The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7


iSpeech

Yours etc.,

A. LINCOLN.

1843

RESOLUTIONS AT A WHIG MEETING AT SPRINGFIELD,
ILLINOIS, MARCH 1, 1843.

The object of the meeting was stated by Mr. Lincoln of
Springfield, who offered the following resolutions, which were
unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That a tariff of duties on imported goods, producing
sufficient revenue for the payment of the necessary expenditures
of the National Government, and so adjusted as to protect
American industry, is indispensably necessary to the prosperity
of the American people.

Resolved, That we are opposed to direct taxation for the support
of the National Government.

Resolved, That a national bank, properly restricted, is highly
necessary and proper to the establishment and maintenance of a
sound currency, and for the cheap and safe collection, keeping,
and disbursing of the public revenue.

Resolved, That the distribution of the proceeds of the sales of
the public lands, upon the principles of Mr. Clay's bill, accords
with the best interests of the nation, and particularly with
those of the State of Illinois.

Resolved, That we recommend to the Whigs of each Congressional
district of the State to nominate and support at the approaching
election a candidate of their own principles, regardless of the
chances of success.

Resolved, That we recommend to th, Whigs of all portions of the
State to adopt and rigidly adhere to the convention system of
nominating candidates.

Resolved, That we recommend to the Whigs of each Congressional
district to hold a district convention on or before the first
Monday of May next, to be composed of a number of delegates from
each county equal to double the n tuber of its representatives in
the General Assembly, provided, each county shall have at least
one delegate. Said delegates to be chosen by primary meetings of
the Whigs, at such times and places as they in their respective
counties may see fit. Said district conventions each to nominate
one candidate for Congress, and one delegate to a national
convention for the purpose of nominating candidates for President
and Vice-President of the United States. The seven delegates so
nominated to a national convention to have power to add two
delegates to their own number, and to fill all vacancies.

Resolved, That A. T. Bledsoe, S. T. Logan, and A. Lincoln be
appointed a committee to prepare an address to the people of the
State.

Resolved, That N. W. Edwards, A. G. Henry, James H. Matheny, John
C. Doremus, and James C. Conkling be appointed a Whig Central
State Committee, with authority to fill any vacancy that may
occur in the committee.

CIRCULAR FROM WHIG COMMITTEE.

Address to the People of Illinois.

FELLOW-CITIZENS:-By a resolution of a meeting of such of the
Whigs of the State as are now at Springfield, we, the
undersigned, were appointed to prepare an address to you. The
performance of that task we now undertake.

Several resolutions were adopted by the meeting; and the chief
object of this address is to show briefly the reasons for their
adoption.

The first of those resolutions declares a tariff of duties upon
foreign importations, producing sufficient revenue for the
support of the General Government, and so adjusted as to protect
American industry, to be indispensably necessary to the
prosperity of the American people; and the second declares direct
taxation for a national revenue to be improper. Those two
resolutions are kindred in their nature, and therefore proper and
convenient to be considered together. The question of protection
is a subject entirely too broad to be crowded into a few pages
only, together with several other subjects. On that point we
therefore content ourselves with giving the following extracts
from the writings of Mr. Jefferson, General Jackson, and the
speech of Mr. Calhoun:

"To be independent for the comforts of life, we must fabricate
them ourselves. We must now place the manufacturer by the side
of the agriculturalist. The grand inquiry now is, Shall we make
our own comforts, or go without them at the will of a foreign
nation? He, therefore, who is now against domestic manufactures
must be for reducing us either to dependence on that foreign
nation, or to be clothed in skins and to live like wild beasts in
dens and caverns. I am not one of those; experience has taught
me that manufactures are now as necessary to our independence as
to our comfort." Letter of Mr. Jefferson to Benjamin Austin.

"I ask, What is the real situation of the agriculturalist? Where
has the American farmer a market for his surplus produce? Except
for cotton, he has neither a foreign nor a home market. Does not
this clearly prove, when there is no market at home or abroad,
that there [is] too much labor employed in agriculture? Common
sense at once points out the remedy. Take from agriculture six
hundred thousand men, women, and children, and you will at once
give a market for more breadstuffs than all Europe now furnishes.
In short, we have been too long subject to the policy of British
merchants. It is time we should become a little more
Americanized, and instead of feeding the paupers and laborers of
England, feed our own; or else in a short time, by continuing our
present policy, we shall all be rendered paupers ourselves."--
General Jackson's Letter to Dr. Coleman.

"When our manufactures are grown to a certain perfection, as they
soon will be, under the fostering care of government, the farmer
will find a ready market for his surplus produce, and--what is of
equal consequence--a certain and cheap supply of all he wants;
his prosperity will diffuse itself to every class of the
community." Speech of Hon. J. C. Calhoun on the Tariff.

The question of revenue we will now briefly consider. For
several years past the revenues of the government have been
unequal to its expenditures, and consequently loan after loan,
sometimes direct and sometimes indirect in form, has been
resorted to. By this means a new national debt has been created,
and is still growing on us with a rapidity fearful to
contemplate--a rapidity only reasonably to be expected in time of
war. This state of things has been produced by a prevailing
unwillingness either to increase the tariff or resort to direct
taxation. But the one or the other must come. Coming
expenditures must be met, and the present debt must be paid; and
money cannot always be borrowed for these objects. The system of
loans is but temporary in its nature, and must soon explode. It
is a system not only ruinous while it lasts, but one that must
soon fail and leave us destitute. As an individual who
undertakes to live by borrowing soon finds his original means
devoured by interest, and, next, no one left to borrow from, so
must it be with a government.

We repeat, then, that a tariff sufficient for revenue, or a
direct tax, must soon be resorted to; and, indeed, we believe
this alternative is now denied by no one. But which system shall
be adopted? Some of our opponents, in theory, admit the propriety
of a tariff sufficient for a revenue, but even they will not in
practice vote for such a tariff; while others boldly advocate
direct taxation. Inasmuch, therefore, as some of them boldly
advocate direct taxation, and all the rest--or so nearly all as
to make exceptions needless--refuse to adopt the tariff, we think
it is doing them no injustice to class them all as advocates of
direct taxation. Indeed, we believe they are only delaying an
open avowal of the system till they can assure themselves that
the people will tolerate it. Let us, then, briefly compare the
two systems. The tariff is the cheaper system, because the
duties, being collected in large parcels at a few commercial
points, will require comparatively few officers in their
collection; while by the direct-tax system the land must be
literally covered with assessors and collectors, going forth like
swarms of Egyptian locusts, devouring every blade of grass and
other green thing. And, again, by the tariff system the whole
revenue is paid by the consumers of foreign goods, and those
chiefly the luxuries, and not the necessaries, of life. By this
system the man who contents himself to live upon the products of
his own country pays nothing at all. And surely that country is
extensive enough, and its products abundant and varied enough, to
answer all the real wants of its people. In short, by this
system the burthen of revenue falls almost entirely on the
wealthy and luxurious few, while the substantial and laboring
many who live at home, and upon home products, go entirely free.
By the direct-tax system none can escape. However strictly the
citizen may exclude from his premises all foreign luxuries,--fine
cloths, fine silks, rich wines, golden chains, and diamond
rings,--still, for the possession of his house, his barn, and his
homespun, he is to be perpetually haunted and harassed by the
tax-gatherer. With these views we leave it to be determined
whether we or our opponents are the more truly democratic on the
subject.

The third resolution declares the necessity and propriety of a
national bank. During the last fifty years so much has been said
and written both as to the constitutionality and expediency of
such an institution, that we could not hope to improve in the
least on former discussions of the subject, were we to undertake
it. We, therefore, upon the question of constitutionality
content ourselves with remarking the facts that the first
national bank was established chiefly by the same men who formed
the Constitution, at a time when that instrument was but two
years old, and receiving the sanction, as President, of the
immortal Washington; that the second received the sanction, as
President, of Mr. Madison, to whom common consent has awarded the
proud title of "Father of the Constitution"; and subsequently the
sanction of the Supreme Court, the most enlightened judicial
tribunal in the world. Upon the question of expediency, we only
ask you to examine the history of the times during the existence
of the two banks, and compare those times with the miserable
present.

The fourth resolution declares the expediency of Mr. Clay's land
bill. Much incomprehensible jargon is often used against the
constitutionality of this measure. We forbear, in this place,
attempting an answer to it, simply because, in our opinion, those
who urge it are through party zeal resolved not to see or
acknowledge the truth. The question of expediency, at least so
far as Illinois is concerned, seems to us the clearest
imaginable. By the bill we are to receive annually a large sum
of money, no part of which we otherwise receive. The precise
annual sum cannot be known in advance; it doubtless will vary in
different years. Still it is something to know that in the last
year--a year of almost unparalleled pecuniary pressure--it
amounted to more than forty thousand dollars. This annual
income, in the midst of our almost insupportable difficulties, in
the days of our severest necessity, our political opponents are
furiously resolving to take and keep from us. And for what?
Many silly reasons are given, as is usual in cases where a single
good one is not to be found. One is that by giving us the
proceeds of the lands we impoverish the national treasury, and
thereby render necessary an increase of the tariff. This may be
true; but if so, the amount of it only is that those whose pride,
whose abundance of means, prompt them to spurn the manufactures
of our country, and to strut in British cloaks and coats and
pantaloons, may have to pay a few cents more on the yard for the
cloth that makes them. A terrible evil, truly, to the Illinois
farmer, who never wore, nor ever expects to wear, a single yard
of British goods in his whole life. Another of their reasons is
that by the passage and continuance of Mr. Clay's bill, we
prevent the passage of a bill which would give us more. This, if
it were sound in itself, is waging destructive war with the
former position; for if Mr. Clay's bill impoverishes the treasury
too much, what shall be said of one that impoverishes it still
more? But it is not sound in itself. It is not true that Mr.
Clay's bill prevents the passage of one more favorable to us of
the new States. Considering the strength and opposite interest
of the old States, the wonder is that they ever permitted one to
pass so favorable as Mr. Clay's. The last twenty-odd years'
efforts to reduce the price of the lands, and to pass graduation
bills and cession bills, prove the assertion to be true; and if
there were no experience in support of it, the reason itself is
plain. The States in which none, or few, of the public lands
lie, and those consequently interested against parting with them
except for the best price, are the majority; and a moment's
reflection will show that they must ever continue the majority,
because by the time one of the original new States (Ohio, for
example) becomes populous and gets weight in Congress, the public
lands in her limits are so nearly sold out that in every point
material to this question she becomes an old State. She does not
wish the price reduced, because there is none left for her
citizens to buy; she does not wish them ceded to the States in
which they lie, because they no longer lie in her limits, and she
will get nothing by the cession. In the nature of things, the
States interested in the reduction of price, in graduation, in
cession, and in all similar projects, never can be the majority.
Nor is there reason to hope that any of them can ever succeed as
a Democratic party measure, because we have heretofore seen that
party in full power, year after year, with many of their leaders
making loud professions in favor of these projects, and yet doing
nothing. What reason, then, is there to believe they will
hereafter do better? In every light in which we can view this
question, it amounts simply to this: Shall we accept our share of
the proceeds under Mr. Clay's bill, or shall we rather reject
that and get nothing?

The fifth resolution recommends that a Whig candidate for
Congress be run in every district, regardless of the chances of
success. We are aware that it is sometimes a temporary
gratification, when a friend cannot succeed, to be able to choose
between opponents; but we believe that that gratification is the
seed-time which never fails to be followed by a most abundant
harvest of bitterness. By this policy we entangle ourselves. By
voting for our opponents, such of us as do it in some measure
estop ourselves to complain of their acts, however glaringly
wrong we may believe them to be. By this policy no one portion
of our friends can ever be certain as to what course another
portion may adopt; and by this want of mutual and perfect
understanding our political identity is partially frittered away
and lost. And, again, those who are thus elected by our aid ever
become our bitterest persecutors. Take a few prominent examples.
In 1830 Reynolds was elected Governor; in 1835 we exerted our
whole strength to elect Judge Young to the United States Senate,
which effort, though failing, gave him the prominence that
subsequently elected him; in 1836 General Ewing, was so elected
to the United States Senate; and yet let us ask what three men
have been more perseveringly vindictive in their assaults upon
all our men and measures than they? During the last summer the
whole State was covered with pamphlet editions of
misrepresentations against us, methodized into chapters and
verses, written by two of these same men,--Reynolds and Young, in
which they did not stop at charging us with error merely, but
roundly denounced us as the designing enemies of human liberty,
itself. If it be the will of Heaven that such men shall
politically live, be it so; but never, never again permit them to
draw a particle of their sustenance from us.

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