Page images

bama and threw himself into the contest | his resignation was accepted because it had for Gen. Harrison with his characteristic been repeatedly tendered, and that his energy. Being the elector for his district, conduct was entirely approved. On his he canvassed it thoroughly, and carried it return he took part in the contest then by an overwhelming majority for the Whig going on, and warmly advocated the eleccandidates. So powerful an impulse was tion of Mr. Clay. In the spring of the given to the cause that it rolled its triumph- next year he was brought out as a candiant tide over South Alabama, and shook date for Congress. the mountain fastnesses of the northern por- The Montgomery district was, at that tion of that State. In Georgia, too, Mr. time, represented by a democrat; and the Hilliard exerted himself, with the greatest task of redeeming it was not a light one. success, for the interests of the Whig Mr. Hilliard was, however, elected and party.

took his seat in the House of RepresentaThe next year he was nominated for tives at the opening of the twenty-ninth Congress, but the Legislature interfered in Congress. behalf of Mr. Lewis, and, for the first

Since that time he has become well time, adopted the general ticket system- known to the whole country. A great referring the question whether it should question which came before Congress, excontinue to be the mode of electing repre- cited the deepest concern in the public sentatives, to the people, who decided that mind, and which gave rise to a protracted the district system should be restored. Mr. and powerful debate in both houses, afHilliard received in bis own district an forded bim the opportunity at once of exoverwhelming majority, but was, of course, hibiting his powers. Mr. C. J. Ingersoll, defeated by the northern portion of the chairman of the Committee on Foreign State,

Affairs, soon after the opening of the sesIn the summer of 1841, he was offered sion, reported to the house a resolution, a foreign mission, which he declined; but instructing the President to give notice tó in the spring of 1842, he was sent out as

the Government of Great Britain of our Minister to Belgium, to succeed the Hon. intention to terminate the joint occupancy Virgil Maxey, who was about to return of the Oregon Territory, the title to which home.

had long been in dispute between the two His residence in Brussels brought him countries. in contact with the representatives of other

Mr. Hillard made one of the first speechnations, and afforded him the opportunity es upon the question, and took a position of becoming extensively acquainted with that was new and bold; he proposed to the condition of the European States. amend Mr. Ingersoll's resolution, which His own countrymen travelling abroad re

instructed the President to give the conceived from him such attention as have templated notice forthwith, so as to embeen, on more than one occasion, the sub- power the President to give the notice, at ject of public acknowledgements. One of such time as, in his judgment, the public our own citizens, residing in Albany, who, welfare might require it, thus transferring in company with three others from the the responsibility from Congress to the State of New York, visited Brussels in Executive, where it properly belonged. 1843, described Mr. Hilliard “as really His speech in support of his views was an American Minister and a practical re- pronounced on all sides to be a most tripublican.” Mr. Hilliard voluntarily gave umphant one. It made a profound imup his mission, and returned to the United pression on the house and the country, and States in the fall of 1844—having repre- he at once took rank with the first debaresented his country in a manner so satis- ters in Congress. Political and personal factory that he acquired the good will of friends gathered about him with their conthe Belgian Government, while he enjoyed gratulations, and among the members, the the confidence of his own ; and while the venerable Mr. Adams was observed to apBelgian journals of Brussels contained the proach and grasp him by the hand, saying most favorable notices of him when about with deep feeling, “Sir, I can forbear no to retire from the Belgian Court, he re- longer ; I am come to congratulate you ; ceived from home an official assurance that I think you have settled the question."

Mr. Hillard was disposed to maintain our "Nor, sir, is the danger of war all that is intitle to Oregon with firmness, but at the volved in the adjournment of this question; same time he desired to avoid a war if it we incur the danger of losing the territory alcould be done without too great a sacrifice together. And why do I think so ? From the

whole colonial history of the British empire. of the rights and the dignity of the Ameri

There was a time when Spain possessed great can Government. It seemed to him that and extensive colonies, but they have dwinpeace between the two countries, and our dled away. There was a time when France own interests, could both be better served could boast of her colonies, but they have by action, than by the further postpone- dwindled away. There was a time when ment of a settlement of the question. A

Holland swept the seas with her fleets, and paragraph or two from his speech will pre- have dwindled away. In the mean time Great

held important colonial possessions, but they sent his views :

Britain has gone on, growing in strength, ex"There are occasions when, to save what abroad, into every part of the habitable world.

tending her power, and spreading her armies is dear to us, it becomes necessary to act Her language, her laws, her military prowess, promptly ;-to act with decision, and to act

fill both hemispheres, while she has belted the immediately, is often the only way to act with globe with her fortresses, to say nothing of her effect. I do not see that we have any course colonies. The British people and their Gov. left but to act, whether we regard the perpe- ernment well understand the management of tuity of peace or the possession of the territo- colonies. When in Europe, a short time ry in dispute. If we would avoid war, we

since, a distinguished British diplomatist said must have the causes of war passed upon and to me, “Sir, France does not understand how settled. It is not always by adjourning over to manage colonies; we do understand it;" great, and difficult, and delicate questions, that and he spoke the truth. Since the year 1609, war can be avoided. Our condition in regard Great Britain has acquired no less than fortyto Oregon is such as to demand action-intel

one colonies, twenty-four of which she has ligent, prompt, decisive, comprehensive action. obtained by settlement, nine by capitulation, If we should leave this question open, in the and eight by cession. In the possession of Orepresent state of the two countries, who can gon, she seeks to plant herself there permaavoid seeing that war is inevitable ?

nently, and is employing all her power and all "When Lord Ashburton returned to England, her skill to establish her authority over the after having successfully arranged the difficul- greater part of that region.” ties about the northeastern boundary, and was congratulated in the British Parliament on his He admitted that the measures which he success, I believe that experienced statesman

advised might lead to war. He should sinsaid that the national sky was then clear and without a cloud, saving one minute speck upon cerely deplore such a result. He had no the horizon, which he did not doubt would sympathy with the warlike spirit which had soon disappear. But how has his prediction been manifested by others upon the floor. been fulfilled? That little speck, then no big. He said : ger than a man's hand, and scarce perceptible on the far-off margin of the heavens, has “Peaceful triumphs alone are those which since become a dark, and lowering, and por- I seek—the benign victories of reason and tentous cloud; it has swept over the face of truth. These I desire, and none other. If, the sky, and hangs all over our northwestern however, while pursuing such a policy-a poli. frontier, gloomy as night. The whole aspect cy wise, vigorous, but conciliatory, war should of the question is changed; and, if we wish come upon us, I trust the country will be prenow to maintain our position as the friends pared to meet it. If it should come upon us of peace, it is time we awoke to action. We as the result of a moderate but firm assertion must assert our rights; we must shun a tem- of our national rights, the response in every porizing policy ; we must adopt vigorous American bosom must be, “Let it come.” measures, and carry them to the very farthest The venerable gentleman from Massachusetts verge to which they can be maintained with- near me, (Mr. Adams,) in tones which rang on out a violation of the terms of the convention. my heart like a trumpet, reminded me of the Otherwise, we shall find that the population days of our revolutionary glory. The old of the two nations intermixing in that remote fire which blazed so brightly in that ever territory, carrying with them the prejudices and memorable struggle, seemed to be flashing up heat of the contending parties, protected by within him; and, whilst I listened to his paand amenable to conflicting jurisdictions, en- triotic strains, I felt assured that in such a tering into the eager competition of trade-will, cause we should all act as one man. If at no distant day, precipitate us into a war we should go into the war in this spirit, I with Great Britain.

should feel little anxiety as to how we should come out. The power of England is fast ap- the moral aspect of this great question. Genproaching the culminating point. It must soon tlemen have talked much and eloquently about reach that climax in the history of nations the horrors of war. I should regret the nefrom which they have, one after another, com- cessity of a war; I should deplore its dreadmenced their decline; and she ought not to ful scenes; but if the possession of Oregon enter into a contest with a great Power. If gives us a territory opening upon the nawise counsels prevail

, she will not. Yet, if tion prospects such as I describe, and if, for she should be so irrational, on the ground of the simple exercise of our rights in regard to such a controversy as that of Oregon, as to it, Great Britain should wage war upon us, an rush into such a contest, I trust that she will unjust war, the regret which every one must be driven back from these shores shorn of her feel will at least have much to counterbalance splendor; and she may be very sure that when it. One of England's own writers has said: this happens, it will prove no temporary | The possible destiny of the United States of eclipse, but will endure for all time to come; America, as a nation of one hundred millions and she will be left a portent in the political of freemen, stretching from the Atlantic to the heavens,

Pacific, living under the laws of Alfred, and

speaking the language of Shakspeare and • Shedding disastrous twilight over half the nations.'"

Milton, is an august conception.'

“It is an august conception, finely embodied; He felt the greatest solicitude to secure and I trust in God that it will, at no distant an important possession on the Pacific time, become a reality. I trust that the world coast, because he believed that it would will see, through all time, our people living, contribute to the wealth, the power, and not only under the laws of Alfred, but that the glory of the country. At that time they will be heard to speak throughout our we had no other possessions on that distant wide-spread borders the language of Shak. region than those which we might be able speare and Milton. Above all is it my prayer

that, as long as our posterity shall continue to to secure in Oregon, and he fully estimated inhabit these mountains and plains, and hills the advantages which an establishment and valleys, they may be found living under there would give us in prosecuting our the sacred institutions of Christianity. Put trade with Southern China. We quote these things together, and what a picture do from the conclusion of his speech the fol- they present to the mental eye! Civilization lowing passage :

and intelligence started in the East; they have

travelled and are still travelling westward; In either of the views which I have pre-of the earth, and reached the extremest verge

but when they shall have completed the circuit sented, it is impossible that the importance of of the Pacific shores; then, unlike the fabled Oregon can be overlooked. I trust that these god of the ancients, who dipped his glowing great results will be realized, and I hope at no

axle in the western wave, they will take up distant day to see a mail line established across

their permanent abode; then shall we enjoy the continent. England has very recently been

the sublime destiny of returning these blessings engaged in an experiment in ascertaining the

to their ancient seat; then will it be ours to shortest overland route across the continent of Europe to the East Indies; and I believe the give the priceless benefits of our free institu

tions, and the pure and healthful light of the Oriental Steam Company has determined upon Gospel, back to the dark family which has so that through Germany, by Trieste; but if we construct this railroad, she will then be de- Christianity plant herself there, and while,

long lost both truth and freedom; then may pendent on us for the shortest and most expe- with one hand she points to the Polynesian ditious, as well as the safest route to China isles, rejoicing in the late recovered treasure and her East India possessions. Is not the of revealed truth, with the other present the language of Berkley in the progress of fulfill

Bible to the Chinese. It is our duty to aid in ment, when he wrote that immortal line

this great work. I trust we shall esteem it Westward the star of empire takes its way.' as much our honor as our duty. Let us not,

like some of the British missionaries, give When Oregon shall be in our possession, when them the bible in one hand and opium in the we shall have established a profitable trade other, but bless them only with the pure word with China through her ports, when our ships of truth. I hope the day is not distant-soon, traverse the Pacific as they now cross the At

soon may

its dawn arise—to shed upon the lantic, and all the countless consequences of farthest and the most benighted of nations the such a state of things begin to flow in upon us, splendor of more than a tropical sun." then will be fulfilled that vision which rapt and filled the mind of Nunez as he gazed over the

Mr. Hilliard was a member of the Como placid waves of the Pacific.

mittee of Conference, which disposed of “I will now address myself for a moment to the question by reporting a resolution as to the notice almost identical with that | down? Shall we infuse new vigor into the which he had proposed, and it was carried war, by voting the men and the money asked through both Houses by large majorities.

for, or shall we withdraw all support from the

war, and arrest it before it has accomplished At the same session, he was entrusted

its objects ? by the Committee of which he was a mem- If the question were now presented to me, ber, with the duty of inquiring into the between peace and war, I should undoubtedly expediency of opening a communication be in favor of peace. But no such election with Europe by a line of Mail Steamers of is presented to us. The spectacle before us our own, and he presented an elaborate is a war in progress; our own country on one report in favor of the enterprize, of which side, a foreign country on the other ; our own

country, at every step which our armies take, copies to be printed; and a bill, framed holding forth an offer of peace, an offer which

the enemy as yet have shown no disposition in accordance with its views, was passed. to entertain. This is enough for me. I range

Utterly opposed as he was to the usur- myself on that side on which I see the stanpation of authority with which the Presi- dard of my country. The question before dent conducted the operations of our ar

Congress is, “Shall we prosecute this war ?" mies against Mexico, he steadfastly sus- On that question I cannot hesitate for a mo

ment. tained the cause of the country, by voting

The Constitution has conferred on on every occasion in favor of granting the Congress the prerogative of declaring war. We

have recognised the war, and by that vote we supplies of men and money which the Ad

have made the Chief Magistrate responsible ministration asked for carrying on the war, for the mode of conducting it. So long as the from the first to the last, incurring with President is thus responsible, by the theory of some others who thought as he did, the our Government, he is charged with the concensure of those who felt it their duty to duct of the war. He is invested with all the arrest hostilities by depriving our Govern- authority which belongs to that important stament of the means of repelling them.

tion. It is for us to say how far we will go In

in voting supplies ; and it must be a great one of his speeches on the war, he said :

crisis, one such as I have never yet seen, and

which has never occurred in our history, " But first, as to the war. This is the great which would warrant me in refusing to vote theme of the message—the prominent colossal them. Other gentlemen must of course decide figure in the foreground of the picture, about for themselves; these are my convictions. I which the other objects are grouped in hum shall, therefore, while I should be happy to bler and smaller proportions. I suppose


see this war brought to a speedy and honormust be so; our foreign relations, with the able termination, continue to sustain the Govsingle unhappy exception referred to, are all ernment in its prosecution, till such terms of of the most amicable kind; our internal tran

peace as we ought to accept can be secured. quillity is perfect ; the vast resources of our I trust, too, that this will be the sentiment of country are in a course of prosperous devel- the whole country. So far, the progress of opment. There is but the one check to our

the war has been marked by a self-sacrificing prosperity; but for this, the President informs and patriotic spirit, which illustrates our free us, the public debt would have been discharg. institutions, and by victories as remarkable ed, and we might now have been engaged in and brilliant as any which history records. plans for increasing the happiness of our peo- Whatever regrets may be felt at the interrupple, and advancing in our high career of civil- tion of the long career of peace which our ization. But, though it must be admitted that country has enjoyed, we have at least grawar is a calamity, yet I cannot bring myself tifying proof that it has left no enervating into agree with those who think it best to ar

fluence on the national character." rest all our movements against Mexico. I concur in opinion with a distinguished Senator from Delaware, (Mr. J. M. CLAYTON,)

He added : “We ought not to strike who, some days since, took occasion to say,

with a view to dismember the possessions that he was decidedly in favor of sustaining of a weaker people, but our operations the Government in the prosecution of the war. ought to be characterized by unfaltering My honorable friend from Philadelphia, (Mr. energy, and by such a putting forth of J. R. INGERSOLL,) has avowed the same determination. I do not see that any other strength as shall teach those whom

against course is left us. The question is not now, they are directed that it is their interest to whether we shall plunge into a war or not;

seek a speedy peace. I would accept the the question is, a war having been commen- first sign of such a disposition on the part ced, shall we sustain it, or shall we let it go of Mexico; and so far from degrading or crushing her, I would meet her with the lation for the Territories, that power is by no

means an unlimited one. most generous terms. They should be

It is just here that marked by the magnanimity of a great na

gentlemen often fall into error. Exclusive

does not mean unlimited. The power to which tion treating with a weak one.”

I refer is exclusive, in that it acknowledges Upon the proposition which has been

no co-ordinate jurisdiction; but it is restricted, more than once brought forward in Con- as are all powers delegated to Congress. gress, to exclude slavery from the territory While Congress, then, undertakes to exercise acquired from Mexico, Mr. Hilliard has the power of exclusive legislation for the expressed himself with great force and Territories, it is bound to carry on its legislaclearness. He regards the proposition as

tion in reference to the character of the States neither patriotic nor in accordance with

of this confederacy from which it derives the the spirit of the Constitution. This ques- States, and cannot, without an abuse of pow

power. It must regard the rights of all the tion is one of acknowledged magnitude er, legislate for the benefit of one section at and difficulty. Mr. Hilliard views it as a the expense of another; it is an abuse of its southern representative, but he uniformly power, as an agent for the States, I care not treats it as a great American question, in- whether the legislation be for the benefit of the volving our highest interests and appealing benefit of the North at the expense of the

South at the expense of the North, or for the to the patriotism of the whole country: South. He insists that the principle of the Wilmot

" This brings me to my third proposition, Proviso is unjust and dangerous—origina- which is, that Congress is not, in its legislation ting in no real concern for the condition of for the Territories, to look to their welfare the slave, but prompted by a desire to ag- alone, but is bound to regard the good of the grandize one section of the Union at the parties interested in the ownership of the Terexpense of the other. He has at all times ritories. This, it will be perceived, is in divigorously resisted what he conceives to

rect opposition to the opinions advanced by be a threatened encroachment upon the the successor of Mr. Adams, (Mr. Mann,) in

a distinguished gentleman from Massachusetts, rights of the South, but he has as stead- his beautiful introductory speech in this hall fastly contended for the preservation of a speech which, I confess, I listened to with the Union. His opinions of this great admiration, though I strongly dissented from question are expressed with so much clear- some of its sentiments. The gentleman insists ness in his speech viewing the policy of that Congress, in legislating for the TerritoMr. Polk's administration, in the House of ries, must look to their good alone, and shape Representatives on the 24th of July, 1848, without any regard to the rights of the people

all measures so as to advance their prosperity that we quote a passage from it.

of the several States. This doctrine, though

it has a certain charm about, is wholly erro“In regard to the authority of Congress neous. Let us apply this reasoning to the over the Territories of the United States 1 de Territory of Oregon, which, stretching along sire to give my views. The question, at all the Pacific coast, fronts certain parts of times an interesting one, has now assumed Northeastern Asia. Would Congress have a great practical importance. The first proposi- right to say that this Territory should be occution which I shall state is, that Congress pos- pied only by colonists from China because a sesses exclusive power to legislate for the prosperous trade might be attained with the Territories of the United States. Of this I do East, and the prosperity of Oregon rapidly adnot entertain a doubt; and, while I have vanced if that course were taken? Unquesheard various opinions expressed here in re- tionably not. Or, suppose that Congress gard to this subject, I am at a loss to see how should happen to conclude that it was imporany one who examines it can reach any other tant to the welfare of that Territory to allow conclusion. That the whole power over the only a manufacturing population to remove Territories originally rests in Congress is per- there, would it be proper to legislate for this fectly clear, and it remains for those who as- object? Unquestionably not. sert that the right to legislate in respect to “ The gentleman from Massachusetts considthem belongs to the people who inhabit them ers territory which we acquire as the property to show at what time the power is transferred of this Government, and insists that Congress from Congress to the inhabitants. But, sir, possesses the right to control it absolutely. this question has been so often examined here This is a very common error.

It results from that I will not consume my limited time in a certain system of political training. If our considering it.

Government were a monarchy, and all powers, • My second proposition is, that while Con- or the sovereign power, centered in the crown, gress possesses the exclusive power of legis- | the argument might hold good; or it might be

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »