Page images
PDF
EPUB

establishing a separation, what would be your situation? Are you united at home-are you free from the apprehension of civil discord, with all its fearful consequences? Do our neighbouring republics, every day suffering some new revolution or contending with some new insurrection—do they excite your envy? But the dictates of a high duty oblige me solemnly to announce that you cannot succeed. The laws of the United States must be executed. I have no discretionary power on the subject-my duty is emphatically pronounced in the constitution. Those who told you that you might peaceably prevent their execution, deceived you—they could not have been deceived themselves. They know that a forcible opposition could alone prevent the execution of the laws, and they know that such opposition must be repelled. Their object is disunion; but be not deceived by names: disunion, by armed force, is treason. Are you really ready to incur its guilt? If you are, on the heads of the instigators of the act be the dreadful consequences on their heads be the dishonour, but on yours may fall the punishment—on your unhappy state will inevitably fall all the evils of the conflict you force upon the government of your country. It cannot accede to the mad project of disunion of which you would be the first victims—its first magistrate cannot, if he would, avoid the performance of his duty—the consequence must be fearful for you, distressing to your fellow-citizens here, and to the friends of good government throughout the world. Its enemies have beheld our prosperity with a vexation they could not conceal --it was a standing refutation of their slavish doctrines, and they will point to our discord with the triumph of malignant joy, It is yet in your power to disappoint them. There is yet time to show that the descendants of the Pinckneys, the Sumters, the Rutledges, and of the thousand other names which adorn the pages of your Revolutionary history, will not abandon that Union, to support which so many of them fought and bled and died. I adjure you, as you honour their memory-as you love the cause of freedom, to which they dedicated their lives—as you prize the peace of your country, the lives of its best citizens, and your own fair fame, to retrace your steps. Snatch from the archives of your state the disorganizing edict of its convention—bid its members to reassemble and promulgate the decided expressions of your will to remain in the path which alone can conduct you to safety, prosperity, and honour—tell them that, compared to disunion, all other evils are light, because that brings with it an accumulation of all—declare that

you will never take the field unless the star-spangled banner of your country shall float over you—that you will not be stigmatized when dead, and dishonoured and scorned while you live, as the authors of the first attack on the constitution of your country! -its destroyers you cannot be. You may disturb its peace—you may interrupt the course of its prosperity-you may cloud its reputation for stability—but its tranquillity will be restored, its prosperity will return; and the stain upon its national character will be transferred, and remain an eternal blot on the memory of those who caused the disorder.

Fellow-citizens of the United States! The threat of unhallowed disunion—the names of those, once respected, by whom it is uttered—the array of military force to support it-denote the approach of a crisis in our affairs on which the continuance of our unexampled prosperity, our political existence, and perhaps that of all free governments, may depend. The conjuncture demanded a free, a full, and explicit enunciation not only of my intentions, but of my principles of action : and as the claim was asserted of a right by a state to annul the laws of the Union, and even to secede from it at pleasure, a frank exposition of my opinions in relation to the origin and form of our government, and the construction I give to the instrument by which it was created, seemed to be proper. Having the fullest confidence in the justness of the legal and constitutional opinion of my duties which has been expressed, I rely with equal confidence on your undivided support in my determination to execute the laws—to preserve the Union by all constitutional means—to arrest, if possible, by moderate but firm measures, the necessity of a recourse to force; and, if it be the will of Heaven that the recurrence of its primeval curse on man for the shedding of a brother's blood should fall upon our land, that it be not called down by any offensive act on the part of the United States.

Fellow-citizens! The momentous case is before you. On your undivided support of your government depends the decision of the great question it involves, whether your sacred Union will be preserved, and the blessing it secures to us as one people shall be perpetuated. No one can doubt the unanimity with which that decision will be expressed, will be such as to inspire new confidence in republican institutions, and that the prudence, the wisdom, and the courage which it will bring to their defence, will transmit them unimpaired and invigorated, to our children.

May the great Ruler of nations grant that the signal blessings with which He has favoured ours, may not by the madness of party or personal ambition be disregarded and lost : and may His wise Providence bring those who have produced this crisis, to see the folly before they feel the misery of civil strife: and inspire a returning veneration for that Union which, if we may dare to penetrate His designs, he has chosen as the only means of attaining the high destinies to which we may reasonably aspire.

GENERAL JACKSON'S

FAREWELL ADDRESS

TO THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES,

ON RETIRING FROM THE PRESIDENCY,

MARCH 4, 1837.

FELLOW-CITIZENS :-Being about to retire finally from public life, I beg leave to offer you my grateful thanks for the many proofs of kindness and confidence which I have received at your hands. It has been my fortune, in the discharge of public duties, civil and military, frequently to have found myself in difficult and trying situations, where prompt decision and energetic action were necessary, and where the interest of the country required that high responsibilities should be fearlessly encountered : and it is with the deepest emotions of gratitude that I acknowledge the continued and unbroken confidence with which you have sustained me in every trial. My public life has been a long one, and I cannot hope that it has, at all times, been free from errors. But I have the consolation of knowing that, if mistakes have been committed, they have not seriously injured the country I so anxiously endeavoured to serve;

Ι and, at the moment when I surrender my last public trust, I leave this great people prosperous and happy ; in the full enjoyment of liberty and peace, and honoured and respected by every nation of the world.

If my humble efforts have, in any degree, contributed to preserve to you these blessings, I have been more than rewarded by the honours you have heaped upon me; and, above all, by the generous confidence with which you have continued to animate and cheer my path to the closing hour of my political life. The time has now come, when advanced age and a broken frame warn me to retire from public concerns; but the recollection of the many favours you have bestowed upon me, is engraven upon my heart, and I have felt that I could not part from your service without making this public acknowledgment of the gratitude I owe you. And if I use the occasion to offer you the counsels of age and experience, you will, I trust, receive them with the same indulgent kindness which you have so often extended to me, and will at least see in them an earnest desire to perpetuate in this favoured land the blessings of liberty and equal laws.

33 *

(389)

We have now lived almost fifty years under the constitution framed by the sages and patriots of the Revolution. The conflicts in which the nations of Europe were engaged during a great part of this period ; the spirit in which they waged war against each other, and our intimate commercial connexions with every part of the civilized world, rendered it a time of much difficulty for the government of the United States. We have had our seasons of peace and of war, with all the evils which precede or follow a state of hostility with powerful nations. We encountered these trials with our constitution yet in its infancy, and under the disadvantages which a new and untried government must always feel when it is called upon to put forth its whole strength, without the lights of experience to guide it, or the weight of precedents to justify its measures, But we have passed triumphantly through all these difficulties. Our constitution is no longer a doubtful experiment; and, at the end of nearly half a century, we find that it has preserved unimpaired the liberties of the people, secured the rights of property, and that our country has improved and is flourishing beyond any former example in the history of nations.

In our domestic concerns, there is everything to encourage us; and if you are true to yourselves, nothing can impede your march to the highest point of national prosperity. The states which had so long been retarded in their improvement, by the Indian tribes residing in the midst of them, are at length relieved from the evil, and this unhappy race—the original dwellers in our land—are now placed in a situation where we may well hope that they will share in the blessings of civilization, and be saved from that degradation and destruction to which they were rapidly hastening while they remained in the states; and while the safety and comfort of our own citizens have been greatly promoted by their removal, the philanthropist will rejoice that the last remnant of that ill-fated race has been at length placed beyond the reach of injury or oppression, and that the paternal care of the general government will hereafter watch over them and protect them.

If we turn to our relations with foreign powers, we find our condition equally gratifying. Actuated by the sincere desire to do justice to every nation, and to preserve the blessings of peace, our intercourse with them has been conducted on the part of this government in the spirit of frankness, and I take pleasure in saying, that it has generally been met in a corresponding temper. Difficulties of old standing have been surmounted by friendly discussion, and the mutual desire to be just; and the claims of our citizens,

a

which have been long withheld, have at length been acknowledged and adjusted, and satisfactory arrangements made for their final payment; and with a limited, and I trust, a temporary exception, our relations with every foreign power are now of the most friendly character-our commerce continually expanding, and our flag respected in every quarter of the globe.

These cheering and grateful prospects, and these multiplied favours, we owe, under Providence, to the adoption of the federal constitution. It is no longer a question whether this great country can remain happily united, and flourish under our present form of government. Experience, the unerring test of all human undertakings, has shown the wisdom and foresight of those who formed it; and has proved, that in the union of these states there is a sure foundation for the brightest hopes of freedom, and for the happiness of the people. At every hazard, and by every sacrifice, this Union must be preserved.

The necessity of watching with jealous anxiety for the preservation of the Union, was earnestly pressed upon his fellow-citizens by the Father of his country, in his farewell address. He has there told us, that “while experience shall not have demonstrated its impracticability, there will always be reason to distrust the patriotism of those who, in any quarter, may endeavour to weaken its bonds;"> and he has cautioned us in the strongest terms against the formation of parties on geographical discriminations, as one of the means which might disturb our Union, and to which designing men would be likely to resort.

The lessons contained in this invaluable legacy of Washington to his countrymen, should be cherished in the heart of every citizen to the latest generation; and, perhaps, at no period of time could they be more usefully remembered than at the present moment. For when we look upon the scenes that are passing around us, and dwell upon the pages of his parting address, his paternal counsels would seem to be not merely the offspring of wisdom and foresight, but the voice of prophecy foretelling events and warning us of the evil to come. Forty years have passed since this imperishable document was given to his countrymen. The federal constitution was then regarded by him as an experiment,--and he so speaks of it in his address,—but an experiment upon the success of which the best hopes of his country depended; and we all know that he was prepared to lay down his life, if necessary, to secure to it a full and fair trial. The trial has been made. It has succeeded beyond the proudest hopes of those who framed it. Every quarter of this widely-extended nation has felt its blessings, and shared in the general prosperity produced by its adoption. But amid this general prosperity and splendid success, the dangers of which he warned us are becoming every day more evident, and

[ocr errors]
« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »