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versed, under the influence of a cabinet, little less than despotic, composed, to all efficient purposes, of two Virginians and a foreigner. When I speak of these men as Virginians, I mean to cast no odium upon that state, as though it were not entitled to its full share of influence in the national councils; nor, when I refer to one of them as being a foreigner, do I intend thereby to suggest any connexions of a nature unworthy or suspicious. I refer to these circumstances as general and undoubted facts, which belong to the characters of the cabinet, and which cannot fail to be taken into view in all estimates of plans and projects, so long as man is constituted as he is, and so long as the prejudices and principles of childhood never fail to influence, in different degrees, in even the best men, the course of thinking and action of their riper years.
I might have said, perhaps, with more strict propriety, that it was a cabinet composed of three Virginians and a foreigner; because, once, in the course of the twelve years, there has been a change of one of the characters. But, sir, that change was, notoriously, matter of form rather than substance. As it respects the cabinet, the principles continued the same; the interests the same; the objects, at which it aimed, the same.
I said, that this cabinet had been, during these twelve years, little less than despotic. This fact, also, is notorious. During this whole period, the measures, distinctly recommended, have been adopted by the two Houses of Congress with as much uniformity and with as little modification, too, as the measures of the British ministry have been adopted, during the same period, by the British parliament. The connexion between cabinet councils and parliamentary acts, is just as intimate, in the one country, as in the other.
I said, that these three men constituted, to all efficient purposes, the whole cabinet. This, also, is notorious. It is true, that, during this period, other individuals have been called into the cabinet. But they were all
of them, comparatively, minor men ; such as had no great weight, either of personal talents, or of personal influence, to support them. They were kept as instruments of the master spirits. And when they failed to answer the purpose, or became restive, they were sacrificed, or provided for. The shades were made to play upon the curtain. They entered. They bowed to the audience. They did what they were bidden. They said what was set down for them. When those, who pulled the wires, saw fit, they passed away. No man knew why they entered. No man knew why they departed. No man could tell whence they came. No man asked whither they were gone.
From this uniform composition of the cabinet, it is obvious that the project of the master spirits was that of essential influence within the cabinet. For, in such a country as ours, so extended, and its interests so complicated, it is impossible but those who would conduct its affairs wisely, and with a single eye to the public good, should strive to call around themselves the highest and most independent talents in the nation; at least of their own political friends. When this is not the case, it must be apparent, that the leading influences want not associates, but instruments. The same principle applies to the distribution of office, out of the cabinet, as to filling places within it. Some mistakes may be expected to happen in selections, among candidates for appointments, at a distance. But, if at any time a cabinet shall be systematically guided in such selection by a regard, not to merit, or qualifications, but to electioneering services; if the obvious design be to reward partizans, and encourage defection to its party standard, then the people may rest assured, that the project, such cabinet has in view, is not to serve the public interest, but to secure their personal influence; and that they want, not competency for the employment, but subserviency in it. How this matter is, I shall not assert; not because I have not very distinct opinions upon the subject; but
because the sphere of appointment is too extensive to be comprehended in the grasp of a single individual; and I mean to make no assertion concerning motive, or conduct, of which there does not exist in my mind, evidence as well complete, as conclusive. I refer to this subject, therefore, only as a collateral and coroborative proof of the purposes of the cabinet. Every man can decide for himself, in his own circle or neighborhood, concerning the apparent principle, upon which the cabinet have proceeded in making appointments; remembering, always, that the section of country, against whose prosperity the policy of the cabinet is most systematically levelled, will be that, in which subserviency to all its purposes will be most studiously inculcated among its adherents. It will be in that quarter, that the flames of party animosity will be enkindled with the most sedulous assiduity, as the means of making men forgetful of their true interests, and obedient to their employers, in spite of their natural prejudices and inclinations.
It is natural to inquire, what are the projects connected with a cabinet thus composed, and to what ends it is advancing. To answer this question, it is necessary to look into the nature and relations of things. Here the true criterions of judgment are to be found. Professions are always plausible. Why, sir, Bonaparte himself is the very milk of human kindness; he is the greatest lover of his species in the world; he would not hurt a sparrow, if you take his own account of the matter. What, then, do nature and the relations of things teach? They teach this, that the great hazard in a government, where the chief magistracy is elective, is from the local ambition of states and the personal ambition of individuals. It is no reflection upon any state to say, that it is ambitious. According to their opportunities and temptations all states are ambitious. This quality is as much predicable of states, as of individuals. Indeed, state ambition has its root in the same passions of human nature, and derives its strength from the same nutriment, as personal
ambition. All history shows, that such passions always exist among states, combined in confederacies. To deny it, is to deceive ourselves. It has existed, it does exist, and always must exist. In our political relations, as in our personal, we then walk most safely, when we walk with reference to the actual existence of things; admit the weaknesses, and do not hide from ourselves the dangers, to which our nature is exposed. Whatever is true, let us confess. Nations, as well as individuals, are only safe, in proportion as they attain self-knowledge, and regulate their conduct by it.
What fact, upon this point, does our own experience present? It presents this striking one; that, taking the years, for which the presidential chair is already filled, into the account, out of twenty-eight years, since our constitution was established, the single state of Virginia has furnished the President, for twentyfour years. And, further, it is now as distinctly known, and familiarly talked about, in this city and vicinity, who is the destined successor of the present President after the expiration of his ensuing term, and known, that he, too, is to be a Virginian, as it was known and familiarly talked about, during the presidency of Mr. Jefferson, that the present President was to be his
And the former was, and the latter is, a subject of as much notoriety, and, to human appearance, of as much certainty, too, as who will be the successor to the British crown, is a matter of notoriety in that country. To secure this succession and keep it in the destined line, has been, is, and will continue to be, the main object of the policy of these men. This is the point, on which the projects of the cabinet for the three years past have been brought to bear, that James the first, should be made to continue four years longer. And this is the point, on which the projects of the cabinet will be brought to bear for the three years to come—that James the second, shall be made to succeed, according to the fundamental rescripts of the Monticellian dynasty.
[Mr. Quincy was, here, again called to order. The
Speaker said that, really, the gentleman laid his premises so remote from his conclusions, that he could not see how his observations applied to the bill. Mr. Quincy proceeded.]
On the contrary, sir, I maintain that both my premises and conclusions are very proximate to each other, and intimately connected with the bill on the table, and with the welfare of this people.
Is it not within the scope of just debate to show, that the general policy of the cabinet, and that also this particular project have for their object the aggrandizement of the cabinet themselves; or some member of it? If this be the object of the bill, is it not proper to be exhibited ? The topic may be of a nature, high and critical, but no man can deny, that it is both important and relevant. To secure the power, they at present possess, to perpetuate it in their own hands, and to transfer it to their selected favorites, is the great project of the policy of the members of our cabinet. It would be easy to trace to this master passion the declaration of war, at the time, and under the circumstances, in which it occurred. Antecedent to the declaration of war, it was distinctly stated by individuals from that quarter of the country, under the influences of which this war was adopted, that the support of the present President of the United States by their quarter of the country, depended upon the fact of the cabinet's coming up to the point of war with Great Britain. This state of things, and the knowledge of it by the members of the cabinet, was repeatedly urged in conversation by members of this and the other branch of the legislature, to shake the incredulity, in a declaration of war, which at that time existed in some of our minds. Without placing any reliance on the reports of that day, this 1 assert, unequivocally, and without fear of contradiction, that such were the passions, which existed in the southern and western states, and such the avowed determination to war, that had not the cabinet come up to that