« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
prejudices oppose us. Seventh, the reviewers and literary speculators, foreign and domestic. And, lastly, the leading presses of the country, including the influence of that which is established in this city, and sustained by the public purse.
From some of these, or other causes, the bill may be postponed, thwarted, defeated. But the cause is the cause of the country, and it must and will prevail
. It is founded in the interests and affections of the people. It is as native as the granite deeply imbosomed in our mountains. And, in conclusion, I would pray God, in His infinite mercy, to avert from our country the evils which are impending over it, and, by enlightening our councils, to conduct us into that path which leads to riches, to greatness, to glory.
I rise to address you, Mr. President, under a greater weight of responsibility than I have ever before experienced. Being under a solemn conviction, that the system, recommended by this bill, (should it become the settled policy of the country,) is calculated to create jealousies, to banish all common sympathy among the people, and array particular states and certain peculiar interests, in deadly hostility towards each other, I cannot but consider the final triumph of such a policy as destined to put in jeopardy the peace and harmony of the whole union. The preservation of the system will render necessary successive acts of legislation, and the Congress of the United States, instead of looking to great national objects, will find it. self hereafter constantly engaged in settling the conflicting claims of interested monopolists, and attempting to measure out to the several states and the various employments of labor and capital, an equal proportion of protection and encouragement. I can perceive no end to the difficulties in which we must be involved by such a course of legislation; I can discover no means of avoiding the fierce conflicts to which it must give rise, short of the final abandonment of the whole scheme, which, however necessary, will be attended by ruin to those who shall be tempted, by your restrictions and bounties, to engage in unprofitable pursuits. Whatever advantages may possibly accrue to the east or the west, from this bill, it is certain
that it must operate most injuriously on the south. While the inhabitants of that portion of the union will enjoy no part of your bounties, they will be called upon to furnish, (in the enhanced price of all the articles of their consumption,) the means of making profitable the pursuits of others. The cotton-growing states will, moreover, be exposed to the risk of having the foreign market for their produce cut off: a calamity which would involve in total and irretrievable ruin that valuable, and, I may be permitted to add, interesting and faithful, portion of our common country. However unfounded these apprehensions may be, they are universally felt in the southern states, and appear to my mind to rest on such a solid foundation, that in opposing this bill I consider myself called upon to maintain interests of inestimable value, and to endeavor to avert calamities of immense magnitude. The difficulty of this undertaking, however, is no less appalling than the magnitude of the danger. The question has been discussed by some of the ablest men our country has produced, and almost all the arguments which belong to it have been already urged, in a manner the most forcible, and in language the most persuasive. I did hope, sir, that every shadow of doubt, which the influence of preconceived opinions, or the suggestions of interest, had thrown around this subject, would have been dispelled by the extensive and profound learning, the brilliant wit, and the delightful and almost resistless eloquence with which it has been treated by my friends. I am conscious of my inability to add one ray of intellectual light to the full blaze with which they, in the meridian splendor of their learning and eloquence,
have invested it; and if the minds of our opponents still remain involved in more than Cimmerian darkness, I cannot indulge the hope, that they will be enlightened by any thing which I can say. The causes, (whatever they may be,) which have hitherto • shut out the light,” resisted the truth and rendered argument useless, cannot be removed by me. If I were at liberty, therefore, to consult entirely my own
inclinations, I should, perhaps, close my lips and await in silence that decree, which must blight the prospects and wither the prosperity of those whom I have the honor to represent; and may, at no distant day, be fatal to the best hopes and dearest interests of my country. But, I know that some effort, however feeble or unavailing, is expected from me, by those who, having honored me with their confidence, are entitled to my best exertions in their behalf
. In obeying this call, I am consoled by the recollection, that in the course of the debate on this floor, exploded doctrines and arguments, a thousand times refuted, having been revived and enforced, it is, perhaps, proper that they should be again answered, that the poison, as often as it may be administered, and in whatever form it may be infused into the public mind, may always be accompanied by the antidote.
I shall proceed, therefore, Mr. President, to ascertain the true character of this bill, to examine the principles on which it is founded, to consider its objects, and to take a brief view of its probable effects.
[Mr. Hayne first considered the bill as founded on the principle, that the importation of all foreign goods must be prohibited, which we were supposed capable of making at home. After advancing his arguments, to prove that such was the principle of the bill, and his objections to it on that ground, he proceeded as follows:]
But, if this bill does not look to prohibition; if its true object be to draw labor and capital from certain pursuits, supposed to be unprofitable, into others, which, it is asserted, will be more advantageous, both to individuals and the state, I should still strongly object to the measure, as resting on visionary theories and false doctrines; as being necessarily unjust and unequal in its operation, and calculated to aggravate the very evils it is intended to remedy.
The first objection, which I shall urge against this policy is, that it assumes, that government is capable of regulating industry, better than individuals ; a posi
tion which is wholly untenable. From the nature of things, labor and capital should be permitted to seek their own employment, under the guidance, entirely, of individual prudence and sagacity. Government, from the very elevation of its position, is necessarily incapable of taking that close view of the subject, and obtaining that accurate knowledge of details, indispensable to a judicious determination, of the relative advantages of different pursuits in any community. This depends so much on local circumstances, that personal observation and individual exertions are alone competent to the task. I deny, that any government can enter into the private walks of life, and wisely control the pursuits of its citizens; or judiciously regulate the various branches of home industry. In the domestic concerns of nations, as of individuals, it is sufficient that men are prevented from trespassing on the property, or invading the rights of their neighbors. In all other respects, they should be left entirely free. On this point, I have been so forcibly struck, with the sound and practical views, taken by the merchants of Philadelphia, in their excellent memorial, that I must be permitted to read an extract, and to adopt, as my own, the sentiments it contains :-“ Be the wisdom, and impartiality, and foresight of the Legislature what they may, they can at no time, and under no circumstances, be perfectly adequate to the task. The subject is beyond the scope of human intelligence, except, when it is individually and personally applied to that limited space, within which the individual moves; and in this particular, trade differs little from the thousand other interests of the great family-which, it is the ordinance of Heaven, should be wrought out by the separate wisdom and exertions of its members, with scarcely a consciousness how the work is produced, and with an utter inability on their parts, to contrive the results beforehand." If any doubts existed on this point, I should have supposed that the most superficial observer would have discovered, in the progress of this bill, conclusive evidence of our utter incapacity to ac