, Mr. Clay contended, was no longer open to controversy. It
was decided when Mr. Jefferson came into power. With all the prejudices
against a navy, which are alleged by some to have been then brought
into the administration, with many honest prejudices, he admitted,
the rash attempt was not made to destroy the establishment. It was
reduced to only what was supposed to be within the financial capacity
of the country. If, ten years ago, when all those prejudices were
to be combatted, even in time of peace, it was deemed proper, by the
then administration, to retain in service ten frigates, he put it to
the candor of gentlemen to say, if now, when we are on the eve of a
war, and taking into view the actual growth of the country, and the
acquisition of our coast on the Gulf of Mexico, we ought not to add
to the establishment.

Mr. Clay said, he had hitherto alluded more particularly to the
exposed situation of certain parts of the Atlantic frontier. Whilst
he felt the deepest solicitude for the safety of New York, and other
cities on the coast, he would be pardoned by the committee, for
referring to the interests of that section of the union from which he
came. If, said he, there be a point more than any other in the United
States, demanding the aid of naval protection, that point is the mouth
of the Mississippi. What is the population of the western country,
dependent on this single outlet for its surplus productions? Kentucky,
according to the last enumeration, has four hundred and six thousand
five hundred and eleven; Tennessee, two hundred and sixty-one thousand
seven hundred and twenty-seven; and Ohio, two hundred and thirty
thousand seven hundred and sixty. And when the population of the
western parts of Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and the territories which
are drained by the Mississippi or its waters, is added, it will form
an aggregate equal to about one fifth of the whole population of the
United States, resting all their commercial hopes upon this solitary
vent! The bulky articles of which their surplus productions consist,
can be transported in no other way. They will not bear the expense of
a carriage up the Ohio and Tennessee, and across the mountains, and
the circuitous voyage of the lakes is out of the question. Whilst
most other states have the option of numerous outlets, so that, if
one be closed, resort can be had to others, this vast population has
no alternative. Close the mouth of the Mississippi, and their export
trade is annihilated. He called the attention of his western friends,
especially his worthy Kentucky friends, (from whom he felt himself,
with regret, constrained to differ on this occasion,) to the state
of the public feeling in that quarter, whilst the navigation of
the Mississippi was withheld by Spain; and to the still more recent
period, when the right of depot was violated. The whole country was in
commotion, and, at the nod of government, would have fallen on Baton
Rouge and New Orleans, and punished the treachery of a perfidious
government. Abandon all idea of protecting, by maritime force, the
mouth of the Mississippi, and we shall have the recurrence of many
similar scenes. We shall hold the inestimable right of the navigation
of that river, by the most precarious tenure. The whole commerce of
the Mississippi――a commerce that is destined to be the richest that was
ever borne by a single stream――is placed at the mercy of a single ship,
lying off the Balize! Again; the convulsions of the new world, still
more, perhaps, than those of Europe, challenge our attention. Whether
the ancient dynasty of Spain is still to be upheld or subverted, is
extremely uncertain, if the bonds connecting the parent country with
her colonies, are not for ever broken. What is to become of Cuba? Will
it assert independence, or remain the province of some European power?
In either case, the whole trade of the western country, which must
pass almost within gunshot of the Moro Castle, is exposed to danger.
It was not, however, of Cuba he was afraid. He wished her independent.
But suppose England gets possession of that valuable island. With
Cuba on the south, and Halifax on the north――and the consequent
means of favoring or annoying commerce, of particular sections of the
country――he asked, if the most sanguine amongst us would not tremble
for the integrity of the union? If, along with Cuba, Great Britain
should acquire East Florida, she will have the absolute command of the
Gulf of Mexico. Can gentlemen, particularly gentlemen from the western
country, contemplate such possible, nay, probable, events, without
desiring to see at least the commencement of such a naval establishment
as would effectually protect the Mississippi? He entreated them to turn
their attention to the defenceless situation of the Orleans Territory,
and to the nature of its population. It is known, that, whilst under
the Spanish government, they experienced the benefit of naval security.
Satisfy them, that, under the government of the United States, they
will enjoy less protection, and you disclose the most fatal secret.

The general government receives annually, for the public lands, about
six hundred thousand dollars. One of the sources whence the western
people raise this sum, is the exportation of the surplus productions
of that country. Shut up the Mississippi, and this source is, in a
great measure, dried up. But suppose this government to look upon the
occlusion of the Mississippi, without making an effort on that element,
where alone it could be made successfully, to remove the blockading
force, and, at the same time, to be vigorously pressing payment for the
public lands; he shuddered at the consequences. Deep-rooted as he knew
the affections of the western people to be to the union, (and he would
not admit their patriotism to be surpassed by any other quarter of
the country,) if such a state of things were to last any considerable
time, he should seriously apprehend a withdrawal of their confidence.
Nor, sir, could we derive any apology for the failure to afford this
protection, from the want of the materials for naval architecture.
On the contrary, all the articles entering into the construction of a
navy――iron, hemp, timber, pitch――abound in the greatest quantities on
the waters of the Mississippi. Kentucky alone, he had no doubt, raised
hemp enough the last year for the whole consumption of the United

If, as he conceived, gentlemen had been unsuccessful in showing that
the downfall of maritime nations was ascribable to their navies, they
have been more fortunate in showing, by the instances to which they
had referred, that, without a marine, no foreign commerce could exist
to any extent. It is the appropriate, the natural (if the term may be
allowed) connection of foreign commerce. The shepherd and his faithful
dog, are not more necessary to guard the flocks, that browse and gambol
on the neighboring mountain. He considered the prosperity of foreign
commerce indissolubly allied to marine power. Neglect to provide the
one, and you must abandon the other. Suppose the expected war with
England is commenced, you enter and subjugate Canada, and she still
refuses to do you justice; what other possible mode will remain to
operate on the enemy, but upon that element where alone you can then
come in contact with him? And if you do not prepare to protect there
your own commerce, and to assail his, will he not sweep from the
ocean every vessel bearing your flag, and destroy even the coasting
trade? But, from the arguments of gentlemen, it would seem to be
questioned, if foreign commerce is worth the kind of protection
insisted upon. What is this foreign commerce, that has suddenly
become so inconsiderable? It has, with very trifling aid from other
sources, defrayed the expenses of government, ever since the adoption
of the present constitution; maintained an expensive and successful
war with the Indians; a war with the Barbary powers; a quasi war
with France; sustained the charges of suppressing two insurrections,
and extinguishing upwards of forty-six millions of the public debt.
In revenue, it has, since the year 1789, yielded one hundred and
ninety-one millions of dollars. During the first four years after
the commencement of the present government, the revenue averaged
only about two millions annually; during a subsequent period, of four
years, it rose to an average of fifteen millions, annually, or became
equivalent to a capital of two hundred and fifty millions of dollars,
at an interest of six per centum per annum. And if our commerce is
reëstablished, it will, in the course of time, net a sum for which we
are scarcely furnished with figures, in arithmetic. Taking the average
of the last nine years, (comprehending, of course, the season of the
embargo,) our exports average upwards of thirty-seven millions of
dollars, which is equivalent to a capital of more than six hundred
millions of dollars, at six per centum interest; all of which must
be lost in the event of a destruction of foreign commerce. In the
abandonment of that commerce, is also involved the sacrifice of our
brave tars, who have engaged in the pursuit, from which they derive
subsistence and support, under the confidence that government would
afford them that just protection which is due to all. They will be
driven into foreign employment, for it is vain to expect that they
will renounce their habits of life.

The spirit of commercial enterprise, so strongly depicted by the
gentleman from New York (Mr. Mitchel), is diffused throughout the
country. It is a passion as unconquerable as any with which nature
has endowed us. You may attempt, indeed, to regulate, but you cannot
destroy it. It exhibits itself as well on the waters of the western
country, as on the waters and shores of the Atlantic. Mr. Clay had
heard of a vessel, built at Pittsburg, having crossed the Atlantic
and entered an European port (he believed that of Leghorn). The master
of the vessel laid his papers before the proper custom-house officer,
which, of course, stated the place of her departure. The officer
boldly denied the existence of any such American port as Pittsburg,
and threatened a seizure of the vessel, as being furnished with forged
papers. The affrighted master procured a map of the United States, and,
pointing out the Gulf of Mexico, took the officer to the mouth of the
Mississippi, traced the course of the Mississippi more than a thousand
miles, to the mouth of the Ohio, and conducting him still a thousand
miles higher, to the junction of the Allegany and Monongahela,――there,
he exclaimed, stands Pittsburg, the port from which I sailed! The
custom-house officer, prior to the production of this evidence, would
have as soon believed that the vessel had performed a voyage from the

In delivering the sentiments he had expressed, Mr. Clay considered
himself as conforming to a sacred constitutional duty. When the power
to provide a navy was confided to congress, it must have been the
intention of the convention to submit only to the discretion of that
body, the period when that power should be exercised. That period had,
in his opinion, arrived, at least for making a respectable beginning.
And whilst he thus discharged what he conceived to be his duty, he
derived great pleasure from the reflection, that he was supporting a
measure calculated to impart additional strength to our happy union.
Diversified as are the interests of its various parts, how admirably
do they harmonize and blend together! We have only to make a proper use
of the bounties spread before us, to render us prosperous and powerful.
Such a navy as he had contended for, will form a new bond of connection
between the states, concentrating their hopes, their interests, and
their affections.

                         ON THE NEW ARMY BILL.


  [ON the eighteenth of June, 1812, war was declared by congress
  against Great Britain, and the next session of congress
  commenced in November, 1812, when the president, in his annual
  message to the two houses, gave a sketch of the events which
  had transpired during the recess. The military operations on the
  frontier had resulted, at first, in a series of unexpected and
  disgraceful disasters to our arms. Amidst all discouragements,
  Mr. Clay was the leader, and the life and soul of the
  administration party in the house. His early biographer says
  of him: ‘he moved in majesty, for he moved in strength. No
  difficulties could weary or withstand his energies. Like the
  Carthagenian chief in the passage of the Alps, he kept his
  place in front of his comrades, putting aside, with a giant
  effort, every obstacle that opposed his progress, applauding the
  foremost of his followers, and rousing those who lingered, by
  words of encouragement or reproach, till he succeeded in putting
  them upon a moral eminence, from which they could look down upon
  the region where their prowess was to meet with its long
  expected reward.’

  Among the first measures proposed at this session of congress,
  to raise the spirit of the nation, and retrieve the fortunes of
  war, made gloomy by the disasters upon the frontier, was a bill
  to increase the army, by raising twenty additional regiments. In
  support of this bill, and on the merits of the war, as well as
  in reply to the arguments of the opposition members, Mr. Clay
  addressed the committee of the whole house, in the following

MR. CLAY (the speaker) said he was gratified yesterday by the
recommitment of this bill to a committee of the whole house, from two
considerations; one, since it afforded him a slight relaxation from a
most fatiguing situation; and the other, because it furnished him with
an opportunity of presenting to the committee his sentiments, upon the
important topics which had been mingled in the debate. He regretted,
however, that the necessity under which the chairman had been placed,
of putting the question,[3] precluded the opportunity he had wished to
enjoy, of rendering more acceptable to the committee any thing he might
have to offer on the interesting points, on which it was his duty to
touch. Unprepared, however, as he was, to speak on this day, of which
he was the more sensible from the ill state of his health, he would
solicit the attention of the committee for a few moments.

I was a little astonished, I confess, said Mr. Clay, when I found this
bill permitted to pass silently through the committee of the whole,
and not selected until the moment when the question was to be put for
its third reading, as the subject on which gentlemen in the opposition
chose to lay before the house their views of the interesting attitude
in which the nation stands. It did appear to me, that the loan bill,
which will soon come before us, would have afforded a much more proper
occasion, it being more essential, as providing the ways and means
for the prosecution of the war. But the gentlemen had the right of
selection, and having exercised it, no matter how improperly, I am
gratified, whatever I may think of the character of some part of the
debate, at the latitude in which, for once, they have been indulged. I
claim only, in return, of gentlemen on the other side of the house, and
of the committee, a like indulgence in expressing my sentiments, with
the same unrestrained freedom. Perhaps, in the course of the remarks,
which I may feel myself called upon to make, gentlemen may apprehend,
that they assume too harsh an aspect; but I have only now to say, that
I shall speak of parties, measures, and things, as they strike my moral
sense, protesting against the imputation of any intention, on my part,
to wound the feelings of any _gentlemen_.

Considering the situation in which this country is now placed――a state
of actual war with one of the most powerful nations on the earth――it
may not be useless to take a view of the past, and of the various
parties which have at different times appeared in this country, and
to attend to the manner by which we have been driven from a peaceful
posture, to our present warlike attitude. Such an inquiry may assist
in guiding us to that result, an honorable peace, which must be
the sincere desire of every friend to America. The course of that
opposition, by which the administration of the government had been
unremittingly impeded for the last twelve years, was singular, and, I
believe, unexampled in the history of any country. It has been alike
the duty and the interest of the administration to preserve peace.
It was their duty, because it is necessary to the growth of an infant
people, to their genius, and to their habits. It was their interest,
because a change of the condition of the nation, brings along with it a
danger of the loss of the affections of the people. The administration
has not been forgetful of these solemn obligations. No art has been
left unessayed, no experiment, promising a favorable result, left
untried, to maintain the peaceful relations of the country. When,
some six or seven years ago, the affairs of the nation assumed a
threatening aspect, a partial non-importation was adopted. As they grew
more alarming, an embargo was imposed. It would have accomplished its
purpose, but it was sacrificed upon the altar of conciliation. Vain and
fruitless attempt to propitiate! Then came along non-intercourse; and
a general non-importation followed in the train. In the mean time, any
indications of a return to the public law and the path of justice, on
the part of either belligerent, are seized upon with avidity by the
administration. The arrangement with Mr. Erskine is concluded. It is
first applauded, and then censured by the opposition. No matter with
what unfeigned sincerity, with what real effort, the administration
cultivates peace, the opposition insists, that it alone is culpable
for every breach that is made between the two countries. Because the
president thought proper, in accepting the proffered reparation for
the attack on a national vessel, to intimate, that it would have better
comported with the justice of the king (and who does not think so?) to
punish the offending officer, the opposition, entering into the royal
feelings, sees, in that imaginary insult, abundant cause for rejecting
Mr. Erskine’s arrangement. On another occasion, you cannot have
forgotten the hypocritical ingenuity which they displayed, to divest
Mr. Jackson’s correspondence of a premeditated insult to this country.
If gentlemen would only reserve for their own government, half the
sensibility which is indulged for that of Great Britain, they would
find much less to condemn. Restriction after restriction has been tried;
negotiation has been resorted to, until further negotiation would have
been disgraceful. Whilst these peaceful experiments are undergoing a
trial, what is the conduct of the opposition? They are the champions
of war――the proud――the spirited――the sole repository of the nation’s
honor――the men of exclusive vigor and energy. The administration, on
the contrary, is weak, feeble, and pusillanimous――‘incapable of being
kicked into a war.’ The maxim, ‘not a cent for tribute, millions for
defence,’ is loudly proclaimed. Is the administration for negotiation?
The opposition is tired, sick, disgusted with negotiation. They want to
draw the sword, and avenge the nation’s wrongs. When, however, foreign
nations, perhaps emboldened by the very opposition here made, refuse to
listen to the amicable appeals, which have been repeated and reiterated
by the administration, to their justice and to their interest――when, in
fact, war with one of them has become identified with our independence
and our sovereignty, and to abstain from it was no longer possible,
behold the opposition veering round and becoming the friends of peace
and commerce. They tell you of the calamities of war, its tragical
events, the squandering away of your resources, the waste of the public
treasure, and the spilling of innocent blood. ‘Gorgons, hydras, and
chimeras dire.’ They tell you, that honor is an illusion! Now, we see
them exhibiting the terrific forms of the roaring king of the forest.
Now, the meekness and humility of the lamb! They are for war and no
restrictions, when the administration is for peace. They are for peace
and restrictions, when the administration is for war. You find them,
sir, tacking with every gale, displaying the colors of every party, and
of all nations, steady only in one unalterable purpose――to steer, if
possible, into the haven of power.

During all this time, the parasites of opposition do not fail, by
cunning sarcasm, or sly inuendo, to throw out the idea of French
influence, which is known to be false, which ought to be met in one
manner only, and that is by the lie direct. The administration of
this country devoted to foreign influence! The administration of
this country subservient to France! Great God! what a charge! how is
it so influenced? By what ligament, on what basis, on what possible
foundation does it rest? Is it similarity of language? No! we speak
different tongues, we speak the English language. On the resemblance
of our laws? No! the sources of our jurisprudence spring from another
and a different country. On commercial intercourse? No! we have
comparatively none with France. Is it from the correspondence in the
genius of the two governments? No! here alone is the liberty of man
secure from the inexorable despotism, which, every where else, tramples
it under foot. Where, then, is the ground of such an influence? But,
sir, I am insulting you by arguing on such a subject. Yet, preposterous
and ridiculous as the insinuation is, it is propagated with so much
industry, that there are persons found foolish and credulous enough
to believe it. You will, no doubt, think it incredible, (but I have
nevertheless been told it is a fact,) that an honorable member of this
house, now in my eye, recently lost his election by the circulation
of a silly story in his district, that he was the first cousin of the
emperor Napoleon. The proof of the charge rested on the statement of
facts, which was undoubtedly true. The gentleman in question, it was
alleged, had married a connection of the lady of the President of the
United States, who was the intimate friend of Thomas Jefferson, late
President of the United States, who some years ago, was in the habit of
wearing red French breeches. Now, taking these premises as established,
you, Mr. Chairman, are too good a logician not to see that the
conclusion necessarily follows!

Throughout the period he had been speaking of, the opposition has
been distinguished, amidst all its veerings and changes, by another
inflexible feature――the application to Bonaparte of every vile
and opprobious epithet our language, copious as it is in terms of
vituperation, affords. He has been compared to every hideous monster,
and beast, from that mentioned in the Revelations, down to the most
insignificant quadruped. He has been called the scourge of mankind, the
destroyer of Europe, the great robber, the infidel, the modern Attila,
and heaven knows by what other names. Really, gentlemen remind me of
an obscure lady, in a city not very far off, who also took it into her
head, in conversation with an accomplished French gentleman, to talk
of the affairs of Europe. She, too, spoke of the destruction of the
balance of power; stormed and raged about the insatiable ambition of
the emperor; called him the curse of mankind, the destroyer of Europe.
The Frenchman listened to her with perfect patience, and when she
had ceased, said to her, with ineffable politeness, ‘madame, it would
give my master, the emperor, infinite pain, if he knew how hardly you
thought of him.’ Sir, gentlemen appear to me to forget, that they stand
on American soil; that they are not in the British house of commons,
but in the chamber of the house of representatives of the United States;
that we have nothing to do with the affairs of Europe, the partition of
territory and sovereignty there, except so far as these things affect
the interests of our own country. Gentlemen transform themselves into
the Burkes, Chathams, and Pitts, of another country, and forgetting,
from honest zeal, the interests of America, engage with European
sensibility in the discussion of European interests. If gentlemen ask
me, whether I do not view with regret and horror the concentration of
such vast power in the hands of Bonaparte, I reply, that I do. I regret
to see the emperor of China holding such immense sway over the fortunes
of millions of our species. I regret to see Great Britain possessing
so uncontrolled a command over all the waters of our globe. If I had
the ability to distribute among the nations of Europe their several
portions of power and of sovereignty, I would say, that Holland should
be resuscitated, and given the weight she enjoyed in the days of her
De Witts. I would confine France within her natural boundaries, the
Alps, Pyrenees, and the Rhine, and make her a secondary naval power
only. I would abridge the British maritime power, raise Prussia and
Austria to their original condition, and preserve the integrity of the
empire of Russia. But these are speculations. I look at the political
transactions of Europe, with the single exception of their possible
bearing upon us, as I do at the history of other countries, or other
times. I do not survey them with half the interest that I do the
movements in South America. Our political relation with them is much
less important than it is supposed to be. I have no fears of French
or English subjugation. If we are united we are too powerful for the
mightiest nation in Europe, or all Europe combined. If we are separated
and torn asunder, we shall become an easy prey to the weakest of them.
In the latter dreadful contingency, our country will not be worth

Next to the notice which the opposition has found itself called upon
to bestow upon the French emperor, a distinguished citizen of Virginia,
formerly president of the United States, has never for a moment failed
to receive their kindest and most respectful attention. An honorable
gentleman from Massachusetts, (Mr. Quincy,) of whom I am sorry to
say, it becomes necessary for me, in the course of my remarks, to
take some notice, has alluded to him in a remarkable manner. Neither
his retirement from public office, his eminent services, nor his
advanced age, can exempt this patriot from the coarse assaults of
party malevolence. No, sir, in 1801, he snatched from the rude hand
of usurpation the violated constitution of his country, and _that_ is
his crime. He preserved that instrument, in form, and substance, and
spirit, a precious inheritance for generations to come, and for _this_
he can never be forgiven. How vain and impotent is party rage, directed
against such a man! He is not more elevated by his lofty residence,
upon the summit of his own favorite mountain, than he is lifted, by the
serenity of his mind, and the consciousness of a well-spent life, above
the malignant passions and bitter feelings of the day. No! his own
beloved Monticello is not more moved by the storms that beat against
its sides, than is this illustrious man, by the howlings of the whole
British pack, set loose from the Essex kennel! When the gentleman to
whom I have been compelled to allude, shall have mingled his dust with
that of his abused ancestors, when he shall have been consigned to
oblivion, or, if he lives at all, shall live only in the treasonable
annals of a certain junto, the name of Jefferson will be hailed with
gratitude, his memory honored and cherished as the second founder
of the liberties of the people, and the period of his administration
will be looked back to, as one of the happiest and brightest epochs
of American history[4]――an oasis in the midst of a sandy desert. But
I beg the gentleman’s pardon; he has indeed secured to himself a more
imperishable fame than I had supposed; I think it was about four years
ago that he submitted to the house of representatives, an initiative
proposition for an impeachment of Mr. Jefferson. The house condescended
to consider it. The gentleman debated it with his usual _temper_,
_moderation_, and _urbanity_. The house decided upon it in the most
solemn manner, and, although the gentleman had some how obtained a
second, the final vote stood, one for, and one hundred and seventeen
against the proposition!

In one respect there is a remarkable difference between the
administration and the opposition; it is in a sacred regard for
personal liberty. When out of power, my political friends condemned
the surrender of Jonathan Robbins; they opposed the violation of
the freedom of the press, in the sedition law; they opposed the more
insidious attack upon the freedom of the person, under the imposing
garb of an alien law. The party now in opposition, then in power,
advocated the sacrifice of the unhappy Robbins, and passed those two
laws. True to our principles, we are now struggling for the liberty
of our seamen against foreign oppression. True to theirs, they oppose
a war undertaken for this object. They have indeed lately affected
a tender solicitude for the liberties of the people, and talk of the
danger of standing armies, and the burden of taxes. But it must be
evident to you, Mr. Chairman, that they speak in a foreign idiom.
Their brogue evinces that it is not their vernacular tongue. What!
the opposition, who, in 1798 and 1799, could raise a useless army
to fight an enemy three thousand miles distant from us, alarmed at
the existence of one raised for a known and specified object――the
attack of the adjoining provinces of the enemy. What! the gentleman
from Massachusetts, who assisted by his vote to raise the army of
twenty-five thousand, alarmed at the danger of our liberties from this
very army!

But, sir, I must speak of another subject, which I never think of but
with feelings of the deepest awe. The gentleman from Massachusetts, in
imitation of some of his predecessors of 1799, has entertained us with
a picture of cabinet plots, presidential plots, and all sorts of plots,
which have been engendered by the diseased state of the gentleman’s
imagination. I wish, sir, that another plot, of a much more serious
and alarming character――a plot that aims at the dismemberment of our
union――had only the same imaginary existence. But no man, who has paid
any attention to the tone of certain prints, and to transactions in a
particular quarter of the union, for several years past, can doubt the
existence of such a plot. It was far, very far from my intention to
charge the opposition with such a design. No, I believe them generally
incapable of it. But I cannot say as much for some, who have been
unworthily associated with them in the quarter of the union to which
I have referred. The gentleman cannot have forgotten his own sentiment,
uttered even on the floor of this house, ‘peaceably if we can, FORCIBLY
if we must,’ nearly at the very time Henry’s mission to Boston was
undertaken. The flagitiousness of that embassy had been attempted to
be concealed, by directing the public attention to the price which,
the gentleman says, was given for the disclosure. As if any price
could change the atrociousness of the attempt on the part of Great
Britain, or could extenuate, in the slightest degree, the offence of
those citizens, who entertained and deliberated upon a proposition so
infamous and unnatural! There was a most remarkable coincidence between
some of the things which that man states, and certain events in the
quarter alluded to. In the contingency of war with Great Britain,
it will be recollected, that the neutrality and eventual separation
of that section of the union was to be brought about. How, sir, has
it happened, since the declaration of war, that British officers in
Canada have asserted to American officers, that this very neutrality
would take place? That they have so asserted can be established beyond
controversy. The project is not brought forward openly, with a direct
avowal of the intention. No, the stock of good sense and patriotism
in that portion of the country is too great to be undisguisedly
encountered. It is assailed from the masked batteries of friendship, of
peace and commerce, on the one side, and by the groundless imputation
of opposite propensities, on the other. The affections of the people,
there, are gradually to be undermined. The project is suggested or
withdrawn; the diabolical _dramatis personæ_, in this criminal tragedy,
make their appearance or exit, as the audience, to whom they address
themselves, applaud, or condemn. I was astonished, sir, in reading
lately a letter, or pretended letter, published in a prominent print
in that quarter, and written, not in the fervor of party zeal, but
coolly and dispassionately, to find that the writer affected to reason
about a separation, and attempted to demonstrate its advantages to the
different portions of the union; deploring the existence now of what he
terms prejudices against it, but hoping for the arrival of the period
when they shall be eradicated. But, sir, I will quit this unpleasant
subject; I will turn from one, whom no sense of decency or propriety
could restrain from soiling the carpet on which he treads,[5] to
gentlemen, who have not forgotten what is due to themselves, to the
place in which we are assembled, or to those by whom they are opposed.
The gentlemen from North Carolina (Mr. Pearson), from Connecticut
(Mr. Pitkin), and from New York (Mr. Bleeker), have, with their usual
decorum, contended that the war would not have been declared, had
it not been for the duplicity of France, in withholding an authentic
instrument, repealing the decrees of Berlin and Milan; that upon the
exhibition of such an instrument, the revocation of the orders in
council took place; that this main cause of the war, but for which it
would not have been declared, being removed, the administration ought
to seek for the restoration of peace; and that, upon its sincerely
doing so, terms compatible with the honor and interest of this country
might be obtained. It is my purpose, said Mr. Clay, to examine, first,
into the circumstances under which the war was declared; secondly, into
the causes of continuing it; and, lastly, into the means which have
been taken, or ought to be taken, to procure peace; but, sir, I am
really so exhausted, that, little as I am in the habit of asking of
the house an indulgence of this kind, I feel I must trespass on their

[Here Mr. Clay sat down. Mr. Newton moved, that the committee rise,
report progress, and ask leave to sit again, which was done. On the
next day he proceeded.]

I am sensible, Mr. Chairman, that some part of the debate, to which
this bill has given rise, has been attended by circumstances much to
be regretted, not usual in this house, and of which it is to be hoped,
there will be no repetition. The gentleman from Boston had so absolved
himself from every rule of decorum and propriety, had so outraged
all decency, that I have found it impossible to suppress the feelings
excited on the occasion. His colleague, whom I have the honor to follow,
(Mr. Wheaton,) whatever else he might not have proved, in his very
learned, ingenious, and original exposition of the powers of this
government――an exposition in which he has sought, where nobody before
him has, and nobody after him will look, for a grant of our powers,
I mean the preamble to the constitution――has clearly shown, to the
satisfaction of all who heard him, that the power of defensive war is
conferred. I claim the benefit of a similar principle, in behalf of my
political friends, against the gentlemen from Boston. I demand only the
exercise of the right of repulsion. No one is more anxious than I am
to preserve the dignity and the freedom of debate; no member is more
responsible for its abuse, and, if, on this occasion, its just limits
have been violated, let him, who has been the unprovoked aggressor,
appropriate to himself, exclusively, the consequences.

I omitted yesterday, sir, when speaking of a delicate and painful
subject, to notice a powerful engine which the conspirators against
the integrity of the union employ, to effect their nefarious purposes;
I mean southern influence. The true friend to his country, knowing
that our constitution was the work of compromise, in which interests
apparently conflicting were attempted to be reconciled, aims to
extinguish or allay prejudices. But this patriotic exertion does not
suit the views of those, who are urged on by diabolical ambition.
They find it convenient, to imagine the existence of certain improper
influences, and to propagate with their utmost industry a belief of
them. Hence the idea of southern preponderance, Virginia influence,
the yoking of the respectable yeomanry of the north with negro
slaves to the car of southern nabobs. If Virginia really cherished a
reprehensible ambition, an aim to monopolize the chief magistracy of
the country, how was such a purpose to be accomplished? Virginia, alone,
cannot elect a president, whose elevation depends upon a plurality of
electoral votes, and a consequent concurrence of many states. Would
Vermont, disinterested Pennsylvania, the Carolinas, independent Georgia,
Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Louisiana, all consent to become the tools
of inordinate ambition? But the present incumbent was designated to the
office before his predecessor had retired. How? By public sentiment;
public sentiment, which grew out of his known virtues, his illustrious
services, and his distinguished abilities. Would the gentleman crush
this public sentiment?――is he prepared to admit, that he would arrest
the progress of opinion?

The war was declared, because Great Britain arrogated to herself the
pretension of regulating our foreign trade, under the delusive name
of retaliatory orders in council――a pretension by which she undertook
to proclaim to American enterprise, ‘thus far shalt thou go, and no
further’――orders which she refused to revoke, after the alleged cause
of their enactment had ceased; because she persisted in the practice of
impressing American seamen; because she had instigated the Indians to
commit hostilities against us; and because she refused indemnity for
her past injuries upon our commerce. I throw out of the question other
wrongs. The war in fact was announced, on our part, to meet the war
which she was waging on her part. So undeniable were the causes of the
war, so powerfully did they address themselves to the feelings of the
whole American people, that when the bill was pending before this house,
gentlemen in the opposition, although provoked to debate, would not,
or could not, utter one syllable against it. It is true, they wrapped
themselves up in sullen silence, pretending they did not choose to
debate such a question in secret session. Whilst speaking of the
proceedings on that occasion, I beg to be permitted to advert to
another fact which transpired; an important fact, material for the
nation to know, and which I have often regretted had not been spread
upon our journals. My honorable colleague (Mr. M’Kee) moved, in
committee of the whole, to comprehend France in the war; and when the
question was taken upon the proposition, there appeared but ten votes
in support of it, of whom, seven belonged to this side of the house,
and three only to the other! It is said, that we were inveigled into
the war by the perfidy of France; and that, had she furnished the
document in time, which was first published in England, in May last,
it would have been prevented. I will concede to gentlemen, every thing
they ask about the injustice of France towards this country. I wish
to God, that our ability was equal to our disposition, to make her
feel the sense that we entertain of that injustice. The manner of
the publication of the paper in question, was, undoubtedly, extremely
exceptionable. But I maintain, that, had it made its appearance
earlier, it would not have had the effect supposed; and the proof
lies in the unequivocal declarations of the British government. I will
trouble you, sir, with going no further back than to the letters of the
British minister, addressed to the secretary of state, just before the
expiration of his diplomatic functions. It will be recollected by the
committee, that he exhibited to this government a despatch, from lord
Castlereagh, in which the principle was distinctly avowed, that, to
produce the effect of a repeal of the orders in council, the French
decrees must be absolutely and entirely revoked as to all the world,
and not as to America alone. A copy of that despatch was demanded of
him, and he very awkwardly evaded it. But on the tenth of June, after
the bill declaring war had actually passed this house, and was pending
before the senate, (and which, I have no doubt, was known to him,) in
a letter to Mr. Monroe, he says: ‘I have no hesitation, sir, in saying,
that Great Britain, as the case has hitherto stood, never did, nor
never _could_, engage, without the greatest injustice to herself and
her allies, as well as to other neutral nations, to repeal her orders
as affecting America alone, leaving them in force against other states,
upon condition that France would except, singly and specially, America
from the operation of her decrees.’ On the fourteenth of the same month,
the bill still pending before the senate, he repeats: ‘I will now say,
that I feel entirely authorized to assure you, that if you can, at any
time, produce a _full and unconditional_ repeal of the French decrees,
as you have a right to demand it, in your character of a neutral nation,
and that it be disengaged from any question concerning our maritime
rights, we shall be ready to meet you with a revocation of the orders
in council. Previously to your producing _such_ an instrument, which
I am sorry to see you regard as unnecessary, you cannot expect of us
to give up our orders in council.’ Thus, sir, you see, that the British
government would not be content with a repeal of the French decrees,
as to us only. But the French paper in question was such a repeal.
It could not, therefore, satisfy the British government. It could
not, therefore, have induced that government, had it been earlier
promulgated, to repeal the orders in council. It could not, therefore,
have averted the war. The withholding of it did not occasion the
war, and the promulgation of it would not have prevented the war.
But gentlemen have contended, that, in point of fact, it did produce
a repeal of the orders in council. This I deny. After it made its
appearance in England, it was declared by one of the British ministry,
in parliament, not to be satisfactory. And all the world knows,
that the repeal of the orders in council resulted from the inquiry,
reluctantly acceded to by the ministry, into the effect upon their
manufacturing establishments, of our non-importation law, or to the
warlike attitude assumed by this government, or to both. But it is
said, that the orders in council are withdrawn, no matter from what
cause; and that having been the sole motive for declaring the war,
the relations of peace ought to be restored. This brings me to the
examination of the grounds for continuing the present hostilities
between this country and Great Britain.

I am far from acknowledging, that, had the orders in council
been repealed, as they have been, before the war was declared, the
declaration of hostilities would of course have been prevented. In a
body so numerous as this is, from which the declaration emanated, it is
impossible to say, with any degree of certainty, what would have been
the effect of such a repeal. Each member must answer for himself. As to
myself, I have no hesitation in saying, that I have always considered
the impressment of American seamen as much the most serious aggression.
But, sir, how have those orders at last been repealed? Great Britain,
it is true, has intimated a willingness to suspend their practical
operation, but she still arrogates to herself the right to revive them
upon certain contingences, of which she constitutes herself the sole
judge. She waives the temporary use of the rod, but she suspends it
_in terrorem_ over our heads. Supposing it to be conceded to gentlemen,
that such a repeal of the orders in council as took place on the
twenty-third of June last, exceptionable as it is, being known before
the war was proclaimed, would have prevented it; does it follow that
it ought to induce us to lay down our arms, without the redress of
any other injury of which we complain? Does it follow, in all cases,
that that which would in the first instance have prevented would also
terminate the war? By no means. It requires a strong and powerful
effort in a nation, prone to peace as this is, to burst through its
habits, and encounter the difficulties and privations of war. Such a
nation ought but seldom to embark in a belligerent contest; but when it
does, it should be for obvious and essential rights alone, and should
firmly resolve to extort, at all hazards, their recognition. The war
of the revolution is an example of a war begun for one object and
prosecuted for another. It was waged, in its commencement, against the
right asserted by the parent country to tax the colonies. Then, no one
thought of absolute independence. The idea of independence was repelled.
But the British government would have relinquished the principle of
taxation. The founders of our liberties saw, however, that there was
no security short of independence, and they achieved that independence.
When nations are engaged in war, those rights in controversy, which
are not acknowledged by the treaty of peace, are abandoned. And who
is prepared to say, that American seamen shall be surrendered as
victims to the British principle of impressment? And, sir, what is this
principle? She contends, that she has a right to the services of her
own subjects; and that, in the exercise of this right, she may lawfully
impress them, even although she finds them in American vessels, upon
the high seas, without her jurisdiction. Now I deny that she has any
right, beyond her jurisdiction, to come on board our vessels, upon
the high seas, for any other purpose, than in the pursuit of enemies,
or their goods, or goods contraband of war. But she further contends,
that her subjects cannot renounce their allegiance to her, and contract
a new obligation to other sovereigns. I do not mean to go into the
general question of the right of expatriation. If, as is contended, all
nations deny it, all nations at the same time admit and practice the
right of naturalization. Great Britain herself does this. Great Britain,
in the very case of foreign seamen, imposes, perhaps, fewer restraints
upon naturalization than any other nation. Then, if subjects cannot
break their original allegiance, they may, according to universal
usage, contract a new allegiance. What is the effect of this double
obligation? Undoubtedly, that the sovereign, having possession of the
subject, would have the right to the services of the subject. If he
return within the jurisdiction of his primitive sovereign he may resume
his right to his services, of which the subject, by his own act, could
not divest himself. But his primitive sovereign can have no right to
go in quest of him, out of his own jurisdiction, into the jurisdiction
of another sovereign, or upon the high seas, where there exists either
no jurisdiction, or it is possessed by the nation owning the ship
navigating them. But, sir, this discussion is altogether useless. It is
not to the British principle, objectionable as it is, that we are alone
to look; it is to her practice; no matter what guise she puts on. It
is in vain to assert the inviolability of the obligation of allegiance.
It is in vain to set up the plea of necessity, and to allege that she
cannot exist, without the impressment of HER seamen. The naked truth
is, she comes, by her press-gangs, on board of our vessels, seizes OUR
native as well as naturalized seamen, and drags them into her service.
It is the case, then, of the assertion of an erroneous principle, and
of a practice not conformable to the asserted principle――a principle,
which, if it were theoretically right, must be for ever practically
wrong――a practice which can obtain countenance from no principle
whatever, and to submit to which, on our part, would betray the most
abject degradation. We are told, by gentlemen in the opposition,
that government has not done all that was incumbent on it to do, to
avoid just cause of complaint on the part of Great Britain; that,
in particular, the certificates of protection, authorized by the act
of 1796, are fraudulently used. Sir, government has done too much in
granting those paper protections. I can never think of them without
being shocked. They resemble the passes which the master grants to
his negro slave――‘let the bearer, Mungo, pass and repass without
molestation.’ What do they imply? That Great Britain has a right to
seize all who are not provided with them. From their very nature, they
must be liable to abuse on both sides. If Great Britain desires a mark,
by which she can know her own subjects, let her give them an ear mark.
The colors that float from the mast-head should be the credentials of
our seamen. There is no safety to us, and the gentlemen have shown it,
but in the rule, that all who sail under the flag (not being enemies)
are protected by the flag. It is impossible, that this country should
ever abandon the gallant tars, who have won for us such splendid
trophies. Let me suppose that the genius of Columbia should visit one
of them in his oppressor’s prison, and attempt to reconcile him to his
forlorn and wretched condition. She would say to him, in the language
of gentlemen on the other side, ‘Great Britain intends you no harm; she
did not mean to impress you, but one of her own subjects; having taken
you by mistake, I will remonstrate, and try to prevail upon her, by
peaceable means, to release you; but I cannot, my son, fight for you.’
If he did not consider this mere mockery, the poor tar would address
her judgment, and say, ‘you owe me, my country, protection; I owe you,
in return, obedience. I am no British subject, I am a native of old
Massachusetts, where lived my aged father, my wife, my children. I have
faithfully discharged my duty Will you refuse to do yours?’ Appealing
to her passions, he would continue: ‘I lost this eye in fighting under
Truxton, with the Insurgente; I got this scar before Tripoli; I broke
this leg on board the Constitution, when the Guerriere struck.’ If she
remained still unmoved, he would break out, in the accents of mingled
distress and despair,

        Hard, hard is my fate! once I freedom enjoyed,
        Was as happy as happy could be!
        Oh! how hard is my fate, how galling these chains![6]

I will not imagine the dreadful catastrophe to which he would be driven,
by an abandonment of him to his oppressor. It will not be, it cannot be,
that his country will refuse him protection.

It is said, that Great Britain has been always willing to make a
satisfactory arrangement of the subject of impressment; and that
Mr. King had nearly concluded one, prior to his departure from that
country. Let us hear what that minister says, upon his return to
America. In his letter, dated at New York, in July, 1803, after giving
an account of his attempt to form an arrangement for the protection of
our seamen, and his interviews to this end with lords Hawkesbury and
St. Vincent; and stating, that, when he had supposed the terms of a
convention were agreed upon, a new pretension was set up, (the _mare
clausum_,) he concludes: ‘I regret to have been unable to put this
business on a satisfactory footing, knowing, as I do, its very great
importance to both parties; but I flatter myself that I have not
misjudged the interests of our own country, in refusing to sanction
a principle, that might be productive of more extensive evils than
those it was our aim to prevent.’ The sequel of his negotiation on
this affair, is more fully given in the recent conversation between
Mr. Russell and lord Castlereagh, communicated to congress during its
present session. Lord Castlereagh says to Mr. Russell:

‘Indeed, there has evidently been much misapprehension on this subject;
an erroneous belief entertained, that an arrangement, in regard to it,
has been nearer an accomplishment than the facts will warrant. Even our
friends in congress, I mean those who are opposed to going to war with
us, have been so confident in this mistake, that they have ascribed
the failure of such an arrangement solely to the misconduct of the
American government. This error probably originated with Mr. King; for,
being much esteemed here, and always well received by the persons in
power, he seems to have misconstrued their readiness to listen to his
representations, and their warm professions of a disposition to remove
the complaints of America, in relation to impressment, into a supposed
conviction, on their part, of the propriety of adopting the plan which
he had proposed. But lord St. Vincent, whom he might have thought he
had brought over to his opinions, appears never for a moment to have
ceased to regard all arrangement on the subject to be attended with
formidable if not insurmountable obstacles. This is obvious, from a
letter which his lordship addressed to sir William Scott, at the time.’
Here lord Castlereagh read a letter, contained in the records before
him, in which lord St. Vincent states to sir William Scott, the zeal
with which Mr. King had assailed him, on this subject of impressment;
confesses his own perplexity, and total incompetency to discover any
practical project, for the safe discontinuance of that practice, and
asks for counsel and advice. ‘Thus you see,’ proceeded lord Castlereagh,
‘that the confidence of Mr. King, on this subject, was entirely

Thus it is apparent, that at no time has the enemy been willing to
place this subject on a satisfactory footing. I will speak hereafter
of the overtures made by the administration since the war.

The honorable gentleman from New York (Mr. Bleeker), in the very
sensible speech with which he favored the committee, made one
observation, which did not comport with his usual liberal and enlarged
views. It was, that those who are most interested against the practice
of impressment, did not desire a continuance of the war, on account
of it; whilst those (the southern and western members) who had no
interest in it, were the zealous advocates of American seamen. It was
a provincial sentiment, unworthy of that gentleman. It was one which,
in a change of condition, he would not express, because I know he could
not feel it. Does not that gentleman feel for the unhappy victims of
the tomahawk, in the western wilds, although his quarter of the union
may be exempted from similar barbarities? I am sure he does. If there
be a description of rights, which, more than any other, should unite
all parties in all quarters of the union, it is unquestionably the
rights of the person. No matter what his vocation; whether he seeks
subsistence amidst the dangers of the deep, or draws them from the
bowels of the earth, or from the humblest occupations of mechanic life;
whenever the sacred rights of an American freeman are assailed, all
hearts ought to unite, and every arm should be braced, to vindicate
his cause.

The gentleman from Delaware sees in Canada no object worthy of conquest.
According to him, it is a cold, sterile, and inhospitable region. And
yet, such are the allurements which it offers, that the same gentleman
apprehends that, if it be annexed to the United States, already too
much weakened by an extension of territory, the people of New England
will rush over the line and depopulate that section of the union! That
gentleman considers it honest to hold Canada as a kind of hostage,
to regard it as a sort of bond, for the good behavior of the enemy.
But he will not enforce the bond. The actual conquest of that country
would, according to him, make no impression upon the enemy; and yet
the very apprehension only, of such a conquest, would at all times have
a powerful operation upon him! Other gentlemen consider the invasion
of that country as wicked and unjustifiable. Its inhabitants are
represented as harmless and unoffending; as connected with those of
the bordering states by a thousand tender ties, interchanging acts
of kindness, and all the offices of good neighborhood. Canada, said
Mr. Clay, innocent! Canada unoffending! Is it not in Canada, that the
tomahawk of the savage has been moulded into its death-like form? Has
it not been from Canadian magazines, Malden and others, that those
supplies have been issued, which nourish and continue the Indian
hostilities――supplies which have enabled the savage hordes to butcher
the garrison of Chicago, and to commit other horrible excesses and
murders? Was it not by the joint coöperation of Canadians and Indians,
that a remote American fort, Michilimackinac, was assailed and reduced,
while in ignorance of a state of war? But, sir, how soon have the
opposition changed their tone! When the administration was striving,
by the operation of peaceful measures, to bring Great Britain back
to a sense of justice, they were for old-fashioned war. And, now they
have got old-fashioned war, their sensibilities are cruelly shocked,
and all their sympathies lavished upon the harmless inhabitants
of the adjoining provinces. What does a state of war present? The
united energies of one people arrayed against the combined energies of
another; a conflict in which each party aims to inflict all the injury
it can, by sea and land, upon the territories, property, and citizens
of the other; subject only to the rules of mitigated war, practiced
by civilized nations. The gentleman would not touch the continental
provinces of the enemy, nor, I presume, for the same reason, her
possessions in the West Indies. The same humane spirit would spare
the seamen and soldiers of the enemy. The sacred person of his majesty
must not be attacked; for the learned gentlemen, on the other side, are
quite familiar with the maxim, that the king can do no wrong. Indeed,
sir, I know of no person on whom we may make war, upon the principles
of the honorable gentlemen, but Mr. Stephen, the celebrated author of
the orders in council, or the board of admiralty, who authorize and
regulate the practice of impressment!

The disasters of the war admonish us, we are told, of the necessity
of terminating the contest. If our achievements by land have been less
splendid than those of our intrepid seamen by water, it is not because
the American soldier is less brave. On the one element, organization,
discipline, and a thorough knowledge of their duties, exist, on the
part of the officers and their men. On the other, almost every thing
is yet to be acquired. We have, however, the consolation, that our
country abounds with the richest materials, and that in no instance,
when engaged in action, have our arms been tarnished. At Brownstown
and at Queenstown, the valor of veterans was displayed, and acts of
the noblest heroism were performed. It is true, that the disgrace
of Detroit remains to be wiped off. That is a subject on which I
cannot trust my feelings; it is not fitting I should speak. But this
much I will say, it was an event which no human foresight could have
anticipated, and for which the administration cannot be justly censured.
It was the parent of all the misfortunes we have experienced on
land. But for it, the Indian war would have been, in a great measure,
prevented or terminated; the ascendency on lake Erie acquired, and the
war pushed on, perhaps, to Montreal. With the exception of that event,
the war, even upon the land, has been attended by a series of the most
brilliant exploits, which, whatever interest they may inspire on this
side of the mountains, have given the greatest pleasure on the other.
The expedition, under the command of governor Edwards and colonel
Russell, to lake Pioria, on the Illinois, was completely successful. So
was that of captain Craig, who, it is said, ascended that river still
higher. General Hopkins destroyed the prophet’s town. We have just
received intelligence of the gallant enterprise of colonel Campbell.
In short, sir, the Indian towns have been swept from the mouth to the
source of the Wabash; and a hostile country has been penetrated far
beyond the most daring incursions of any campaign, during the former
Indian war. Never was more cool, deliberate bravery displayed, than
that by Newman’s party, from Georgia. And the capture of the Detroit,
and the destruction of the Caledonia, (whether placed to a maritime
or land account,) for judgment, skill, and courage, on the part of
lieutenant Elliot, have never been surpassed.

It is alleged, that the elections in England are in favor of the
ministry, and that those in this country are against the war. If, in
such a cause, (saying nothing of the impurity of their elections,) the
people of that country have rallied round their government, it affords
a salutary lesson to the people here; who, at all hazards, ought to
support theirs, struggling as it is to maintain our just rights. But
the people here have not been false to themselves; a great majority
approve the war, as is evinced by the recent reëlection of the chief
magistrate. Suppose it were even true, that an entire section of the
union were opposed to the war; that section being a minority, is the
will of the majority to be relinquished? In that section the real
strength of the opposition had been greatly exaggerated. Vermont has,
by two successive expressions of her opinion, approved the declaration
of war. In New Hampshire, parties are so nearly equipoised, that
out of thirty or thirty-five thousand votes those who approved and
are for supporting it, lost the election by only one thousand or one
thousand five hundred. In Massachusetts alone have they obtained any
considerable accession. If we come to New York, we shall find that
other and local causes have influenced her elections.

What cause, Mr. Chairman, which existed for declaring the war, has
been removed? We sought indemnity for the past, and security for
the future. The orders in council are suspended, not revoked; no
compensation for spoliations; Indian hostilities, which were before
secretly instigated, are now openly encouraged; and the practice of
impressment unremittingly persevered in and insisted upon. Yet the
administration has given the strongest demonstrations of its love
of peace. On the twenty-ninth of June, less than ten days after the
declaration of war, the secretary of state writes to Mr. Russell,
authorizing him to agree to an armistice, upon two conditions only, and
what are they? That the orders in council should be repealed, and the
practice of impressing American seamen cease, those already impressed
being released. The proposition was for nothing more than a _real_
truce; that the war should in fact cease on _both_ sides. Again, on
the twenty-seventh of July, one month later, anticipating a possible
objection to these terms, reasonable as they are, Mr. Monroe empowers
Mr. Russell to stipulate in general terms for an armistice, having
only an informal understanding on these points. In return, the enemy is
offered a prohibition of the employment of his seamen in our service,
thus removing entirely all pretext for the practice of impressment.
The very proposition which the gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Pitkin)
contends ought to be made, has been made. How are these pacific
advances met by the other party? Rejected, as absolutely inadmissible;
cavils are indulged about the inadequacy of Mr. Russell’s powers,
and the want of an act of congress is intimated. And yet the constant
usage of nations, I believe, is, where the legislation of one party is
necessary to carry into effect a given stipulation, to leave it to the
contracting party to provide the requisite laws. If he fail to do so,
it is a breach of good faith, and becomes the subject of subsequent
remonstrance by the injured party. When Mr. Russell renews the overture,
in what was intended as a more agreeable form to the British government,
lord Castlereagh is not content with a simple rejection, but clothes it
in the language of insult. Afterwards, in conversation with Mr. Russell,
the moderation of our government is misinterpreted, and made the
occasion of a sneer, that we are tired of the war. The proposition
of admiral Warren is submitted in a spirit not more pacific. He is
instructed, he tells us, to propose, that the government of the United
States shall instantly recall their letters of marque and reprisal
against British ships, together with all orders and instructions for
any acts of hostility whatever, against the territories of his majesty,
or the persons or property of his subjects. That small affair being
settled, he is further authorized to arrange as to the revocation of
the laws which interdict the commerce and ships of war of his majesty
from the harbors and waters of the United States. This messenger of
peace comes with one qualified concession in his pocket, not made
to the justice of our demands, and is fully empowered to receive our
homage, a contrite retraction of all our measures adopted against his
master! And, in default, he does not fail to assure us, the orders in
council are to be forthwith revived. The administration, still anxious
to terminate the war, suppresses the indignation which such a proposal
ought to have created, and, in its answer, concludes by informing
admiral Warren, ‘that if there be no objection to an accommodation of
the difference relating to impressment, in the mode proposed, other
than the suspension of the British claim to impressment during the
armistice, there can be none to proceeding, _without the armistice_, to
an immediate discussion and arrangement of an article on that subject.’
Thus it has left the door of negotiation unclosed, and it remains to
be seen, if the enemy will accept the invitation tendered to him. The
honorable gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Pearson) supposes, that if
congress would pass a law, prohibiting the employment of British seamen
in our service, upon condition of a like prohibition on their part, and
repeal the act of non-importation, peace would immediately follow. Sir,
I have no doubt, if such a law were to pass, with all the requisite
solemnities, and the repeal to take place, lord Castlereagh would laugh
at our simplicity. No, sir, the administration has erred in the steps
which it has taken to restore peace, but its error has been, not in
doing too little, but in betraying too great a solicitude for that
event. An honorable peace is attainable only by an efficient war.
My plan would be, to call out the ample resources of the country,
give them a judicious direction, prosecute the war with the utmost
vigor, strike wherever we can reach the enemy, at sea or on land, and
negotiate the terms of a peace at Quebec or at Halifax. We are told,
that England is a proud and lofty nation, which, disdaining to wait for
danger, meets it half way. Haughty as she is, we once triumphed over
her, and, if we do not listen to the counsels of timidity and despair,
we shall again prevail. In such a cause, with the aid of Providence,
we must come out crowned with success, but if we fail, let us fail like
men, lash ourselves to our gallant tars, and expire together in one
common struggle, fighting for FREE TRADE AND SEAMEN’S RIGHTS.

                       ON HIS RETURN FROM GHENT.

                AT LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY, OCTOBER 7, 1815

  [IN the following brief speech, delivered at a public dinner,
  given to him by his fellow-citizens of Lexington, Kentucky,
  after his return from the negotiation of a treaty of peace, at
  Ghent, Mr. Clay takes a summary view of the results of the war
  with Great Britain, and the benefits which the United States,
  as a nation, had gained by that contest with a gigantic foe,
  triumphant at last in all her European wars. His allusions to
  the discussions at Ghent, and the proud and dignified attitude
  assumed and maintained by our commissioners, on that occasion,
  will be read with interest, while his views of the bright
  prospects opened to our country by the peace, have been verified
  by subsequent national prosperity, particularly when the
  measures of public policy advocated and recommended by Mr. Clay
  have been adopted.

  The sixth toast was:

  ‘Our able negotiators at Ghent. Their talents for diplomacy have
  kept pace with the valor of our arms, in ‘demonstrating’ to the
  enemy, that these states will be free.’

  This toast was received with loud and repeated cheering. After
  it had subsided Mr. Clay addressed the assembly as follows.

I FEEL myself called on, by the sentiment just expressed, to return my
thanks, in behalf of my colleagues and myself. I do not, and am quite
sure they do not, feel, that, in the service alluded to, they are at
all entitled to the compliment which has been paid them. We could not
do otherwise than reject the demand made by the other party; and if
our labors finally terminated in an honorable peace, it was owing to
causes on this side of the Atlantic, and not to any exertion of ours.
Whatever diversity of opinion may have existed as to the declaration
of the war, there are some points on which all may look back with
proud satisfaction. The first relates to the time of the conclusion of
the peace. Had it been made immediately after the treaty of Paris, we
should have retired humiliated from the contest, believing that we had
escaped the severe chastisement with which we were threatened, and that
we owed to the generosity and magnanimity of the enemy, what we were
incapable of commanding by our arms. That magnanimity would have been
the theme of every tongue, and of every press, abroad and at home. We
should have retired, unconscious of our own strength, and unconscious
of the utter inability of the enemy, with his whole undivided force,
to make any serious impression upon us. Our military character, then
in the lowest state of degradation, would have been unretrieved.
Fortunately for us, Great Britain chose to try the issue of the last
campaign. And the issue of the last campaign has demonstrated, in the
repulse before Baltimore, the retreat from Plattsburgh, the hard-fought
action on the Niagara frontier, and in that most glorious day, the
eighth of January, that we have always possessed the finest elements
of military composition, and that a proper use of them, only, was
necessary, to insure for the army and militia a fame as imperishable
as that which the navy had previously acquired.

Another point which appears to me to afford the highest consolation
is, that we fought the most powerful nation, perhaps, in existence,
single-handed and alone, without any sort of alliance. More than thirty
years has Great Britain been maturing her physical means, which she
had rendered as efficacious as possible, by skill, by discipline, and
by actual service. Proudly boasting of the conquest of Europe, she
vainly flattered herself with the easy conquest of America also. Her
veterans were put to flight or defeated, while all Europe――I mean the
governments of Europe――was gazing with cold indifference, or sentiments
of positive hatred of us, upon the arduous contest. Hereafter no
monarch can assert claims of gratitude upon us, for assistance rendered
in the hour of danger.

There is another view of which the subject of the war is fairly
susceptible. From the moment that Great Britain came forward at Ghent
with her extravagant demands, the war totally changed its character.
It became, as it were, a new war. It was no longer an American war,
prosecuted for redress of British aggressions upon American rights, but
became a British war, prosecuted for objects of British ambition, to be
accompanied by American sacrifices. And what were those demands? Here,
in the immediate neighborhood of a sister state and territories, which
were to be made in part the victims, they must have been felt, and
their enormity justly appreciated. They consisted of the erection of a
barrier between Canada and the United States, to be formed by cutting
off from Ohio and some of the territories a country more extensive
than Great Britain, containing thousands of freemen, who were to be
abandoned to their fate, and creating a new power, totally unknown
upon the continent of America; of the dismantling of our fortresses,
and naval power on the lakes, with the surrender of the military
occupation of those waters to the enemy, and of an _arrondissement_ for
two British provinces. These demands, boldly asserted, and one of them
declared to be a _sine qua non_, were finally relinquished. Taking this
view of the subject, if there be loss of reputation by either party, in
the terms of peace, who has sustained it?

The effects of the war are highly satisfactory. Abroad, our
character, which at the time of its declaration was in the lowest
state of degradation, is raised to the highest point of elevation.
It is impossible for any American to visit Europe, without being
sensible of this agreeable change, in the personal attentions which
he receives, in the praises which are bestowed on our past exertions,
and the predictions which are made as to our future prospects. At home,
a government, which, at its formation, was apprehended by its best
friends, and pronounced by its enemies to be incapable of standing the
shock, is found to answer all the purposes of its institution. In spite
of the errors which have been committed (and errors have undoubtedly
been committed), aided by the spirit and patriotism of the people, it
is demonstrated to be as competent to the objects of effective war, as
it has been before proved to be to the concerns of a season of peace.
Government has thus acquired strength and confidence. Our prospects
for the future, are of the brightest kind. With every reason to count
on the permanence of peace, it remains only for the government to
determine upon military and naval establishments adapted to the growth
and extension of our country and its rising importance, keeping in view
a gradual but not burdensome increase of the navy; to provide for the
payment of the interest, and the redemption of the public debt, and for
the current expenses of government. For all these objects, the existing
sources of the revenue promise not only to be abundantly sufficient,
but will probably leave ample scope to the exercise of the judgment of
congress, in selecting for repeal, modification, or abolition, those
which may be found most oppressive, inconvenient, or unproductive.

  [The eighteenth and last toast was, ‘our guest, HENRY CLAY. We
  welcome his return to that country, whose rights and interests
  he has so ably maintained, at home and abroad.’]

My friends, I must again thank you for your kind and affectionate
attention. My reception has been more like that of a brother, than a
common friend or acquaintance, and I am utterly incapable of finding
words to express my gratitude. My situation is like that of a Swedish
gentleman, at a dinner given in England, by the Society of Friends
of Foreigners in Distress. A toast having been given complimentary to
his country, it was expected, as is usual on such occasions, that he
would rise and address the company. The gentleman, not understanding
the English language, rose under great embarrassment, and said, ‘sir,
I wish you to consider me _A Foreigner in Distress_.’ I wish you,
gentlemen, to consider me a _Friend_ in distress.



  [MR. CLAY here explains to the electors of the congressional
  district of Kentucky which he represented, the grounds of his
  change of opinion on the subject of a national bank. We have
  seen, by his speech delivered in the senate of the United States,
  in 1811, that he had opposed the renewal of the charter of
  the first bank of the United States, and now, in 1816, he had
  advocated the bill brought in by Mr. Calhoun, of South Carolina,
  for incorporating a similar institution, which bill passed both
  houses of congress, and received the signature of president
  Madison.[7] A perusal of the following address will, it is
  believed, satisfy all candid persons of the sincerity and
  patriotism of Mr. Clay, on both occasions. As one of his
  biographers remarks, ‘there is no other instance, in the whole
  history of his life, where he has changed his opinions, on an
  important subject. His ingenuousness is evinced by his having
  changed _once_, but his firmness by his having done so _but_
  once. And what was it that wrought this single revolution in his
  sentiments? A mighty event, whose consequences could be learned
  only from experience――the occurrence of a war with Great Britain,
  which changed, not only his views of the policy of a bank, but
  those of almost every other leading politician in the country.’]

ON one subject, that of the bank of the United States, to which at
the late session of congress he gave his humble support, Mr. Clay felt
particularly anxious to explain the grounds on which he had acted.
This explanation, if not due to his own character, the state, and
the district to which he belonged, had a right to demand. It would
have been unnecessary, if his observations, addressed to the house
of representatives, pending the measure, had been published; but they
were not published, and why they were not published he was unadvised.

When he was a member of the senate of the United States, he was
induced to oppose the renewal of the charter to the old bank of the
United States by three general considerations. The first was, that
he was instructed to oppose it by the legislature of the state. What
were the reasons that operated with the legislature, in giving the
instruction, he did not know. He has understood from members of that
body, at the time it was given, that a clause, declaring that congress
had no power to grant the charter, was stricken out; from which it
might be inferred, either that the legislature did not believe a
bank to be unconstitutional, or that it had formed no opinion on that
point. This inference derives additional strength from the fact, that,
although the two late senators from this state, as well as the present
senators, voted for a national bank, the legislature, which must have
been well apprized that such a measure was in contemplation, did not
again interpose, either to protest against the measure itself, or to
censure the conduct of those senators. From this silence on the part
of a body which has ever fixed a watchful eye upon the proceedings of
the general government, he had a right to believe, that the legislature
of Kentucky saw, without dissatisfaction, the proposal to establish
a national bank; and that its opposition to the former one was upon
grounds of expediency, applicable to that corporation alone, or no
longer existing. But when, at the last session, the question came up
as to the establishment of a national bank, being a member of the house
of representatives, the point of inquiry with him, was, not so much
what was the opinion of the legislature, although undoubtedly the
opinion of a body so respectable would have great weight with him
under any circumstances, as, what were the sentiments of his immediate
constituents. These he believed to be in favor of such an institution,
from the following circumstances. In the first place, his predecessor
(Mr. Hawkins) voted for a national bank, without the slightest murmur
of discontent. Secondly, during the last fall, when he was in his
district, he conversed freely with many of his constituents upon that
subject, then the most common topic of conversation, and all, without
a single exception, as far as he recollected, agreed that it was a
desirable if not the only efficient remedy for the alarming evils
in the currency of the country. And, lastly, during the session, he
received many letters from his constituents, prior to the passage
of the bill, all of which concurred, he believed without a solitary
exception, in advising the measure. So far then from being instructed
by his district to oppose the bank, he had what was perhaps tantamount
to an instruction to support it――the acquiescence of his constituents
in the vote of their former representative, and the communications,
oral and written, of the opinions of many of them in favor of a bank.

The next consideration which induced him to oppose the renewal of
the old charter, was, that he believed the corporation had, during
a portion of the period of its existence, abused its powers, and
had sought to subserve the views of a political party. Instances
of its oppression, for that purpose, were asserted to have occurred
at Philadelphia and at Charleston; and, although denied in congress
by the friends of the institution, during the discussions on the
application for the renewal of the charter, they were, in his judgment,
satisfactorily made out. This oppression, indeed, was admitted in
the house of representatives, in the debate on the present bank, by
a distinguished member of that party which had so warmly espoused the
renewal of the old charter. It may be said, what security is there,
that the new bank will not imitate this example of oppression? He
answered, the fate of the old bank, warning all similar institutions
to shun politics, with which they ought not to have any concern;
the existence of abundant competition, arising from the great
multiplication of banks; and the precautions which are to be found in
the details of the present bill.

A third consideration upon which he acted in 1811, was, that as the
power to create a corporation, such as was proposed to be continued,
was not specifically granted in the constitution, and did not then
appear to him to be necessary to carry into effect any of the powers
which were specifically granted, congress was not authorized to
continue the bank. The constitution, he said, contained powers
delegated and prohibitory, powers expressed and constructive. It vests
in congress all powers _necessary_ to give effect to the enumerated
powers――all that may be necessary to put into motion and activity
the machine of government which it constructs. The powers that may be
so necessary are deducible by construction. They are not defined in
the constitution. They are, from their nature, indefinable. When the
question is in relation to one of these powers, the point of inquiry
should be, is its exertion necessary to carry into effect any of the
enumerated powers and objects of the general government? With regard to
the _degree_ of necessity, various rules have been, at different times,
laid down; but, perhaps, at last, there is no other than a sound and
honest judgment exercised, under the checks and control which belong
to the constitution and to the people.

The constructive powers being auxiliary to the specifically granted
powers, and depending for their sanction and existence upon a necessity
to give effect to the latter, which necessity is to be sought for and
ascertained by a sound and honest discretion, it is manifest that this
necessity may not be perceived, at one time, under one state of things,
when it is perceived at another time, under a different state of things.
The constitution, it is true, never changes; it is always the same; but
the force of circumstances and the lights of experience may evolve to
the fallible persons charged with its administration, the fitness and
necessity of a particular exercise of constructive power to-day, which
they did not see at a former period.

Mr. Clay proceeded to remark, that when the application was made
to renew the old charter of the bank of the United States, such an
institution did not appear to him to be so necessary to the fulfilment
of any of the objects specifically enumerated in the constitution, as
to justify congress in assuming, by construction, a power to establish
it. It was supported mainly upon the ground that it was indispensable
to the treasury operations. But the local institutions in the several
states were at that time in prosperous existence, confided in by
the community, having a confidence in each other, and maintaining
an intercourse and connection the most intimate. Many of them were
actually employed by the treasury to aid that department, in a part of
its fiscal arrangements; and they appeared to him to be fully capable
of affording to it all the facility that it ought to desire in all of
them. They superseded, in his judgment, the necessity of a national
institution. But how stood the case in 1816, when he was called upon
again to examine the power of the general government to incorporate a
national bank? A total change of circumstances was presented; events of
the utmost magnitude had intervened.

A general suspension of specie payments had taken place, and
this had led to a train of consequences of the most alarming nature.
He beheld, dispersed over the immense extent of the United States,
about three hundred banking institutions, enjoying in different
degrees the confidence of the public, shaken as to them all, under
no direct control of the general government, and subject to no
actual responsibility to the state authorities. These institutions
were emitting the actual currency of the United States; a currency
consisting of a paper, on which they neither paid interest nor
principal, whilst it was exchanged for the paper of the community,
on which both were paid. He saw these institutions in fact exercising
what had been considered, at all times and in all countries, one of the
highest attributes of sovereignty, the regulation of the current medium
of the country. They were no longer competent to assist the treasury in
either of the great operations of collection, deposit, or distribution,
of the public revenues. In fact, the paper which they emitted, and
which the treasury, from the force of events, found itself constrained
to receive, was constantly obstructing the operations of that
department. For it would accumulate where it was not wanted, and could
not be used where it was wanted for the purposes of government, without
a ruinous and arbitrary brokerage. Every man who paid or received from
the government, paid or received as much less than he ought to have
done as was the difference between the medium in which the payment
was effected and specie. Taxes were no longer uniform. In New England,
where specie payments have not been suspended, the people were called
upon to pay larger contributions than where they were suspended. In
Kentucky as much more was paid by the people in their taxes than was
paid, for example, in the state of Ohio, as Kentucky paper was worth
more than Ohio paper.

It appeared to Mr. Clay, that, in this condition of things, the
general government could depend no longer upon these local institutions,
multiplied and multiplying daily; coming into existence by the breath
of eighteen state sovereignties, some of which by a single act of
volition had created twenty or thirty at a time. Even if the resumption
of specie payments could have been anticipated, the general government
remaining passive, it did not seem to him that the general government
ought longer to depend upon these local institutions exclusively for
aid in its operations. But he did not believe it could be justly so
anticipated. It was not the interest of all of them that the renewal of
specie payments should take place, and yet, without concert between all
or most of them it could not be effected. With regard to those disposed
to return to a regular state of things, great difficulties might arise,
as to the time of its commencement.

Considering, then, that the state of the currency was such that no
thinking man could contemplate it without the most serious alarm;
that it threatened general distress, if it did not ultimately lead to
convulsion and subversion of the government; it appeared to him to be
the duty of congress to apply a remedy, if a remedy could be devised.
A national bank, with other auxiliary measures, was proposed as that
remedy. Mr. Clay said, he determined to examine the question with
as little prejudice as possible arising from his former opinion. He
knew that the safest course to him, if he pursued a cold, calculating
prudence, was to adhere to that opinion, right or wrong. He was
perfectly aware, that if he changed, or seemed to change it, he should
expose himself to some censure. But, looking at the subject with
the light shed upon it by events happening since the commencement of
the war, he could no longer doubt. A bank appeared to him not only
necessary, but indispensably necessary, in connection with another
measure, to remedy the evils of which all were but too sensible. He
preferred to the suggestions of the pride of consistency, the evident
interests of the community, and determined to throw himself upon their
candor and justice. That which appeared to him in 1811, under the state
of things then existing, not to be necessary to the general government,
seemed now to be necessary, under the present state of things. Had he
then foreseen what now exists, and no objection had lain against the
renewal of the charter other than that derived from the constitution,
he should have voted for the renewal.

Other provisions of the constitution, but little noticed, if noticed
at all, on the discussions in congress in 1811, would seem to urge
that body to exert all its powers to restore to a sound state the money
of the country. That instrument confers upon congress the power to
coin money, and to regulate the value of foreign coins; and the states
are prohibited to coin money, to emit bills of credit, or to make any
thing but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts. The plain
inference is, that the subject of the general currency was intended to
be submitted exclusively to the general government. In point of fact,
however, the regulation of the general currency is in the hands of the
state governments, or, which is the same thing, of the banks created by
them. Their paper has every quality of money, except that of being made
a tender, and even this is imparted to it by some states, in the law
by which a creditor must receive it, or submit to a ruinous suspension
of the payment of his debt. It was incumbent upon congress to recover
the control which it had lost over the general currency. The remedy
called for, was one of caution and moderation, but of firmness. Whether
a remedy directly acting upon the banks and their paper thrown into
circulation, was in the power of the general government or not, neither
congress nor the community were prepared for the application of such
a remedy. An indirect remedy, of a milder character, seemed to be
furnished by a national bank. Going into operation, with the powerful
aid of the treasury of the United States, he believed it would be
highly instrumental in the renewal of specie payments. Coupled with
the other measure adopted by congress for that object, he believed the
remedy effectual. The local banks must follow the example which the
national bank would set them, of redeeming their notes by the payment
of specie, or their notes will be discredited and put down.

If the constitution, then, warranted the establishment of a bank,
other considerations, besides those already mentioned, strongly urged
it. The want of a general medium is every where felt. Exchange varies
continually, not only between different parts of the union, but between
different parts of the same city. If the paper of a national bank were
not redeemed in specie, it would be much better than the current paper,
since, although its value in comparison with specie might fluctuate, it
would afford an uniform standard.

If political power be incidental to banking corporations, there ought,
perhaps, to be in the general government some counterpoise to that
which is exerted by the states. Such a counterpoise might not indeed
be so necessary, if the states exercised the power to incorporate banks
equally, or in proportion to their respective populations. But that
is not the case. A single state has a banking capital equivalent, or
nearly so, to one-fifth of the whole banking capital of the United
States. Four states combined, have the major part of the banking
capital of the United States. In the event of any convulsion, in which
the distribution of banking institutions might be important, it may be
urged, that the mischief would not be alleviated by the creation of a
national bank, since its location must be within one of the states. But
in this respect the location of the bank is extremely favorable, being
in one of the middle states, not likely from its position, as well as
its loyalty, to concur in any scheme for subverting the government. And
a sufficient security against such contingency is to be found in the
distribution of branches in different states, acting and reacting upon
the parent institution, and upon each other.

                          ON THE DIRECT TAX,

                          WITH GREAT BRITAIN.


  [IN this speech, which was made in committee of the whole, on
  a proposition to lay a direct tax for the purpose of providing
  for the interest on the public debt, and for other objects, as
  expressed in the report of the committee of ways and means, Mr.
  Clay enters into a general view of the state of public affairs,
  as they existed at the conclusion of the war with Great Britain.
  His defence of the policy of the war, and of the treaty of peace
  concluded by himself and the other commissioners at Ghent, will
  be found interesting and valuable, as a portion of our national
  history. On the present occasion, it will be observed, Mr. Clay
  first boldly avows his sympathies for the cause of the patriots
  of South America; thus shadowing forth, at this early period,
  the feelings which prompted him, in 1818, to propose, in a
  definite form, the recognition of their independence. This
  speech concludes with a masterly, although rapid, sketch of
  the true policy of the country, in which are seen the outlines
  of the _American system_, a subject always prominent in the
  thoughts of this statesman.]

MR. CLAY (speaker) said, the course had been pursued, ever since he had
had the honor of a seat on this floor, to select some subject during
the early part of the session, on which, by a general understanding,
gentlemen were allowed to indulge themselves in remarks on the existing
state of public affairs. The practice was a very good one, he said, and
there could be no occasion more proper than that of a proposition to
lay a direct tax.

Those who have for fifteen years past administered the affairs of
this government, have conducted this nation to an honorable point of
elevation, at which they may justly pause, challenge a retrospect, and
invite attention to the bright field of prosperity which lies before us.

The great objects of the committee of finance, in the report under
consideration, are, in the first place, to provide for the payment of
the public debts, and in the second, to provide for the support of the
government, and the payment of such expenses as should be authorized by
congress. The greater part of the debt, Mr. Clay admitted, had grown
out of the late war; yet a considerable portion of it consisted of
that contracted in the former war for independence, and a portion
of it, perhaps, of that which arose out of the wars with Tripoli and
Algiers. Gentlemen had, on this occasion, therefore, fairly a right to
examine into the course of administration heretofore, to demonstrate
the impolicy of those wars, and the injudiciousness of the public
expenditures generally. In the cursory view which he should take of
this subject, he must be allowed to say, he should pay no particular
attention to what had passed before, in debate. An honorable colleague
(Mr. Hardin) who spoke the other day, like another gentleman who
preceded him in debate, had taken occasion to refer to his (Mr. Clay’s)
late absence from this country on public business; but, Mr. Clay said,
he trusted, among the fruits of that absence were a greater respect
for the institutions which distinguish this happy country, a greater
confidence in them, and an increased disposition to cling to them.
Yes, sir; I was in the neighborhood of the battle of Waterloo, and some
lessons I did derive from it; but they were lessons which satisfied
me, that national independence was only to be maintained by national
resistance against foreign encroachments; by cherishing the interests
of the people, and giving to the whole physical power of the country
an interest in the preservation of the nation. I have been taught that
lesson; that we should never lose sight of the possibility, that a
combination of despots, of men unfriendly to liberty, propagating what
in their opinion constitutes the principle of legitimacy, might reach
our happy land, and subject us to that tyranny and degradation which
seems to be one of their objects in another country. The result of my
reflections is, the determination to aid with my vote in providing my
country with all the means to protect its liberties, and guard them
even from serious menace. Motives of delicacy, which the committee
would be able to understand and appreciate, prevented him from noticing
some of his colleague’s (Mr. Hardin’s) remarks; but he would take the
occasion to give him one admonition――that, when he next favored the
house with an exhibition of his talent for wit――with a display of those
elegant implements, for his possession of which, the gentleman from
Virginia had so handsomely complimented him――that he would recollect
that it is _bought_, and not _borrowed_ wit, which the adage recommends
as best. With regard to the late war with Great Britain, history, in
deciding upon the justice and policy of that war, will determine the
question according to the state of things which existed when that war
was declared. I gave a vote for the declaration of war. I exerted all
the little influence and talents I could command to make the war. The
war was made; it is terminated; and I declare with perfect sincerity,
if it had been permitted me to lift the veil of futurity, and to have
foreseen the precise series of events which has occurred, my vote would
have been unchanged. The policy of the war, as it regarded our state of
preparation, must be determined with reference to the state of things
at the time that war was declared. He need not take up the time of the
house, in demonstrating that we had cause sufficient for war. We had
been insulted and outraged, and spoilated upon by almost all Europe――by
Great Britain, by France, Spain, Denmark, Naples, and, to cap the
climax, by the little, contemptible power of Algiers. We had submitted
too long and too much. We had become the scorn of foreign powers,
and the contempt of our own citizens. The question of the policy of
declaring war at the particular time when it was commenced, is best
determined by applying to the enemy himself; and what said _he!_――that
of all the circumstances attending its declaration, none was so
aggravating as that we should have selected the moment which of
all others was most inconvenient to him; when he was struggling for
self-existence in a last effort against the gigantic power of France.
The question of the state of preparation for war at any time is a
relative question――relative to our own means, the condition of the
other power, and the state of the world at the time of declaring it.
We could not expect, for instance, that a war against Algiers would
require the same means or extent of preparation, as a war against Great
Britain; and if it was to be waged against one of the primary powers of
Europe, at peace with all the rest of the world, and therefore all her
force at command, it could not be commenced with so little preparation,
as if her whole force were employed in another quarter. It is not
necessary again to repel the stale, ridiculous, false story of French
influence, originating in Great Britain, and echoed here. I now contend,
as I have always done, that we had a right to take advantage of the
condition of the world, at the time war was declared. If Great Britain
were engaged in war, we had a right to act on the knowledge of the fact,
that her means of annoyance, as to us, were diminished; and we had a
right to obtain all the collateral aid we could, from the operations
of other powers against her, without entering into those connections
which are forbidden by the genius of our government. But it was rather
like disturbing the ashes of the dead, now to discuss the questions of
the justice or expediency of the war. They were questions long since
settled, and on which the public opinion was decisively made up, in
favor of the administration.

He proceeded to examine the conditions of the peace and the fruits of
the war――questions of more recent date, and more immediately applicable
to the present discussion. The terms of the peace must be determined by
the same rule that was applicable to the declaration of war――that rule
which was furnished by the state of the world at the time the peace
was made; and, even if it were true, that all the sanguine expectations
which might have been formed at the time of the declaration of war,
were not realized by the terms of the subsequent peace, it did not
follow that the war was improperly declared, or the peace dishonorable,
unless the condition of the parties, in relation to other powers,
remained substantially the same, throughout the struggle, and at the
time of the termination of the war, as it was at the commencement of
it. At the termination of the war, France was annihilated――blotted out
of the map of Europe; the vast power wielded by Bonaparte existed no
longer. Let it be admitted, that statesmen, in laying their course, are
to look at probable events; that their conduct is to be examined, with
reference to the course of events, which in all human probability might
have been anticipated; and is there a man in this house, in existence,
who can say, that on the eighteenth day of June, 1812, when the war
was declared, it would have been anticipated, that Great Britain, by
the circumstance of a general peace, resulting from the overthrow of
a power whose basements were supposed to be deeper laid, more ramified,
and more extended, than those of any power ever were before, would be
placed in the attitude in which she stood in December, 1814? Would any
one say, that this government could have anticipated such a state of
things, and ought to have been governed in its conduct accordingly?
Great Britain, Russia, Germany, did not expect――not a power in Europe
believed――as late even as January, 1814, that, in the ensuing March,
Bonaparte would abdicate, and the restoration of the Bourbons would
follow. What, then, was the actual condition of Europe, when peace
was concluded? A perfect tranquillity reigned throughout; for, as late
as the first of March, the idea of Napoleon’s reappearing in France,
was as little entertained as that of a man’s coming from the moon to
take upon himself the government of the country. In December, 1814,
a profound and apparently a permanent peace existed; Great Britain
was left to dispose of the vast force, the accumulation of twenty-five
years, the work of an immense system of finance and protracted war;
she was at liberty to employ that undivided force against this country.
Under such circumstances, it did not follow, according to the rules
laid down, either that the war ought not to have been made, or that
peace on such terms ought not to have been concluded.

What, then, were the terms of the peace? The regular opposition in this
country, the gentlemen on the other side of the house, had not come out
to challenge an investigation of the terms of the peace, although they
had several times given a sidewipe at the treaty, on occasions with
which it had no necessary connection. It had been sometimes said, that
we had gained nothing by the war, that the fisheries were lost, &c.
How, he asked, did this question of the fisheries really stand? By the
first part of the third article of the treaty of 1783, the right was
recognized in the people of the United States to take fish of every
kind on the Grand Bank, and on all the other banks of Newfoundland;
also in the gulf of St. Lawrence, and at all other places in the sea,
where the inhabitants of both countries used at any time to fish.
This right was a necessary incident to our sovereignty, although it is
denied to some of the powers of Europe. It was not contested at Ghent;
it has never been drawn in question by Great Britain. But by the same
third article it was further stipulated, that the inhabitants of the
United States shall have ‘liberty to take fish of every kind on such
part of the coast of Newfoundland as British fishermen shall use (but
not to dry or cure the same on that island), and also on the coasts,
bays, and creeks, of all other of his Britannic majesty’s dominions
in America; and that the American fishermen shall have liberty to dry
and cure fish in any of the unsettled bays, harbors, and creeks of
Nova Scotia, Magdalen islands, and Labrador, so long as the same shall
remain unsettled; but so soon as the same or either of them shall be
settled, it shall not be lawful for the said fishermen to dry or cure
fish at such settlement, without a previous agreement for that purpose
with the inhabitants, proprietors, or possessors of the ground.’ The
British commissioners, assuming that these liberties had expired by the
war between the two countries, at an early period of the negotiation,
declared that they would not be revived without an equivalent. Whether
the treaty of 1783 does not form an exception to the general rule,
according to which treaties are vacated by a war breaking out between
the parties, is a question on which he did not mean to express an
opinion. The first article of that treaty, by which the king of Great
Britain acknowledges the sovereignty of the United States, certainly
was not abrogated by the war; that all the other parts of the same
instrument, which define the limits, privileges, and liberties
attaching to that sovereignty, were equally unaffected by the
war, might be contended for with at least much plausibility. If we
determined to offer them the equivalent required, the question was,
what should it be? When the British commissioners demanded, in their
_projet_, a renewal to Great Britain of the right to the navigation of
the Mississippi, secured by the treaty of 1783, a bare majority of the
American commissioners offered to renew it, upon the condition that
the liberties in question were renewed to us. He was not one of that
majority. He would not trouble the committee with his reasons for
being opposed to the offer. A majority of his colleagues, actuated
he believed by the best motives, made, however, the offer, and it was
refused by the British commissioners.

If the British interpretation of the treaty of 1783 be correct, we have
lost the liberties in question. What the value of them really is, he
had not been able to meet with any two gentlemen who agreed. The great
value of the whole mass of our fishery interests, as connected with
our navigation and trade, was sufficiently demonstrated by the tonnage
employed; but of what was the relative importance of these liberties,
there was great contrariety of statements. They were liberties to be
exercised within a foreign jurisdiction, and some of them were liable
to be destroyed by the contingency of settlement. He did not believe,
that much importance attached to such liberties. And, supposing them to
be lost, we are, perhaps, sufficiently indemnified by the redemption of
the British mortgage upon the navigation of the Mississippi. This great
stream, on that supposition, is placed where it ought to be, in the
same independent condition with the Hudson, or any other river in the
United States.

If, on the contrary, the opposite construction of the treaty of 1783
be the true one, these liberties remain to us, and the right to the
navigation of the Mississippi, as secured to Great Britain by that
instrument, continues with her.

But he was surprised to hear a gentleman from the western country
(Mr. Hardin) exclaim, that we had gained nothing by the war. Great
Britain acquired, by the treaty negotiated by Mr. Jay, the right to
trade with the Indians within our territories. It was a right upon
which she placed great value, and from the pursuit of which she did not
desist without great reluctance. It had been exercised by her agents
in a manner to excite the greatest sensibility in the western country.
This right was clearly lost by the war; for, whatever may be the
true opinion as to the treaty of 1783, there can be no doubt that the
stipulations of that of 1794 no longer exist.

It had been said, that the great object, in the continuation of the
war, had been to secure our mariners against impressment, and that
peace was made without accomplishing it. With regard to the opposition,
he presumed that they would not urge any such argument. For, if their
opinion was to be inferred (though he hoped in this case it was not)
from that of an influential and distinguished member of the opposition,
we had reason to believe that they did not think the British doctrines
wrong on this subject. He alluded to a letter said to be written by a
gentleman of great consideration, residing in an adjoining state, to a
member of this house, in which the writer states, that he conceives the
British claim to be right, and expresses his hope that the president,
however he might kick at it, would be compelled to swallow the bitter
pill. If the peace had really given up the American doctrine, it would
have been, according to that opinion, merely yielding to the force
of the British right. In that view of the subject, the error of the
administration would have been in contending for too much in behalf
of this country; for he presumed there was no doubt, that, whether
right or wrong, it would be an important principle gained to secure
our seamen against British impressment. And he trusted in God that all
future administrations would rather err on the side of contending for
too much than too little for America.

But he was willing to admit, that the conduct of the administration
ought to be tried by their own opinions, and not those of the
opposition. One of the great causes of the war, and of its continuance,
was the practice of impressment exercised by Great Britain, and if
this claim has been admitted, by necessary implication or express
stipulation, the administration has abandoned the rights of our
seamen. It was with utter astonishment that he heard, that it had been
contended in this country, that because our right of exemption from the
practice had not been expressly secured in the treaty, it was therefore
given up! It was impossible that such an argument could be advanced
on the floor. No member who regarded his reputation would have dared
advance such an argument here.

Had the war terminated, the practice continuing, he admitted that
such might be a fair inference; and on some former occasion he had laid
down the principle, which he thought correct, that if the United States
did not make peace with Great Britain, the war in Europe continuing,
and therefore she continuing the exercise of the practice, without
any stipulation to secure us against its effects, the plain inference
would be, that we had surrendered the right. But what is the fact? At
the time of the conclusion of the treaty of peace, Great Britain had
ceased the practice of impressment; she was not only at peace with all
the powers of Europe, but there was every prospect of a permanent and
durable peace. The treaty being silent on the subject of impressment,
the only plain rational result was, that neither party had conceded its
rights, but they were left totally unaffected by it. He recollected to
have heard, in the British house of commons, whilst he was in Europe,
the very reverse of the doctrine advanced here on this subject. The
British ministry were charged by a member of the opposition with
having surrendered their right of impressment, and the same course of
reasoning was employed to prove it, as he understood was employed in
this country to prove our acquiescence in that practice. The argument
was this: the war was made on the professed ground of resistance
of the practice of impressment; the peace having been made without
a recognition of the right of America, the treaty being silent on
the subject, the inference was, that the British authorities had
surrendered the right――that they had failed to secure it, and, having
done so, had in effect yielded it. The member of the opposition in
England was just as wrong as any member of the house would be, who
should contend that the right of impressment is surrendered to the
British government. The fact, was, neither party had surrendered its
rights; things remain as though the war had never been made――both
parties are in possession of all the rights they had anterior to the
war. Lest it might be deduced that his sentiments on the subject of
impressment had undergone a change, he took the opportunity to say,
that, although he desired to preserve peace between Great Britain and
the United States, and to maintain between them that good understanding
calculated to promote the interest of each, yet, whenever Great Britain
should give satisfactory evidence of her design to apply her doctrine
of impressment as heretofore, he was, for one, ready to take up arms
again to oppose her. The fact was, that the two nations had been placed
in a state of hostility as to a practice growing out of the war in
Europe. The war ceasing between Great Britain and the rest of Europe,
left England and America engaged in a contest on an aggression which
had also practically ceased. The question had then presented itself,
whether the United States should be kept in war, to gain an abandonment
of what had become a mere abstract principle; or, looking at the
results, and relying on the good sense and sound discretion of both
countries, we should not recommend the termination of the war. When
no practical evil could result from the suspension of hostilities, and
there was no more than a possibility of the removal of the practice of
impressment, I, as one of the mission, consented with sincere pleasure
to the peace, satisfied that we gave up no right, sacrificed no honor,
compromited no important principle. He said, then, applying the rule
of the actual state of things, as that by which to judge of the peace,
there was nothing in the conditions or terms of the peace that was
dishonorable, nothing for reproach, nothing for regret.

Gentlemen have complained, that we had lost the islands in the bay
of Passamaquoddy. Have they examined into that question, and do they
know the grounds on which it stands? Prior to the war we occupied
Moose Island, the British Grand Menan. Each party claimed both islands;
America, because they are within the limits of the United States,
as defined by the treaty of 1783; and Great Britain, because, as she
alleges, they were in the exception contained in the second article
of that treaty as to islands within the limits of the province of
Nova Scotia. All the information which he had received concurred in
representing Grand Menan as the most valuable island. Does the treaty,
in stipulating for an amicable and equitable mode of settling this
controversy, yield one foot of the territory of the United States? If
our title to Moose Island is drawn in question, that of Great Britain
to Grand Menan is equally so. If we may lose the one, she may the
other. The treaty, it was true, contained a provision that the party
in possession, at the time of its ratification, may hold on until the
question of right is decided. The committee would observe, that this
stipulation, as to possession, was not limited to the moment of the
signature, but looked to the period of the ratification of the treaty.
The American commissioners had thought they might safely rely on the
valor of Massachusetts, or the arms of the United States, to drive
the invader from our soil; and had also hoped that we might obtain
possession of Grand Menan. It is true, they have been disappointed in
the successful application of the force of that state and of that of
the union. But it is not true that we have parted with the right. It
is fair to presume that Great Britain will, with good faith, coöperate
in carrying the stipulations into effect; and she has, in fact, already
promptly proceeded to the appointment of commissioners under the treaty.

What have we gained by the war? He had shown we had lost nothing
in rights, territory, or honor; nothing for which we ought to have
contended, according to the principles of the gentlemen on the other
side, or according to our own. Have we gained nothing by the war?
Let any man look at the degraded condition of this country before the
war――the scorn of the universe, the contempt of ourselves――and tell me,
if we have gained nothing by the war? What is our present situation?
Respectability and character abroad; security and confidence at home.
If we have not obtained, in the opinion of some, the full measure of
retribution, our character and constitution are placed on a solid basis,
never to be shaken. The glory acquired by our gallant tars, by our
Jacksons and our Browns on the land, is that nothing? True, we have had
our vicissitudes――that there were humiliating events which the patriot
could not review without deep regret. But the great account, when it
came to be balanced, thank God, would be found vastly in our favor. Is
there a man, he asked, who would have obliterated from the proud pages
of our history the brilliant achievements of Jackson, Brown, Scott,
and the host of heroes on land and sea whom he would not enumerate?
Is there a man who could not desire a participation in the national
glory acquired by the war?――yes, national glory; which, however
the expression may be condemned by some, must be cherished by every
genuine patriot. What do I mean by national glory? Glory such as
Hull, of the Constitution, Jackson, Lawrence, Perry, have acquired.
And are gentlemen insensible to their deeds? to the value of them,
in animating the country in the hour of peril hereafter? Did the
battle of Thermopylæ preserve Greece but once? Whilst the Mississippi
continues to bear the tributes of the Iron mountains and the Alleghany
to her Delta and to the Gulf of Mexico, the eighth of January shall be
remembered, and the glory of that day shall stimulate future patriots,
and nerve the arms of unborn freemen, in driving the presumptuous
invader from our country’s soil! Gentlemen may boast of their
insensibility to feelings inspired by the contemplation of such events.
But he would ask, does the recollection of Bunker’s hill, of Saratoga,
of York-town, afford them no pleasure? Every act of noble sacrifice to
the country――every instance of patriotic devotion to her cause――has its
beneficial influence. A nation’s character is the sum of its splendid
deeds. They constitute one common patrimony――the nation’s inheritance.
They awe foreign powers. They arouse and animate our own people.
Do gentlemen derive no pleasure from the recent transactions in the
Mediterranean? Can they regard unmoved the honorable issue of a war,
in support of our national rights, declared, prosecuted, and terminated
by a treaty in which the enemy submitted to a carte blanche, in the
short period of forty days? The days of chivalry are not gone. They
have been revived in the person of commodore Decatur, who, in releasing
from infidel bondage Christian captives――the subjects of a foreign
power――and restoring them to their country and their friends, has
placed himself beside the most renowned knights of former times. I
love true glory. It is this sentiment which ought to be cherished;
and in spite of cavils and sneers and attempts to put it down, it
will finally conduct this nation to that height to which God and
nature have destined it. Three wars, those who at present administer
this government may say, and say with proud satisfaction, they have
safely conducted us through. Two with powers, which, though otherwise
contemptible, have laid almost all Europe under tribute――a tribute
from which we are exonerated. The third, with one of the most gigantic
powers that the world ever saw. These struggles have not been without
their sacrifices, nor without their lessons. They have created, or
rather greatly increased, the public debt. They have taught, that,
to preserve the character we have established, preparation for war is

The public debt exists. However contracted, the faith of the nation
is pledged for its redemption. It can only be paid by providing an
excess of revenue beyond expenditure, or by retrenchment. Did gentlemen
contend that the results of the report were inaccurate――that the
proceeds of the revenue would be greater, or the public expenses
less, than the estimate? On these subjects, he believed it would be
presumption in him, when the defence of the report was in such able
hands (Mr. Lowndes’s), to attempt its vindication. Leaving the task
to that gentleman, he should assume, for the present, its accuracy.
He would lay down a general rule, from which there ought never to be
a departure, without absolute necessity――that the expenses of the year
ought to be met by the revenue of the year. If in time of war it were
impossible to observe this rule, we ought, in time of peace, to provide
for as speedy a discharge of the debt contracted in the preceding war
as possible. This can only be done by an effective sinking fund, based
upon an excess of revenue beyond expenditure, and a protraction of the
period of peace. If in England the sinking fund had not fulfilled what
was promised, it was because of a failure to provide such a revenue,
and because the interests of peace in that country had been too few
and too short. From the revolution to 1812, a period of one hundred and
twenty-four years, there had been sixty-three years of war, and only
sixty-one of peace; and there had been contracted £638,129,577 of debt,
and discharged only £39,594,305. The national debt at the peace of
Utrecht amounted to £52,681,076, and during the peace which followed,
being twenty-seven years, from 1714 to 1740, there was discharged only
£7,231,503. When the operations of our sinking fund were contrasted
with those of Great Britain, they would be found to present the most
gratifying results. Our public debt, existing on the first day of
January, 1802, amounted to $78,754,568 70; and on the first of January,
1815, we had extinguished $33,873,463 98. Thus in thirteen years, one
half the period of peace that followed the treaty of Utrecht, we had
discharged more public debt than Great Britain did during that period.
In twenty-six years she did not pay much more than a seventh of her
debt. In thirteen years we paid more than a third of ours. If, then,
a public debt, contracted in a manner, he trusted, satisfactory to
the country, imposed upon us a duty to provide for its payment; if we
were encouraged, by past experience, to persevere in the application
of an effective sinking fund, he would again repeat, that the only
alternatives were the adoption of a system of taxation producing the
revenue estimated by the committee of ways and means, or by great
retrenchment of the public expenses.

In what respect can a reduction of the public expenses be effected?
Gentlemen who assailed the report on this ground have, by the
indefinite nature of the attack, great advantage on their side. Instead
of contenting themselves with crying out retrenchment! retrenchment!
a theme always plausible, an object always proper, when the public
interest will admit of it, let them point the attention of the house
to some specified subject. If they really think a reduction of the army
and navy, or either of them, be proper, let them lay a resolution upon
the table to that effect. They had generally, it was true, singled out,
in discussing this report, (and he had no objection to meet them in
this way, though he thought the other the fairest course,) the military
establishment. He was glad that the navy had fought itself into favor,
and that no one appeared disposed to move its reduction or to oppose
its gradual augmentation. But the ‘standing army’ is the great object
of gentlemen’s apprehensions. And those who can bravely set at defiance
hobgoblins, the creatures of their own fertile imaginations, are
trembling for the liberties of the people, endangered by a standing
army of ten thousand men. Those who can courageously vote against taxes,
are alarmed for the safety of the constitution and the country, at
such a force scattered over our extensive territory! This could not
have been expected, at least in the honorable gentleman (Mr. Ross),
who, if he had been storming a fort, could not have displayed more
cool, collected courage than he did, when he declared, that he would
show to Pennsylvania, that she had one faithful representative, bold
and independent enough to vote against a tax!

He had happened, very incidentally, the other day, and in a manner
which he had supposed could not attract particular attention, to state,
that the general condition of the world admonished us to shape our
measures with a view to the possible conflicts into which we might be
drawn; and he said, he did not know when he should cease to witness
the attacks made upon him in consequence of that general remark; when
he should cease to hear the cry of ‘standing army,’ ‘national glory,’
&c. &c. From the tenor of gentlemen’s observations, it would seem as
if, for the first time in the history of this government, it was now
proposed, that a certain regular force should constitute a portion of
the public defence. But from the administration of general Washington,
down to this time, a regular force, a standing army (if gentlemen
please), had existed, and the only question about it, at any time, had
been, what should be the amount. Gentlemen themselves, who most loudly
decry this establishment, did not propose an entire disbandment of it;
and the question, ever with them, is, not whether a regular force be
necessary, but whether a regular force of this or that amount be called
for by the actual state of our affairs.

The question is not, on any side of the house, as to the nature, but
the quantum of the force. He maintained the position, that, if there
was the most profound peace that ever existed; if we had no fears
from any quarter whatever; if all the world was in a state of the most
profound and absolute repose; a regular force of ten thousand men was
not too great for the purposes of this government. We knew too much,
he said, of the vicissitudes of human affairs, and the uncertainty
of all our calculations, not to know, that, even in the most profound
tranquillity, some tempest may suddenly arise, and bring us into
a state requiring the exertion of military force, which cannot be
created in a moment, but requires time for its collection, organization,
and discipline. When gentlemen talked of the force which was deemed
sufficient some twenty years ago, what did they mean? That this force
was not to be progressive? That the full grown man ought to wear the
clothes and habits of his infancy? That the establishment maintained by
this government, when its population amounted to four or five millions
only, should be the standard by which our measures should be regulated,
in all subsequent states of the country? If gentlemen meant this, as
it seemed to him they did, he and they should not agree. He contended,
that establishments ought to be commensurate with the actual state
of the country, should grow with its growth, and keep pace with its
progress. Look at that map (said he, pointing to the large map of the
United States, which hangs in the hall of representatives)――at the
vast extent of that country which stretches from the Lake of the Woods,
in the northwest, to the Bay of Fundy, in the east. Look at the vast
extent of our maritime coast; recollect we have Indians and powerful
nations conterminous on the whole frontier; and that we know not at
what moment the savage enemy, or Great Britain herself, may seek to
make war with us. Ought the force of the country to be graduated by the
scale of our exposure, or are we to be uninfluenced by the increase of
our liability to war? Have we forgotten that the power of France, as a
counterpoise to that of Great Britain, is annihilated――gone, never to
rise again, I believe, under the weak, unhappy, and imbecile race who
now sway her destinies? Any individual must, I think, come to the same
conclusion with myself, who takes these considerations into view, and
reflects on our growth, the state of our defence, the situation of the
nations of the world, and above all, of that nation with whom we are
most likely to come into collision――for it is in vain to conceal it;
this country must have many a hard and desperate tug with Great Britain,
let the two governments be administered how and by whom they may. That
man must be blind to the indications of the future, who cannot see that
we are destined to have war after war with Great Britain, until, if one
of the two nations be not crushed, all grounds of collision shall have
ceased between us. I repeat, if the condition of France were that of
perfect repose, instead of that of a volcano, ready to burst out again
with a desolating eruption; if with Spain our differences were settled;
if the dreadful war raging in South America were terminated; if the
marines of all the powers of Europe were resuscitated as they stood
prior to the revolution of France; if there was universal repose, and
profound tranquillity among all the nations of the earth; considering
the actual growth of our country, in my judgment, the force of ten
thousand men would not be too great for its exigences. Do gentlemen ask,
if I rely on the regular force entirely for the defence of the country?
I answer, it is for garrisoning and keeping in order our fortifications,
for the preservation of the national arms, for something like a safe
depository of military science and skill, to which we may recur in time
of danger, that I desire to maintain an adequate regular force. I know,
that in the hour of peril, our great reliance must be on the whole
physical force of the country, and that no detachment of it can be
exclusively depended on. History proves that no nation, not destitute
of the military art, whose people were united in its defence, ever
was conquered. It is true, that in countries where standing armies
have been entirely relied on, the armies have been subdued, and
the subjugation of the nation has been the consequence of it; but
no example is to be found of a united people being conquered, who
possessed an adequate degree of military knowledge. Look at the Grecian
republics, struggling successfully against the overwhelming force of
Persia; look more recently at Spain. I have great confidence in the
militia, and I would go with my honorable colleague (Mr. M’Kee), whose
views I know are honest, hand in hand, in arming, disciplining, and
rendering effective, the militia; I am for providing the nation with
every possible means of resistance. I ask my honorable colleague, after
I have gone thus far with him, to go a step further with me, and let us
retain the force we now have for the purposes I have already described.
I ask gentlemen who propose to reduce the army, if they have examined
in detail the number and extent of the posts and garrisons on our
maritime and interior frontier? If they have not gone through this
process of reasoning, how shall we arrive at the result that we can
reduce the army with safety? There is not one of our forts adequately
garrisoned at this moment; and there is nearly one fourth of them
that have not one solitary man. I said the other day, that I would
rather vote for the augmentation than the reduction of the army. When
returning to my country from its foreign service, and looking at this
question, it appeared to me that the maximum was twenty thousand, the
minimum ten thousand of the force we ought to retain. And I again say,
that rather than reduce I would vote to increase the present force.

A standing army had been deemed necessary, from the commencement of
the government to the present time. The question was only as to the
quantum of force; and not whether it should exist. No man who regards
his political reputation, would place himself before the people, on a
proposition for its absolute disbandment. He admitted a question as to
quantum might be carried so far as to rise into a question of principle.
If we were to propose to retain an army of thirty, or forty, or fifty
thousand men, then truly the question would present itself, whether
our rights were not in some danger from such a standing army; whether
reliance was to be placed altogether on a standing army, or on that
natural safe defence which, according to the habits of the country
and the principles of our government, is considered the bulwark of our
liberties. But, between five and ten thousand men, or any number under
ten thousand, it could not be a question of principle; for, unless
gentlemen were afraid of spectres, it was utterly impossible that
any danger could be apprehended from ten thousand men, dispersed on
a frontier of many thousand miles; here twenty or thirty, there an
hundred; and the largest amount, at Detroit, not exceeding a thin
regiment. And yet, brave gentlemen――gentlemen who are not alarmed at
hobgoblins――who can intrepidly vote _even against taxes_――are alarmed
by a force of this extent! What, he asked, was the amount of the
army in the time of Mr. Jefferson――a time, the orthodoxy of which had
been so ostentatiously proclaimed? It was true, when that gentleman
came into power, it was with a determination to retrench, as far as
practicable. Under the full influence of these notions, in 1802, the
bold step of wholly disbanding the army, never was thought of. The
military peace establishment was then fixed at about four thousand men.
But, before Mr. Jefferson went out of power, what was done――that is,
in April, 1808? In addition to the then existing peace establishment,
eight regiments, amounting to between five and six thousand men, were
authorized, making a total force precisely equal to the present peace
establishment. It was true, that all this force had never been actually
enlisted and embodied; that the recruiting service had been suspended;
and that at the commencement of the war we had far from this number;
and we have not now actually ten thousand men――being at least two
thousand deficient of that number. He adverted to what had been said,
on this and other occasions, of Mr. Jefferson’s not having seized
the favorable moment for war, which was afforded by the attack on the
Chesapeake. He had always entertained the opinion, he said, that Mr.
Jefferson on that occasion took the correct, manly, and frank course,
in saying to the British government, your officers have done this; it
is an enormous aggression; do you approve the act; do you make it your
cause, or not? That government did not sanction the act; it disclaimed
it, and promptly too; and although they for a long time withheld the
due redress, it was ultimately tendered. If Mr. Jefferson had used his
power to carry the country into a war at that period, it might have
been supported by public opinion, during the moment of fever, but it
would soon abate, and the people would begin to ask, why this war had
been made without understanding whether the British government avowed
the conduct of its officers, and so forth. If the threatening aspect of
our relations with England had entered into the consideration which had
caused the increase of the army at that time, there were considerations
equally strong at this time, with our augmented population, for
retaining our present force. If, however, there were no threatenings
from any quarter; if the relative force of European nations, and
the general balance of power existing before the French revolution
were restored; if South America had not made the attempt, in which he
trusted in God she would succeed, to achieve her independence; if our
affairs with Spain were settled, he would repeat, that ten thousand men
would not be too great a force for the necessities of the country, and
with a view to future emergences.

He had taken the liberty, the other day, to make some observations
which he might now repeat as furnishing auxiliary considerations for
adopting a course of prudence and precaution. He had then said, that
our affairs with Spain were not settled; that the Spanish minister
was reported to have made some inadmissible demands of our government.
The fact turned out as he had presented it. It appeared that what was
then rumor, was now fact; and Spain had taken the ground, not only
that there must be a discussion of our title to that part of Louisiana,
formerly called West Florida, (which it might be doubted whether it
ought to take place,) but had required that we must surrender the
territory first, and discuss the right to it afterwards. Besides this
unsettled state of our relations with Spain, he said, there were other
rumors, and he wished to God we had the same means of ascertaining
their correctness, as we had found of ascertaining the truth of the
rumor just noticed; it was rumored that the Spanish province of Florida
had been ceded, with all her pretensions, to Great Britain. Would
gentlemen tell him, then, that this was a time when any statesman would
pursue the hazardous policy of disarming entirely, of quietly smoking
our pipes by our firesides, regardless of impending danger? It might be
a palatable doctrine to some, but he was persuaded was condemned by the
rules of conduct in private life, by those maxims of sound precaution
by which individuals would regulate their private affairs. He did not
here mean to take up the question in relation to South America. Still,
it was impossible not to see, that, in the progress of things, we might
be called on to decide the question, whether we would or would not lend
them our aid. This opinion he boldly declared, and he entertained it,
not in any pursuit of vain glory, but from a deliberate conviction
of its being conformable to the best interests of the country; that,
having a proper understanding with foreign powers――that understanding
which prudence and a just precaution recommended――it would undoubtedly
be good policy to take part with the patriots of South America. He
believed it could be shown, that, on the strictest principles of public
law, we have a right to take part with them, that it is our interest
to take part with them, and that our interposition in their favor would
be effectual. But he confessed, with infinite regret, that he saw a
supineness on this interesting subject, throughout our country, which
left him almost without hope, that what he believed the correct policy
of the country would be pursued. He considered the release of any
part of America from the dominions of the old world, as adding to the
general security of the new. He could not contemplate the exertions of
the people of South America, without wishing that they might triumph,
and nobly triumph. He believed the cause of humanity would be promoted
by the interposition of any foreign power which should terminate the
contest between the friends and enemies of independence in that quarter,
for a more bloody and cruel war never had been carried on since the
days of Adam, than that which is now raging in South America; in
which not the least regard is paid to the laws of war, to the rights
of capitulation, to the rights of prisoners, nor even to the rights
of kindred. I do not offer these views, expecting to influence the
opinions of others; they are opinions, of my own. But, on the question
of general policy, whether or not we shall interfere in the war in
South America, it may turn out that, whether we will or will not choose
to interfere in their behalf, we shall be drawn into the contest in the
course of its progress. Among other demands by the minister of Spain,
is the exclusion of the flag of Buenos Ayres, and other parts of South
America, from our ports. Our government has taken a ground on this
subject, of which I think no gentleman can disapprove――that all parties
shall be admitted and hospitably treated in our ports, provided they
conform to our laws whilst among us. What course Spain may take on this
subject, it was impossible now to say. Although I would not urge this
as an argument for increasing our force, I would place it among those
considerations which ought to have weight with every enlightened mind,
in determining upon the propriety of its reduction. It is asserted that
Great Britain has strengthened, and is strengthening herself in the
provinces adjoining us. Is this a moment when in prudence we ought
to disarm? No, sir. Preserve your existing force. It would be extreme
indiscretion to lessen it.

Mr. Clay here made some observations, to show that a reduction of the
army to from four to five thousand men, as had been suggested, would
not occasion such a diminution of expense as to authorize the rejection
of the report, or any essential alteration in the amount of revenue,
which the system proposes to raise from internal taxes, and his
colleague (Mr. M’Kee) appeared equally hostile to all of them. Having,
however, shown that we cannot in safety reduce the army, he would leave
the details of the report in the abler hands of the honorable chairman
(Mr. Lowndes), who, he had no doubt, could demonstrate, that with all
the retrenchments which had been recommended, the government would
be bankrupt in less than three years, if most of these taxes were
not continued. He would now hasten to that conclusion, at which the
committee could not regret more than he did, that he had not long since

As to the attitude in which this country should be placed, the duty of
congress could not be mistaken. My policy is to preserve the present
force, naval and military; to provide for the augmentation of the navy;
and, if the danger of war should increase, to increase the army also.
Arm the militia, and give it the most effective character of which
it is susceptible. Provide in the most ample manner, and place in
proper depots, all the munitions and instruments of war. Fortify and
strengthen the weak and vulnerable points indicated by experience.
Construct military roads and canals, particularly from the Miami of
the Ohio to the Miami of Erie; from the Sciota to the bay of Sandusky;
from the Hudson to Ontario; that the facilities of transportation may
exist, of the men and means of the country, to points where they may be
wanted. I would employ on this subject a part of the army, which should
also be employed on our line of frontier, territorial and maritime, in
strengthening the works of defence. I would provide steam batteries for
the Mississippi, for Borgne and Ponchartrain, and for the Chesapeake,
and for any part of the north or east, where they might be beneficially
employed. In short, I would act seriously, effectively act, on the
principle, that in peace we ought to prepare for war; for I repeat,
again and again, that, in spite of all the prudence exerted by the
government, and the forbearance of others, the hour of trial will
come. These halcyon days of peace, this calm will yield to the storm
of war, and when that comes, I am for being prepared to breast it.
Has not the government been reproached for the want of preparation at
the commencement of the late war? And yet the same gentlemen who utter
these reproaches, instead of taking counsel from experience, would
leave the country in an unprepared condition.

He would as earnestly commence the great work, too long delayed, of
internal improvement. He desired to see a chain of turnpike roads and
canals, from Passamaquoddy to New Orleans; and other similar roads
intersecting the mountains, to facilitate intercourse between all
parts of the country, and to bind and connect us together. He would
also effectually protect our manufactories. We had given, at least,
an implied pledge to do so, by the course of administration. He would
afford them protection, not so much for the sake of the manufacturers
themselves, as for the general interest. We should thus have our wants
supplied, when foreign resources are cut off, and we should also lay
the basis of a system of taxation, to be resorted to when the revenue
from imports is stopped by war. Such, Mr. Chairman, is a rapid sketch
of the policy which it seems to me it becomes us to pursue. It is for
you now to decide, whether we shall draw wisdom from the past, or,
neglecting the lessons of recent experience, we shall go on headlong
without foresight, meriting and receiving the reproaches of the
community. I trust, sir, notwithstanding the unpromising appearances
sometimes presenting themselves, during the present session, we
shall yet do our duty. I appeal to the friends around me, with whom
I have been associated for years in public life; who nobly, manfully
vindicated the national character by a war, waged by a young people,
unskilled in arms, single-handed, against a veteran power――a war
which the nation has emerged from, covered with laurels; let us now
do something to ameliorate the internal condition of the country;
let us show that objects of domestic, no less than those of foreign
policy, receive our attention; let us fulfil the just expectations
of the public, whose eyes are anxiously directed towards this session
of congress; let us, by a liberal and enlightened policy, entitle
ourselves, upon our return home, to that best of all rewards, the
grateful exclamation, ‘well done, thou good and faithful servant.’



  [PRESIDENT MADISON, in a message dated December 26, 1816, had
  apprized congress, that the existing laws did not enable him
  to preserve the peace of the United States with foreign powers.
  The subject having been referred to the committee on foreign
  relations, that committee, through their chairman, Mr. Forsyth,
  of Georgia, reported a bill for enforcing neutrality. This bill
  was debated in committee of the whole, on the 24th of January,
  1817, by Messrs. Forsyth, Smith, of Maryland, Grosvenor, of New
  York, Randolph, of Virginia, Sharp, of Kentucky, Sheffey, of
  Virginia, Hopkinson, of Pennsylvania, and Clay (speaker). In
  the brief remarks of Mr. Clay it will be observed, that he
  renews the expression of his sympathies with the people of South
  America in their struggle for independence; and, considering
  the bill under discussion as intended to discountenance that
  revolution, he avowed his opposition to it.]

MR. CLAY (speaker). As long as the government abstained from taking
any part in the contest now carrying on in the southern part of
this continent, it was unquestionably its duty to maintain a strict
neutrality. On that point there was and could be no difference
of opinion. It ought not, however, to be overlooked, that the two
parties stood with this government on unequal ground. One of them
had an accredited minister here, to watch over its interests, and
to remonstrate against any acts of which it might complain; whilst
the other, being wholly unrepresented, had no organ through which
to communicate its grievances. This inequality of condition in the
contending parties, imposed upon us the duty of great circumspection
and prudence in what we might do.

Whenever a war exists, whether between two independent states or
between parts of a common empire, he knew of but two relations in which
other powers could stand towards the belligerents; the one was that of
neutrality, and the other that of a belligerent.

Being then in a state of neutrality respecting the contest, and bound
to maintain it, the question was, whether the provisions of the bill
were necessary to the performance of that duty? It will be recollected
that we have an existing law, directed against armaments, such as are
described in the bill. That law was passed in 1794. It was intended to
preserve our neutrality in the contest between France and her enemies.
The circumstances under which it was passed, must be yet fresh in our
recollection. The French revolution had excited a universal enthusiasm
in the cause of liberty. The flame reached this country, and spread
with electric rapidity throughout the continent. There was not a state,
county, city, or village, exempted from it. An ardent disposition to
enter into the conflict, on the side of France, was every where felt.
General Washington thought it the interest of this country to remain
neutral, and the law of 1794 was enacted, to restrain our citizens from
taking part in the contest. If that law had been effectual to preserve
the neutrality of this country, during the stormy period of the French
revolution, we ought to pause before we assent to the adoption of new
penalties and provisions. If the law did not reach the case (which he
understood to be doubtful from some judicial decisions), he was willing
to legislate so far as to make it comprehend it. Further than that, as
at present advised, he was not willing to go.

But the present bill not only went further, but, in his judgment,
contained provisions not demanded of us by our neutral duties. It
contained two principles not embraced by the law of 1794. The first
was, the requisition of a bond from the owners of armed vessels, that
persons, to whom they might sell these vessels, should not use them
in the contest. The second was, the power vested in the collectors to
seize and detain, under certain circumstances, any such vessels. Now,
with regard to the first provision, it is not denied that an armed
vessel may be lawfully sold by an American citizen to a foreign subject,
other than a subject of Spain. But on what ground is it possible, then,
to maintain, that it is the duty of the American citizen to become
responsible for the subsequent use which may be made of such vessel by
the foreign subject? We are bound to take care that our own citizens
do not violate our neutrality, but we are under no such obligation
as it respects the subjects of foreign powers. It is the business of
those foreign powers to guard the conduct of their own subjects. If
it be true, as he had heard it asserted, that Fell’s Point exhibits an
activity in hostile preparation, not surpassed during the late war, we
had enough to do with our own citizens. It was not incumbent upon us,
as a neutral power, to provide, after a legal sale had been made of
an armed vessel to a foreign subject, against any illegal use of the

Gentlemen have contended, that this bill ought to be considered as
intended merely to enforce our own laws; as a municipal regulation,
having no relation to the war now existing. It was impossible to
deceive ourselves, as to the true character of the measure. Bestow on
it what denomination you please, disguise it as you may, it is a law,
and will be understood by the whole world as a law, to discountenance
any aid being given to the South American colonies in a state of
revolution against the parent country. With respect to the nature
of that struggle, he had not now, for the first time, to express
his opinion and his wishes. An honorable gentleman from Virginia
(Mr. Sheffey) had said, the people of South America were incapable,
from the ignorance and superstition which prevail among them, of
achieving independence or enjoying liberty. And to what cause is that
ignorance and superstition owing? Was it not to the vices of their
government? to the tyranny and oppression, hierarchical and political,
under which they groaned? If Spain succeeded in riveting their chains
upon them, would not that ignorance and superstition be perpetuated?
In the event of that success, he feared the time would never arrive,
when the good wishes of the honorable gentleman from Virginia would
be conciliated in behalf of that oppressed and suffering people. For
his part, he wished their independence. It was the first step towards
improving their condition. Let them have free government, if they be
capable of enjoying it; but let them have, at all events, independence.
Yes, from the inmost recesses of my soul, I wish them independence.
I may be accused of an imprudent utterance of my feelings, on this
occasion. I care not; when the independence, the happiness, the liberty
of a whole people is at stake, and that people our neighbors, our
brethren, occupying a portion of the same continent, imitating our
example, and participating of the same sympathies with ourselves, I
will boldly avow my feelings and my wishes in their behalf, even at
the hazard of such an imputation.

But, notwithstanding the feelings which he cherished on this
subject, Mr. Clay admitted that it became us not to exhibit the
spectacle of a people at war and a government at peace. We ought to
perform our neutral duties, whilst we are neutral, without regard to
the unredressed injuries inflicted upon us by old Spain, on the one
hand, or to the glorious object of the struggle of the South American
patriots on the other. We ought to render strict justice, and no more.
If the bill on the table was limited to that object, he would vote for
it. But he thought it went further; that it assumed obligations which
we were not bound to incur, and, thinking so, he could not, in its
present shape, give to it his assent.



  [ON the fifth of February, 1816, Mr. Cyrus King, of
  Massachusetts, presented for consideration a resolution,
  instructing the committee on foreign relations to inquire
  into the expediency of excluding from the ports of the United
  States all foreign vessels, owned in, coming from, bound to,
  or touching at any of his Britannic majesty’s possessions in
  the West Indies, and in the continent of North America, from
  which the vessels of the United States are excluded; and of
  prohibiting or increasing the duties on the importation in
  foreign vessels, of any articles, the growth, produce, or
  manufacture of such possessions. This resolution underwent
  much discussion, but was finally laid upon the table, and the
  subject not again introduced during the same session. But on the
  twenty-seventh of January, 1817, there was introduced ‘a bill
  to prohibit all commercial intercourse with ports or places,
  into or with which, the vessels of the United States are not
  ordinarily permitted to enter or trade.’ On the thirtieth of
  January, this bill was called up and debated in committee of
  the whole. Among the speakers on the subject, were Messrs. Cyrus
  King, of Massachusetts, Smith, of Maryland, Wilde, of Georgia,
  Randolph, of Virginia, Lowndes, of South Carolina, Hopkinson, of
  Pennsylvania, and Clay (speaker).

  The whole subject was finally again laid on the table. The
  following are Mr. Clay’s remarks in this debate.]

MR. CLAY (speaker) said, that in one sentiment expressed by the
gentleman from Georgia he most heartily concurred; that the measure
contemplated by the bill, or by the proposed substitute, was the most
important, as respected at least our foreign relations, that had come
before congress at this session, or would probably be brought before it
for some years; a measure, which, whatever fate attended it, ought to
attract the attention of honorable members of this house, and to which,
he hoped, before the final question on it, they would give the most
mature consideration.

The importance of the question by no means depended simply on the value
of the trade between this country and the colonies of Great Britain.
But considering the question as it related merely to that trade, when
the fact was stated, that it consisted of six millions of dollars
imports, and of course a like amount of exports, it must be admitted,
the question was one of deep import, compared to any which at present
presented itself to the attention of congress. But, as was stated in
the president’s message, it was not solely important on account of the
effect of the colonial system on that trade, but the fact was, that the
exclusion from a participation in that navigation, essentially affected
the trade between this country and the British European possessions,
and, by the operation of the system, deprived us, in a great measure,
of the benefits of the convention of commerce with Great Britain, which
provided for the establishment of a perfect reciprocity of commerce
between the United States and the British European possessions. Even
if gentlemen were not disposed to do something to obtain for the
navigation of this country a participation in the colonial trade, they
ought to go so far as to place them on an equal footing as regarded
the European trade. Some measure ought to be devised, by which the
navigation of Great Britain should be prevented from enjoying peculiar
advantages over us, in a trade wherein reciprocity had been solemnly
promised by the convention, to which he had alluded.

Let us, then, inquire into the character of the evil proposed to
be remedied, and of the remedy that is offered. What is the evil?
Great Britain says, that the whole commerce between her colonies and
the United States shall be carried on in British ships, absolutely
excluding American ships from any participation in it. The most natural
course of the exchange of commodities between nations might be thus
defined; that each nation should carry its own products to market;
that we should carry of our produce what we do not want, but they do,
to British ports; and that they should bring what they do not want,
but we do, to our ports. With this course, however, Great Britain was
not satisfied. The next and perhaps the most equal and best mode of
providing for the free and fair interchange of commodities, was, to
open the trade equally and reciprocally to both parties, to let each
carry the commodities of both countries, in a fair competition. Great
Britain was not, however, disposed to do this. She not only prohibited
the carriage of her colonial commodities in our vessels; not only
entirely engrossed the export trade from her colonies, but refused to
allow us any participation, by conventional regulation or otherwise,
in the trade to the colonies. The effect was, to deprive us of the
advantages, in the augmentation of our commerce and increase of our
seamen, which would result from the carriage of our own produce, to
the amount of six millions of dollars annually.

With regard to the importance of encouraging our navigation, he said,
he need not resort to argument. The question of the importance of a
navy, to maintain and defend our rights, which had been some years
ago a question of a theoretical nature, was no longer so; it was now
a question of practical experience. All felt its importance, and all
acknowledged the expediency of cherishing, by all means in our power,
that important branch of national defence.

Gentlemen alarmed themselves by the apprehension, that the other party
would view as inimical any regulations countervailing her colonial
policy, and that the issue of this conflict of commercial regulations
would be war. He believed in no such result. If an exclusion of the
navigation and shipping of Great Britain from our ports be a measure
of a hostile character, said Mr. Clay, Great Britain has set us the
example; for she excludes our navigation and shipping from an extensive
range of her ports. He considered this rather as a diplomatic than a
hostile measure; but, if it were otherwise, she had set the example,
which she could not complain if we followed.

But, said he, let us look to the fact. What would be the light in
which Great Britain would view any such regulations as are proposed
by the bill? The convention of London contains an express stipulation
on the subject; and I will observe to gentlemen, that the clause which
exempts the colonial trade from the second article of the convention,
was introduced with the express view of retaining in our hands the
right to countervail the British regulations in this respect. It was
so understood by the framers of that convention. But we have later
evidence than that which is furnished by the terms of the convention.
The president, in his message at the opening of the session, says,
that it is ascertained, ‘that the British government declines all
negotiation on this subject; _with a disavowal_, however, of any
disposition to view in an unfriendly light, whatever _countervailing
regulations_ the United States may oppose to the regulations of which
they complain.’ Thus, then, we have evidence, both from the nature of
the case, and from the express declarations of the British government,
that it will not, because it cannot, view in an unfriendly light any
regulations which this government may find it expedient to adopt, to
countervail their policy. Mr. Clay said, he did not think that the
adoption of this policy on the part of Great Britain, ought to excite
any hostile feeling towards her. She was not singular in this respect.
Every country that has colonies in the West Indies, and which is not
too weak to defend them, endeavored, he said, to appropriate to itself
all the advantages of the trade with those colonies; and it would be
found that the relaxation of the rigor of that system by one nation or
another, was precisely graduated by the degree of ability to maintain
their colonies in peace, and defend them in war. There was nothing in
the regulations of Great Britain, which could be offensive, or possibly
lead to war. They might be complained of as selfish or unfriendly,
they certainly were the former. But Great Britain had a perfect right
to set the example before us; and the question was, whether the total
exclusion of our ships from the colonial ports of Britain, was such a
measure as we ought to fold our arms and submit to, without an effort
to obtain some part of the trade which she had attempted to appropriate
exclusively to herself?

Gentlemen had properly said, that this was a question which ought to
be well weighed before decided. Whatever we do, it ought to be with
a determination to adhere firmly to it. For, depend upon it, Great
Britain will never lightly relax her policy.

The policy of Great Britain was deeply laid in selfish considerations;
a policy which she had never relaxed, except in periods of war, when
it became her interest to do so, from the commencement of her colonies
to this time. The measure which we address to her interest, to induce
her to relax from the rigor of her colonial policy, should be a measure
framed with ample deliberation, which, when we adopt with resolution,
we will maintain with fortitude. For, the first conclusion of the
British government would undoubtedly be, that the American government
would be incapable of maintaining its regulations for any length of
time; and that government, in the expectation of a retraction of the
measure, would persevere in its policy as long as it could.

The question which presents itself, then, is, whether we will adopt
measures to induce a