General Smith’s Views of the Powers and Policy of the Government of the United States, 7 February 1844

  • Source Note
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The aspirations and expectations of a virtuous people, environed with so wise, so liberal, so deep, so broad, and so high a charter of equal rights, as appears in said Constitution, ought to be treated by those to whom the administration of the laws are intrusted, with as much sanctity, as the prayers of the saints are treated in heaven, that love, confidence and union, like the sun, moon and stars should bear witness,
(For ever singing as they shine,)
The hand that made us is divine!
Unity is power, and when I reflect on the importance of it to the stability of all governments, I am astounded at the silly moves of persons and parties, to foment discord in order to ride into power on the current of popular excitement; nor am I less surprized at the stretches of power, or restrictions of right, which too often appear as acts of legislators, to pave the way to some favorite political schemes, as destitute of intrinsic merit, as a wolf’s heart is of the milk of human kindness: a Frenchman would say, “prosque tout aimer richesses et pouvoir:” (almost all men like wealth and power.)
I must dwell on this subject longer than others, for nearly one hundred years ago that golden patriot, Benjamin Franklin, drew up a plan of union for the then Colonies of Great Britain that now are such an Independent , which among many wise provisions for obedient children under their father’s more rugged hand, had this:—“they have power to make laws, and lay and levy such general duties, imports, or taxes, as to them shall appear most equal and just, (considering the ability and other circumstances of the inhabitants in the several colonies,) and such as may be collected with the least inconvenience to the people; rather discouraging luxury, than loading industry with unnecessary burthens.” Great Britain surely lacked the laudable humanity and fostering clemency to grant such a just plan of union—but the sentiment remains like the land that honor’d its birth, as a pattern for wise men to study the convenience of the people more than the comfort of the cabinet.
And one of the most noble fathers of our freedom and ’s glory: great in war, great in peace, great in the estimation of the world, and great in the hearts of his countrymen, the illustrious [George] Washington, said in his first inaugural address to Congress: “I behold the surest pledges that as, on one side, no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views or party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests, so, on another, that the foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality; and the pre-eminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the world.” Verily, here shines the virtue and the wisdom of a statesman in such lucid rays that had every succeeding Congress followed the rich instruction, in all their deliberations and enactments, for the benefits and convenience of the whole community and the communities of which it is composed, no sound of a rebellion in South Carolina; no rupture in Rhode Island; no mob in expelling her citizens by executive authority; corruption in the ballot boxes; a border warfare between and : hard times and distress: oubreak upon outbreak in the principal cities: murder, robbery, and defalcation, scarcity of money, and a thousand other difficulties, would have torn asunder the [p. 4]
The aspirations and expectations of a virtuous people, environed with so wise, so liberal, so deep, so broad, and so high a charter of equal rights, as appears in said Constitution, ought to be treated by those to whom the administration of the laws are intrusted, with as much sanctity, as the prayers of the saints are treated in heaven, that love, confidence and union, like the sun, moon and stars should bear witness,
(For ever singing as they shine,)
The hand that made us is divine!
Unity is power, and when I reflect on the importance of it to the stability of all governments, I am astounded at the silly moves of persons and parties, to foment discord in order to ride into power on the current of popular excitement; nor am I less surprized at the stretches of power, or restrictions of right, which too often appear as acts of legislators, to pave the way to some favorite political schemes, as destitute of intrinsic merit, as a wolf’s heart is of the milk of human kindness: a Frenchman would say, “prosque tout aimer richesses et pouvoir:” (almost all men like wealth and power.)
I must dwell on this subject longer than others, for nearly one hundred years ago that golden patriot, Benjamin Franklin, drew up a plan of union for the then Colonies of Great Britain that now are such an Independent , which among many wise provisions for obedient children under their father’s more rugged hand, had this:—“they have power to make laws, and lay and levy such general duties, imports, or taxes, as to them shall appear most equal and just, (considering the ability and other circumstances of the inhabitants in the several colonies,) and such as may be collected with the least inconvenience to the people; rather discouraging luxury, than loading industry with unnecessary burthens.” Great Britain surely lacked the laudable humanity and fostering clemency to grant such a just plan of union—but the sentiment remains like the land that honor’d its birth, as a pattern for wise men to study the convenience of the people more than the comfort of the cabinet.
And one of the most noble fathers of our freedom and ’s glory: great in war, great in peace, great in the estimation of the world, and great in the hearts of his countrymen, the illustrious George Washington, said in his first inaugural address to Congress: “I behold the surest pledges that as, on one side, no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views or party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests, so, on another, that the foundations of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality; and the pre-eminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens, and command the respect of the world.” Verily, here shines the virtue and the wisdom of a statesman in such lucid rays that had every succeeding Congress followed the rich instruction, in all their deliberations and enactments, for the benefits and convenience of the whole community and the communities of which it is composed, no sound of a rebellion in South Carolina; no rupture in Rhode Island; no mob in expelling her citizens by executive authority; corruption in the ballot boxes; a border warfare between and : hard times and distress: oubreak upon outbreak in the principal cities: murder, robbery, and defalcation, scarcity of money, and a thousand other difficulties, would have torn asunder the [p. 4]
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