صور الصفحة


[ocr errors]

cumstances which attended the organization of the government; | the utter disregard for the dignity of the Senate, manifested by

'the majority in forcing into the Presidential chair, against his

I will, a person confessedly incompetent to discharge its duties,

and who was compelled to abandon his post within a week after his election; the systematic attempt to smuggle into the other branch of the Legislature an irregular and illegal vote, for the purpose of securing a party majority in the choice of a Speaker; the mingled corruption and treachery by which the majority in joint ballot was but too plainly procured; the summary expulsion from office of such men as then occupied the posts of Secretary and Treasurer, and the hunt which was obliged to be instituted for a responsible person to take charge of the public moneys, reminding us almost of the old philosopher with his lantern, hunting for an honest man; — these, with their accompanying incidents, were enough to fill with disgust and indignation all, all, who had hearts for the prosperity and honor of the Old Bay State.

And yet they formed, after all, but the appropriate prelude to the mingled tragedy and farce which followed. They were but the fitting overture to that series of Legislative and Executive acts, which signalized the triumph of the false democracy over Ike true. They formed, especially, but the becoming introduction to that Executive message with which the serious business of the session commenced. Not soon shall I forget the emotions with which I perused the late message of Governor Morton, on its arrival in Washington. Not soon shall I forget the indignant expressions of my honorable and excellent friend, the late member from Salem, (Mr. Saltonstall,) who chanced to be at my elbow when the mail brought it in to us at midnight, as I read it aloud to him. Five hundred miles away from home, associated with the representatives of other States, we had something of that sensitiveness on the subject of old Massachusetts, something of that jealousy as to every thing which might affect her reputation and renown, which travellers in a foreign country are wont to feel as to the native land they have left behind them. And what was our humiliation at hearing from her own Council Chamber, as from authority, such per

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

versions of her past history, such reproaches upon her present condition, such an abuse of her previous rulers, such insinuations as to her credit, such imputations upon her integrity, such an impeachment of her honesty! If it had been a stranger who had said these things we could have borne it No—let me not say so — we could not have borne it If any citizen of another State had uttered such a tirade against old Massachusetts, if a member of Congress from any other part of the country had indulged in such reproaches upon her policy and principles, we should have felt, — every one of the Massachusetts members of Congress, (Mr. Parmenter, I am sure, not excepted,) would have felt, — that it must not pass unanswered and unrebuked. S'j

Our constituents, of both parties, would not have held us guilt- I'i'

less, for suffering it to go by in silence. But it was no stranger;
it was our brother; our fellow-citizen; our chosen Chief Magis-
trate, with the highest honors of the Commonwealth freshly
cast upon him, — with the robes of office in their newest gloss
upon his back. What a return for honors conferred! And
what an inducement, too,—what a consideration, for a renewal
of those honors now! Why, fellow-citizens, the citizen of Mas-
sachusetts who should now approach Governor Morton to lend
him his support, as he presents himself again for our suffrages—
after the libels he has uttered on the character of the Common-
wealth — must approach him, I should imagine, in something
of the spirit in which Shakspeare's Shylock represents himself
as approaching the Merchant of Venice to lend him moneys:—

"He should bend low, and in a bondman's key,
With 'bated breath, and whispering humbleness,

Say this — »!

Fair Sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last,
You spurned me such a day; — another time
You called me dog, and for these courtesies
I '11 give you my vote. You shall be our Governor."

Mr. Chairman, I have no purpose to enter into any detailed analysis of the late Governor's Message, or of the Legislative proceedings by which it was followed. This work has been done, ably, admirably done, already, by those who have had far greater opportunities than myself, — by those who have '!

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

related things which they saw, and part of which they were. But I shall be pardoned for dwelling on one or two of the points in the message of Governor Morton, and in the conduct of his party in the Legislature, which have impressed themselves most deeply on the mind of one who has looked on at a distance.

And first, I desire to say a word as to the language of the Governor, in relation to our State credit Sir, if there has been any thing as to which the people of this Commonwealth have felt, and have had a right to feel, a true and lively satisfaction, a just and generous pride, during the past ten years, it has been the credit of Massachusetts at home and abroad. We have seen the scrip of the Commonwealth, as is well said in these resolutions, first among the foremost in the world; always commending itself to the confidence of capitalists; often selling where no other scrip could find a market; often sought for when it was not to be found; and, in the worst of times, commanding a higher price than that of any other State in the Union. No delay to pay interest, no denial of the obligation to pay principal, elsewhere, — no repudiation, expressed or implied, has sensibly affected its value. The mildewed ears of other States have not been able to blast their wholesome brother here! Let me recount a little incident, which is only one among a hundred within every body's knowledge, to illustrate the estimation in which Massachusetts stock is held. I remember being called from my seat by a distinguished foreigner, of great intelligence, last winter, to converse with him about the credit of the States; and I remember the pride I felt when he told me, that after a careful examination of the whole subject, he had come to the conclusion that Massachusetts stock was the best State stock in the world, and that, although he had invested his funds heretofore in the stock of a State in which the name of repudiation had never been breathed, and where interest and principal had always been punctually paid, he had determined to sell out this stock at a discount, and buy in Massachusetts stock, even at a premium. There was one other stock, he did, indeed, say that he should have preferred. It was not a State stock, and the mention of it in no degree alloyed my satisfaction or diminished my pride. It was the stock of the good old city of Boston, — which, he said, was the very best in the world; but as this could not be procured for love or money, and as he wished to feel perfectly safe and easy in leaving a little money behind him, while he made a visit to his own home, he was resolved to obtain the stock of Massachusetts at any sacrifice which might be necessary.

But what was the language of our own Governor in regard to this State stock of ours in his last message? "I cannot refrain from the expression of my apprehension, (says he,) that the investment of it (the School Fund) in the scrip of the Commonwealth, may endanger its ultimate safety." And he then proceeded seriously to submit to the wisdom of the Legislature, whether a different investment of that fund might not be safer. Something safer than the bond of Massachusetts! Something more reliable than the honor and faith of the old Puritan State! And this, too, from one who has had the undeserved distinction of affixing his signature to great numbers of these bo/ids, as Governor of the Commonwealth! I trust that his wish was not father to this thought! I trust that no willingness, no desire, no determination to have the old forebodings of himself and his party, as to these loans of credit, fulfilled, has led to such an expression. I trust in Heaven, that this idea has not been advanced in this message, to prepare the way for the doctrine of repudiation in the next! Prepare the way, do I say! With grief and shame I pronounce it, the late Message of Governor Morton seems to me not only to have prepared the way, but to have advanced the doctrine outright, — certainly to have implied it, with a distinctness which admits of no misinterpretation or mistake. What does he say further, in regard to this School Fund of ours? Let me read the very words, for fear of being thought to misquote or pervert "Should any of the Corporations (he says) to whom this scrip has been loaned, fail to pay the interest or the principal when due, the only security — mark it, "the only security"—which the School Fund would have, would consist in the will of the Legislature, to impose an annual tax, to be paid to the several towns for the support of the town schools." Not a word here about the solemn obligation of the State to redeem her scrip, her whole scrip, — to pay interest and principal, both to the uttermost farthing, whenever and '!



[ocr errors][ocr errors]

■wherever due, without regard to the persons by whom it is held, or the purposes to which it may have been devoted! Not a syllable of all this. Nothing of that manly, honest, high-toned assertion of the inviolability of State Faith, which has been accustomed to be heard, and which always ought to be heard, from the high places of Massachusetts. But, on the contrary, the idea is deliberately held out, that if the Railroads should not pay, the scrip would become worthless, the School Fund would be lost forever, and the only relief for the cause of Education, would rest on the discretion of the Legislature, manifesting itself by annual appropriations in its behalf. Gentlemen, I was about to say that this was repudiation in disguise; but the more I think of it, and the oftener I read it, the more it seems to be repudiation without any disguise whatever — so plain and so palpable, that he who runs may read,—so naked and so unblushing, that he who reads would almost be ready to run!

Indeed, there is a refinement on the common and ordinary doctrine of repudiation, in this message of Governor Morton, which has had no precedent, and which I venture to say, will have no parallel, elsewhere. What is the real gist of this suggestion as to the School Fund, when stripped of its specious phraseology, and presented nakedly to the view? It is nothing less than this,—that the State should take measures, without delay, to get rid of any of its own scrip, which it may happen to have on hand, in contemplation of voluntary bankruptcy, in the very view, and almost with the purpose of repudiation; — that the State should put off, as fast as possible, upon others, its own notes of hand, for fear they should become worthless! What an idea is this, for the Governor of Massachusetts to advance. Why, the beauties of modern banking afford nothing richer than this! The raciest annals of modern financiering, furnish nothing more racy! Change the investment of your School Fund, says the Governor, and sell off to others — to the ignorant or unwary foreigner, whose friendship to your country and its liberties, may have given him a confidence in its credit — your own stock, which you are afraid to keep yourself! What a recommendation! And this under cover of a most laudable concern for Education and the Public Schools. In Heaven's name let not the holy

« السابقةمتابعة »