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Adams, John Quincy, 1767-

Sixth President of the United States; from 1825 to 1829; Republican; born in Braintree, Mass., July 11, 1767; was a son of President John Adams; and was graduated at Harvard College in 1787. In February, 1778, he accompanied his father to France, where he studied the French and Latin languages for nearly two years. After an interval, he returned to France and resumed his studies, which were subsequently pursued at Amsterdam and at the University of Leyden. At the age of fourteen years, he accompanied Mr. Dana to Russia as his private secretary. The next year he spent some time at Stockholm, Copenhagen, and Hamburg. He afterwards accompanied his father (who was American minister) to England and France and returned home with him early in 1785. After his graduation at Harvard, he studied law with the eminent Theophilus Parsons, practised at Boston, and soon became distinguished as a political writer.

In 1791 he published a series of articles in favor of neutrality with France over the signature of “Publius.” He was engaged in the diplomatic service of his country as minister, successively, to Holland, England, and Prussia from 1794 to 1801. He received a commission, in 1798, to negotiate a treaty with Sweden. At Berlin he wrote a series of Letters from Silesia. Mr. Adams married Louisa, daughter of Joshua Johnson, American consul at London, in 1797. He took a seat in the Senate of Massachusetts in 1802, and he occupied one in that of the United States from 1803 until 1808. when disagreeing with the legislature of Massachusetts on the embargo question, he resigned. From 1806 to 1809 he was Professor of Rhetoric in Harvard College. In the latter year he was appointed by President Madison minister to Russia; and in 1814, while serving in that office, he was chosen one of the United States commissioners to negotiate a treaty of peace at Ghent. After that, he and Henry Clay and Albert Gallatin negotiated a commercial treaty with Great Britain, which was signed July 13, 1815. Mr. Adams remained in London as minister until 1817, when he was recalled to take the office of Secretary of State. This was at the beginning of what was popularly known as the “era of good feeling.” the settlement of questions growing out of the war with Great Britain (1812-15) having freed the government from foreign political embarrassments and enabled it to give fuller attention to domestic concerns. During his occupation of this office Mr. Adams was identified with the negotiation of the treaty with Spain by which Florida was ceded to the United States for $5,000,000, and by which also the boundary between Louisiana and Mexico was established. He is credited with having been the author of the declaration known as the “Monroe doctrine” (see Monroe, James). The closing part of his term as Secretary was marked by the legislation of the “Missouri compromise” (Missouri). When President Monroe [34] submitted to his cabinet the two questions concerning the interpretation of the act as passed by the Congress, Mr. Adams stood alone in the opinion that the word “forever” meant forever.

When Monroe's administration was drawing to a close, several prominent men were spoken of as candidates for the Presidency — William C. Crawford, John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, and Andrew Jackson. The votes in the autumn of 1824 showed that the people had not elected either of the candidates; and when the votes of the Electoral College were counted, it was found that the choice of President devolved upon the House of Representatives. In February, 1825, that body chose John Quincy Adams President, and John C. Calhoun Vice-President. Mr. Adams received the votes of 13 States on the first ballot, General Jackson 7 States, and Mr. Crawford 4 States. Mr. Calhoun received the votes of 182 of the electors, against 78 for all others. The Electoral College had given Jackson the largest vote of any candidate --99--and Adams 84. See cabinet, President's.

In 1831 Mr. Adams was elected to Congress. and was continued in it by successive elections until his death, which occurred suddenly in the Capitol, on Feb. 23, 1848. His last words were, “This is the last of earth; I an content.” Mr. Adams was a ripe scholar, an able diplomatist, a life-long opponent of human slavery, a bold and unflinching advocate for its abolition. When he was eighty years of age he was called “The old man eloquent.” He wrote prose and poetry with almost equal facility and purity of diction. See Marquis De Lafayette.

Pan-American Union.

On Dec. 26, 1825. President Adams sent the following message to the Senate, in which he amplified the views concerning a Pan-American union which he had expressed in a previous message:

To the Senate of the United States,--In the messages to both Houses of Congress at the commencement of the session, it was mentioned that the governments of the republics of Colombia, of Mexico, and of Central America had severally invited the government of the United States to be represented at the congress of American nations to be assembled at Panama to deliberate upon objects of peculiar concernment to this hemisphere, and that this invitation had been accepted.

Although this measure was deemed to be within the constitutional competency of the executive, I have not thought proper to take any step in it before ascertaining that my opinion of its expediency will concur with that of both branches of the legislature, first, by the decision of the Senate upon the nominations to be laid before them, and, secondly, by the sanction of both Houses to the appropriations, without which it cannot be carried into effect.

A report from the Secretary of State, and copies of the correspondence with the South American governments on this subject since the invitation given by them, are herewith transmitted to the Senate. They will disclose the objects of importance which are expected to form a subject of discussion at this meeting, in which interests of high importance to this Union are involved. It will be seen that the United States neither intend nor are expected to take part in any deliberations of a belligerent character; that the motive of their attendance is neither to contract alliances nor to engage in any undertaking or project importing hostility to any other nation.

But the Southern American nations, in the infancy of their independence, often find themselves in positions with reference to other countries with the principles applicable to which, derivable from the state of independence itself, they have not been familiarized by experience. The result of this has been that sometimes in their intercourse with the United States, they have manifested dispositions to reserve a right of granting special favors and privileges to the Spanish nation as the price of their recognition. At others they have actually established duties and impositions operating unfavorably to the United States, to the advantage of other European powers, and sometimes they have appeared to consider that they might interchange among themselves mutual concessions of exclusive favor, to which neither European powers nor the United Slates should be admitted. In most of [35] these cases their regulations unfavorable to us have yielded to friendly expostulation and remonstrance. But it is believed to be of infinite moment that the principles of a liberal commercial intercourse should be exhibited to them. and urged with disinterested and friendly persuasion upon them when all assembled for the avowed purpose of consulting together upon the establishment of such principles as may have an important bearing upon their future welfare.

The consentaneous adoption of principles of maritime neutrality, and favorable to the navigation of peace, and commerce in time of war, will also form a subject of consideration to this congress. The doctrine that free ships make free goods and the restrictions of reason upon the extent of blockades may e established by general agreement with far more ease, and perhaps with less danger, by the general engagement to adhere to then concerted at such a meeting, than by partial treaties or conventions with each of the nations separately. An agreement between all the parties represented at the meeting that each will guard by its own means against the establishment of any future European colony within its borders may be found advisable. This was more than two years since announced by my predecessor to the world as a principle resulting from the emancipation of both the American continents. It may be so developed to the new southern nations that they will all feel it as an essential appendage to their independence.

There is yet another subject upon which, without entering into any treaty, the moral influence of the United States may perhaps be exerted with beneficial consequences at such a meeting — the advancement of religious liberty. Some of the southern nations are even so far under the dominion of prejudice that they have incorporated with their political constitutions an exclusive church, without toleration of any other than the dominant sect. The abandonment of this last badge of religious bigotry and oppression may be pressed more effectually by the united exertions of those who concur in the principles of freedom of conscience upon those who are yet to he convinced of their justice and wisdom than by the solitary efforts of a minister to any one of the separate governments.

The indirect influence which the United States may exercise upon any projects or purposes originating in the war in which the southern republics are still engaged, which might seriously affect the interests of this Union, and the good offices by which the United States may ultimately contribute to bring that war to a speedier termination, though among the motives which have convinced me of the propriety of complying with this invitation, are so far contingent and eventual that it would be improper to dwell upon them more at large.

In fine, a decisive inducement with me for acceding to the measure is to show by this token of respect to the southern republics the interest that we take in their welfare and our disposition to comply with their wishes. Having been the first to recognize their independence, and sympathize with them so far as was compatible with our natural duties in all their struggles and sufferings to acquire it. we have laid the foundation of our future intercourse with them in the broadest principles of reciprocity and the most cordial feelings of fraternal friendship. To extend those principles to all our commercial relations with them and to hand down that friendship to future ages is congenial to the highest policy of the Union, as it will be to that of all those nations and their posterity. In the confidence that these sentiments will meet the approbation of the Senate, I nominate Richard C. Anderson, of Kentucky, and John Sergeant, of Pennsylvania, to be envoys extraordinary and ministers plenipotentiary to the assembly of American nations at Panama, and William B. Rochester, of New York, to be secretary to the mission. John Quincy Adams.

On March 15, 1826, he sent the following reply to a House resolution:

To the House of Representatives of the United States,--In compliance with the resolution of the House of the 5th ultimo. requesting me to cause to be laid before the House so much of the correspondence between the government of the United States and the new states of America, or their ministers, [36] respecting the proposed congress or meeting of diplomatic agents at Panama, and such information respecting the general character of that expected congress as may be in my possession and as may, in my opinion, be communicated without prejudice to the public interest, and also to inform the House, so far as in my opinion the public interest may allow, in regard to what objects the agents of the United States are expected to take part in the deliberations of that congress, I now transmit to the House a report from the Secretary of State, with the correspondence and information requested by the resolution.

With regard to the objects in which the agents of the United States are expected to take part in the deliberations of that congress, I deem it proper to premise that these objects did not form the only, nor even the principal, motive for my acceptance of the invitation. My first and greatest inducement was to meet in the spirit of kindness and friendship an overture made in that spirit by three sister republics of this hemisphere.

The great revolution in human affairs which has brought into existence, nearly at the same time, eight sovereign and independent nations in our own quarter of the globe has placed the United States in a situation not less novel and scarcely less interesting than that in which they had found themselves by their own transition from a cluster of colonies to a nation of sovereign States. The deliverance of the South American republics from the oppression under which they had been so long afflicted was hailed with great unanimity by the people of this Union as among the most auspicious events of the age. On the 4th of May, 1822, an act of Congress made an appropriation of $100,000 for such missions to the independent nations on the American continent as “the President of the United States might deem proper.” In exercising the authority recognized by this act my predecessor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, appointed successively ministers plenipotentiary to the republics of Colombia, Buenos Ayres, Chile, and Mexico. Unwilling to raise among the fraternity of freedom questions of precedency and etiquette, which even the European monarchs had of late found it necessary in a great measure to discard, he despatched these ministers to Colombia, Buenos Ayres, and Chile without exacting from those republics, as by the ancient principles of political primogeniture he might have done, that the compliment of a plenipotentiary mission should have been paid first by them to the United States. The instructions, prepared under his direction, to Mr. Anderson, the first of our ministers to the Southern continent, contain at much length the general principles upon which he thought it desirable that our relations, political and commercial, with these our new neighbors should be established for their benefit and ours and that of the future ages of our posterity. A copy of so much of these instructions as relates to these general subjects is among the papers now transmitted to the House. Similar instructions were furnished to the ministers appointed to Buenos Ayres, Chile, and Mexico, and the system of social intercourse which it was the purpose of those missions to establish from the first opening of our diplomatic relations with those rising nations is the most effective exposition of the principles upon which the invitation to the congress at Panama has been accepted by me, as well as of the objects of negotiation at that meeting, in which it was expected that our plenipotentiaries should take part.

The House will perceive that even at the date of these instructions the first treaties between some of the Southern republics had been concluded by which they had stipulated among themselves this diplomatic assembly at Panama. And it will be seen with what caution, so far as it might concern the policy of the United States, and at the same time with what frankness and good will towards those nations, he gave countenance to their design of inviting the United States to this high assembly for consultation upon America interests. It was not considered a conclusive reason for declining this invitation that the proposal for assembling such a congress had not first been made by ourselves. It had sprung from the urgent, immediate, and momentous common interests of the great communities struggling for independence, and, as it were, quickening into life. From them the [37] proposition to us appeared respectful and friendly; from us to them it could scarcely have been made without exposing ourselves to suspicions of purposes of ambition, if not of domination, more suited to rouse resistance and excite distrust than to conciliate favor and friendship. The first and paramount principle upon which it was deemed wise and just to lay the corner-stone of all our future relations with them was disinterestedness; the next was cordial good will to them; the third was a claim of fair and equal reciprocity. Under these impressions when the invitation was formally and earnestly given, had it even been doubtful whether any of the objects proposed for consideration and discussion at the congress were such as that immediate and important interests of the United States would be affected by the issue, I should, nevertheless, have determined, so far as it depended upon me, to have accepted the invitation and to have appointed ministers to attend the meeting. The proposal itself implied that the republics by whom it was made believed that important interests of ours or of theirs rendered our attendance there desirable. They had given us notice that in the novelty of their situation and in the spirit of deference to our experience they would be pleased to have the benefit of our friendly counsel. To meet the temper with which this proposal was made with a cold repulse was not thought congenial to that warm interest in their welfare with which the people and government of the Union had hitherto gone hand in hand through the whole progress of their revolution. To insult them by a refusal of their overture, and then invite them to a similar assembly to be called by ourselves, was an expedient which never presented itself to the mind. I would have sent ministers to the meeting had it been merely to give them such advice as they might have desired, even with reference to their own interests. not involving ours. I would have sent them had it been merely to explain and set forth to them our reasons for declining any proposal of specific measures to which they might desire our concurrence, but which we might deem incompatible with our interests or our duties. In the inter-course between nations temper is a missionary perhaps more powerful than talent. Nothing was ever lost by kind treatment. Nothing can be gained by sullen repulses and aspiring pretensions.

But objects of the highest importance, not only to the future welfare of the whole human race, but bearing directly upon the special interests of this Union, will engage the deliberations of the congress at Panama, whether we are represented there or not. Others, if we are represented, may be offered by our plenipotentiaries for consideration having in view both these great results — our own interests and the improvement of the condition of man upon earth. It may be that, in the lapse of many centuries, no other opportunity so favorable will be presented to the government of the United States to subserve the benevolent purposes of divine Providence; to dispense the promised blessings of the Redeemer of Mankind; to promote the prevalence in future ages of peace on earth and good — will to man, as will now be placed in their power by participating in the deliberations of this congress.

Among the topics enumerated in official papers published by the republic of Colombia, and adverted to in the correspondence now communicated to the House, as intended to be presented for discussion at Panama, there is scarcely one in which the Result of the meeting will not deeply affect the interests of the United States. Even those in which the belligerent states alone will take an active part will have a powerful effect upon the state of our relations with the American, and probably with the principal European, states. Were it merely that we might be correctly and speedily informed ot the proceedings of the congress, and the progress and issue of their negotiations, I should hold it advisable that we should have an accredited agency with them, placed in such confidential relations with the other members as would insure the authenticity and the safe and early transmission of its reports. Of the same enumerated topics are the preparation of a manifesto setting forth to the world the justice of their cause and the relations they desire to hold with other Christian powers, and to form a convention of navigation and commerce applicable [38] both to the confederated states and to their allies.

It will be within the recollection of the House that, immediately after the close of the war of our independence, a measure closely analogous to this congress of Panama was adopted by the Congress of our Confederation, and for purposes of precisely the same character. Three commissioners, with plenipotentiary powers, were appointed to negotiate treaties of amity, navigation, and commerce with all the principal powers of Europe. They met and resided, for that purpose, about one year at Paris, and the only result of their negotiations at that time was the first treaty between the United States and Prussia-memorable in the diplomatic annals of the world, and precious as a monument of the principles, in relation to commerce and maritime warfare, with which our country entered upon her career as a member of the great family of independent nations. This treaty, prepared in conformity with the instructions of the American plenipotentiaries, consecrated three fundamental principles of the foreign intercourse which the Congress of that period were desirous of establishing: first, equal reciprocity and the mutual stipulation of the privileges of the most favored nation in the commercial exchanges of peace; secondly. the abolition of private war upon the ocean; and, thirdly, restrictions favorable to neutral commerce upon belligerent practices with regard to contraband of war and blockades. A painful, it may be said a calamitous, experience of more than forty years has demonstrated the deep importance of these same principles to the peace and prosperity of this nation. and to the welfare of all maritime states, and has illustrated the profound wisdom with which they were assumed as cardinal points of the policy of the Union.

At that time in the infancy of their political existence, under the influence of those principles of liberty and of right so congenial to the cause in which they had just fought and triumphed, they were able but to obtain the sanction of one great and philosophical, though absolute, sovereign in Europe to their liberal and enlightened principles. They could obtain no more. Since then a political hurricane has gone over three-fourths of the civilized portions of the earth, the desolation of which it may with confidence be expected is passing away, leaving at least the American atmosphere purified and refreshed. And now at this propitious moment the new-born nations of this hemisphere, assembling by their representatives at the isthmus between its two continents to settle the principles of their future international intercourse with other nations and with us, ask in this great exigency for our advice upon those very fundamental maxims which we from our cradle at first proclaimed and partially succeeded to introduce into the code of national law.

Without recurring to that total prostration of all neutral and commercial rights which marked the progress of the late European wars. and which finally involved the United States in them, and adverting only to our political relations with these American nations, it is observable that while in all other respects those relations have been uniformly and without exception of the most friendly and mutually satisfactory character, the only causes of difference and dissension between us and them which ever have arisen originated in those never-failing fountains of discord and irritation — discriminations of commercial favor to other nations, licentious privateers, and paper blockades. I cannot without doing injustice to the republics of Buenos Ayres and Colombia forbear to acknowledge the candid and conciliatory spirit with which they have repeatedly yielded to our friendly representations and remonstrances on these subjects — in repealing discriminative laws which operated to our disadvantage and in revoking the commissions of their privateers, to which Colombia has added the magnanimity of making reparation for unlawful captures by some of her cruisers and of assenting in the midst of war to treaty stipulations favorable to neutral navigation. But the recurrence of these occasions of complaint has rendered the renewal of the discussion which resulted in the removal of them necessary, while in the mean time injuries are sustained by merchants and other individuals of the United States which cannot be repaired, and the remedy lingers [39] in overtaking the pernicious operation of the mischief. The settlement of general principles pervading with equal efficacy all the American states can alone put an end to these evils, and can alone be accomplished at the proposed assembly.

If it be true that the noblest treaty of peace ever mentioned in history is that by which the Carthagenians were bound to abolish the practice of sacrificing their own children because it was stipulated in favor of human nature, I cannot exaggerate to myself the unfading glory with which these United States will go forth in the memory of future ages if, by their friendly counsel, by their moral influence, by the power of argument and persuasion alone, they can prevail upon the American nations at Panama to stipulate by general agreement among themselves, and so far as any of them may be concerned, the perpetual abolition of private war upon the ocean. And if we cannot yet flatter ourselves that this may be accomplished, as advances towards it the establishment of the principle that the friendly flag shall cover the cargo, the curtailment of contraband of war, and the proscription of fictitious paper blockades — engagements which we may reasonably hope will not prove impracticable — will, if successfully inculcated, redound proportionally to our honor and drain the fountain of many a future sanguinary war.

The late President of the United States, in his message to Congress of Dec. 2, 1823, while announcing the negotiation then pending with Russia, relating to the northwest coast of this continent, observed that the occasion of the discussions to which that incident had given rise had been taken for asserting as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States were involved that the American continents. by the free and independent condition which they had assumed and maintained, were thenceforward not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European power. The principle had first been assumed in that negotiation with Russia. It rested upon a course of reasoning equally simple and conclusive. With the exception of the existing European colonies, which it was in no wise intended to disturb, the two continents consisted of several sovereign and independent nations, whose territories covered their whole surface. By this their independent condition the United States enjoyed the right of commercial intercourse with every part of their possessions. To attempt the establishment of a colony in those possessions would be to usurp to the exclusion of others a commercial intercourse which was the common possession of all. It could not be done without encroaching upon existing rights of the United States. The government of Russia has never disputed these positions nor manifested the slightest dissatisfaction at their having been taken. Most of the new American republics have declared their entire assent to them, and they now propose, among the subjects of consultation at Panama, to take into consideration the means of making effectual the assertion of that principle as well as the means of resisting interference from abroad with the domestic concerns of the American governments.

In alluding to these means it would obviously be premature at this time to anticipate that which is offered merely as matter for consultation, or to pronounce upon those measures which have been or may be suggested. The purpose of this government is to concur in none which would import hostility to Europe or justly excite resentment in any of her states. Should it be deemed advisable to contract any conventional engagement on this topic, our views would extend no further than to a mutual pledge of the parties to the compact to maintain the principle in application to its own territory, and to permit no colonial lodgments or establishment of European jurisdiction upon its own soil; and with respect to the obtrusive interference from abroad — if its future character may be inferred from that which has been and perhaps still is exercised in more than one of the new states — a joint declaration of its character and exposure of it to the world may be probably all that the occasion would require. Whether the United States should or should not be parties to such a declaration may justly form a part of the deliberation. That there is an evil to be remedied needs little insight into the secret history of late years to know, and that this remedy may best be concerted at the Panama meeting [40] deserves at least the experiment of consideration. A concert of measures having reference to the more effectual abolition of the African slave-trade and the consideration of the light in which the political condition of the island of Hayti be regarded are also among the subjects mentioned by the minister from the republic of Colombia as believed to be suitable for deliberation at the congress. The failure of the negotiations with that republic undertaken during the late administration for the suppression of that trade, in compliance with a resolution of the House of Representatives, indicates the expediency of listening with respectful attention to propositions which may contribute to the accomplishment of the great end which was the purpose of that resolution, while the result of those negotiations will serve as admonition to abstain from pledging this government to any arrangement which might be expected to fail of obtaining the advice and consent of the Senate by a constitutional majority to its ratification.

Whether the political condition of the island of Hayti shall be brought at all into discussion at the meeting may be a question for preliminary advisement. There are in the political constitution of government of that people circumstances which have hitherto forbidden the acknowledgment of them by the government of the United States as sovereign and independent. Additional reasons for withholding that acknowledgment have recently been seen in their acceptance of a nominal sovereignty by the grant of a foreign prince under conditions equivalent to the concession by them of exclusive commercial advantages to one nation, adapted altogether to the state of colonial vassalage and retaining little of independence but the name. Our plenipotentiaries will be instructed to present these views to the assembly at Panama, and, should they not he concurred in, to decline acceding to any arrangement which may be proposed upon different principles.

The condition of the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico is of deeper import and more immediate bearing upon the present interests and future prospects of our Union. The correspondence herewith transmitted will show how earnestly it has engaged the attention of this government. The invasion of both those islands by the united forces of Mexico and Colombia is avowedly among the objects to be matured by the belligerent states at Panama. The convulsions to which, from the peculiar composition of their population, they would be liable in the event of such an invasion, and the danger therefrom resulting of their falling ultimately into the hands of some European power other than Spain, will not admit of our looking at the consequences to which the congress at Panama may lead with indifference. It is unnecessary to enlarge upon this topic or to say more than that all our efforts in reference to this interest will be to preserve the existing state of things, the tranquillity of the islands, and the peace and security of their inhabitants.

And, lastly, the congress of Panama is believed to present a fair occasion for urging upon all the new nations of the South the just and liberal principles of religious liberty; not by any interference whatever in their internal concerns, but by claiming for our citizens whose occupations or interests may call them to occasional residence in their territories the inestimable privilege of worshipping their Creator according to the dictates of their own consciences. This privilege, sanctioned by the customary law of nations and secured by treaty stipulations in numerous national compacts — secured even to our own citizens in the treaties with Colombia and with the Federation of Central America--is yet to be obtained in the other South American states and Mexico. Existing prejudices are still struggling against it, which may, perhaps, be more successfully combated at this general meeting than at the separate seats of government of each republic.

I can scarcely deem it otherwise than superfluous to observe that the assembly will be in its nature diplomatic and not legislative; that nothing can be transacted there obligatory upon any one of the states to be represented at the meeting, unless with the express concurrence of its own representatives, nor even then, but subject to the ratification of its constitutional authority at home. The faith of the United States to foreign powers cannot otherwise be pledged. I shall, indeed, [41] in the first instance, consider the assembly as merely consultative; and although the plenipotentiaries of the United States will be empowered to receive and refer to the consideration of their government any proposition from the other parties to the meeting, they will be authorized to conclude nothing unless subject to the definitive sanction of this government in all its constitutional forms. It has therefore seemed to me unnecessary to insist that every object to be discussed at the meeting should be specified with the precision of a judicial sentence, or enumerated with the exactness of a mathematical demonstration. The purpose of the meeting itself is to deliberate upon the great and common interests of several new and neighboring nations. If the measure is new and without precedent, so is the situation of the parties to it. That the purposes of the meeting are somewhat indefinite, far from being an objection to it, is among the cogent reasons for its adoption. It is not the establishment of principles of intercourse with one, but with seven or eight nations at once. That before they have had the means of exchanging ideas and communicating with one another in common upon these topics they should have definitely settled and arranged them in concert is to require that the effect should precede the cause; it is to exact as a preliminary to the meeting that for the accomplishment of which the meeting itself is designed.

Among the inquiries which were thought entitled to consideration before the determination was taken to accept the invitation was that whether the measure might not have a tendency to change the policy. hitherto invariably pursued by the United States, of avoiding all entangling alliances and all unnecessary foreign connections.

Mindful of the advice given by the Father of our Country in his Farewell Address. that the great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible, and, faithfully adhering to the spirit of that admonition. I cannot overlook the reflection that the counsel of Washington in that instance, like all the counsels of wisdom, was founded upon the circumstances in which our country and the world around us were situated at the time when it was given; that the reasons assigned by him for his advice were that Europe had a set of primary interests which to us had none or a very remote relation; that hence she must be engaged in frequent controversies, the causes of which were essentially foreign to our concern, that our detached and distant situation invited and enabled us to pursue a different course; that by our union and rapid growth, with an efficient government, the period was not far distant when we might defy material injury from external annoyance, when we might take such an attitude as would cause our neutrality to be respected, and, with reference to belligerent nations, might choose peace or war, as our interests, guided by justice, should counsel.

Compare our situation and the circumstances of that time with those of the present day, and what, from the very words of Washington then, would be his counsels to his countrymen now? Europe has still her set of primary interests with which we have little or a remote relation. Our distant and detached situation with reference to Europe remains the same. But we were then the only independent nation of this hemisphere, and we were surrounded by European colonies, with the greater part of which we had no more intercourse than with the inhabitants of another planet. Those colonies have now been transformed into eight independent nations, extending to our very borders, seven of them republics like ourselves, with whom we have an immensely growing commercial, and must have and have already important political, connections, with reference to whom our situation is neither distant nor detached; whose political principles and systems of government, congenial with our own, must and will have an action and counteraction upon us and ours to which we cannot be indifferent if we would.

The rapidity of our growth, and the consequent increase of our strength, has more than realized the anticipations of this admirable political legacy. Thirty years have nearly elapsed since it was written, and in the interval our population, our wealth, our territorial extension, our [42] power — physical and moral — have nearly trebled. Reasoning upon this state of things from the sound and judicious principles of Washington, must we not say that the period which he predicted as then not far off has arrived, that America has a set of primary interests which have none or a remote relation to Europe; that the interference of Europe, therefore, in those concerns should be spontaneously withheld by her upon the same principles that we have never interfered with hers, and that if she should interfere, as she may, by measures which may have a great and dangerous recoil upon ourselves, we might be called in defence of our own altars and firesides to take an attitude which would cause our neutrality to be respected and choose peace or war, as our interest, guided by justice, should counsel.

The acceptance of this invitation, therefore, far from conflicting with the counsel or the policy of Washington, is directly deducible from and conformable to it. Nor is it less conformable to the views of my immediate predecessors as declared in his annual message to Congress of Dec. 2, 1823, to which I have already adverted, and to an important passage of which I invite the attention of the House:

The citizens of the United States,

said he, “cherish sentiments the most friendly in favor of the liberty and happiness of their fellow-men on that [the European] side of the Atlantic. In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy so to do. It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparation for our defence. With the movements in this hemisphere we are of necessity more immediately connected, and by causes which must be obvious to all enlightened and impartial observers. The political system of the allied powers is essentially different in this respect from that of America. This difference proceeds from that which exists in their respective governments. And to the defence of our own, which has been achieved by the loss of so much blood and treasure, and matured by the wisdom of their most enlightened citizens, and under which we have enjoyed unexampled felicity, this whole nation is devoted. We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations substituting between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interferred and shall not interfere; but with the governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have on great consideration and on just principles acknowledged, we could not view any inter-position for the purposes of oppressing them or controlling in any other manner their destiny by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly dispositon towards the United States. In the war between those new governments and Spain we declared our neutrality at the time of their recognition, and to this we have adhered, and shall continue to adhere, provided no change shall occur which in the judgment of the competent authorities of this government shall make a corresponding change on the part of the United States indispensable to their security.”

To the question which may be asked, whether this meeting and the principles which may be adjusted and settled by it as rules of intercourse between the American nations may not give umbrage to the holy league of European powers or offence to Spain, it is deemed a sufficient answer that our attendance at Panama can give no just cause of umbrage or offence to either, and that the United States will stipulate nothing there which can give such cause. Here the right of inquiry into our purposes and measures must stop. The holy league of Europe itself was formed without inquiring of the United States whether it would or would not give umbrage to them. The fear of giving umbrage to the holy league of Europe was urged as a motive for denying to the American nations the acknowledgment of their independence. That it would be viewed by Spain as hostility to her was not only urged, but directly declared by herself. The Congress and administration of that day consulted their rights and duties, and not [43] their fears. Fully determined to give no needless displeasure to any foreign power, the United States can estimate the probability of their giving it only by the right which any foreign state could have to take it from their measures. Neither the representation of the United States at Panama nor any measure to which their assent may be yielded there will give to the holy league or any of its members, nor to Spain, the right to take offence; for the rest, the United States must still, as heretofore, take counsel from their duties rather than their fears.

Such are the objects in which it is expected that the plenipotentiaries of the United States, when commissioned to attend the meeting at the Isthmus, will take part, and such are the motives and purposes with which the invitation of the republics was accepted. It was, however, as the House will perceive from the correspondence, accepted only upon condition that the nomination of commissioners for the mission should receive the advice and consent of the Senate.

The concurrence of the House to the measure, by the appropriations necessary for carrying it into effect, is alike subject to its free determination and indispensable to the fulfilment of the intention.

That the congress at Panama will accomplish all, or even any, of the transcendent benefits to the human race which warmed the conception of its first proposer, it were, perhaps, indulging too sanguine a forecast of events to promise. It is in its nature a measure speculative and experimental. The blessing of Heaven may turn it to the account of human improvement; accidents unforeseen and mischances not to be anticipated may baffle all its high purposes and disappoint its fairest expectations. But the design is great, is benevolent, is humane.

It looks to the melioration of the condition of man. It is congenial with that spirit which prompted the declaration of our independence, which inspired the preamble of our first treaty with France, which dictated our first treaty with Prussia, and the instructions under which it was negotiated, which filled the hearts and fired the souls of the immortal founders of our Revolution.

With this unrestricted exposition of the motives by which I have been governed in this transaction, as well as of the objects to be discussed and of the ends, if possible, to be attained by our representation at the proposed congress, I submit the propriety of an appropriation to the candid consideration and enlightened patriotism of the legislature. John Quincy Adams.

Jubilee of the Constitution.

The following is the address of Mr. Adams before the New York Historical Society, April 30, 1830:

Would it be an unlicensed trespass of the imagination to conceive that, on the night preceding the day of which you new commemorate the fiftieth anniversary — on the night preceding the 30th of April, 1789, when from the balcony of your city hall the Chancellor of the State of New York administered to (George Washington the solemn oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States, and to the best of his ability to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States--that in the visions of the night the guardian angel of the Father of our Country had appeared before him, in the venerated form of his mother, and, to cheer and encourage him in the performance of the momentous and solemn duties that he was about to assume, had delivered to him a suit of celestial armor — a helmet, consisting of the principles of piety, of justice, of honor, of benevolence, with which from his earliest infancy he had hitherto walked through life, in the presence of all his brethren — a spear, studded with the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence--a sword, the same with which he had led the armies of his country through the war of freedom, to the summit of the triumphal arch of independence — a corslet and cuishes of long experience and habitual intercourse in peace and war with the world of mankind, his contemporaries of the human race, in all their stages of civilization — and, last of all, the Constitution of the United States, a shield, embossed by heavenly hands with the future history of his country.

Yes, gentlemen! on that shield, the Constitution of the United States, was sculptured (by forms unseen, and in characters [44] then invisible to mortal eye), the predestined and prophetic history of the one confederated people of the North American Union.

They have been the settlers of thirteen separate and distinct English colonies, along the margin of the shore of the North American continent; contiguously situated, but chartered by adventurers of characters variously diversified, including sectarians, religious and political, of all the classes which for the two preceding centuries had agitated and divided the people of the British islands, and with then were intermingled the descendants of Hollanders, Swedes, Germans, and French fugitives from the persecution of the revoker of the Edict of Nantes.

In the bosoms of this people, thus heterogeneously composed, there was burning, kindled at different furnaces, but all furnaces of affliction, one clear, steady flame of liberty. Bold and darling enterprise, stubborn endurance of privation, unflinching intrepidity in facing danger, and inflexible adherence to conscientious principle had steeled to energetic and unyielding hardihood the characters of the primitive settlers of all these colonies. Since that time two or three generations of men had passed away, but they have increased and multiplied with unexampled rapidity; and the land itself had been the recent theatre of a ferocious and bloody seven years war between the two most powerful and most civilized nations of Europe, contending for the possession of this continent.

Of that strife the victorious combatant had been Britain. She had conquered the provinces of France. She had expelled her rival totally from the continent, over which, bounding herself by the Mississippi, she was thenceforth to hold divided empire only with Spain. She had acquired undisputed control over the Indian tribes, still tenanting the forests unexplored by the European man. She had established an uncontested monopoly of the commerce of all her colonies. But forgetting all the warnings of preceding ages — forgetting the lessons written in the blood of her own children, through centuries of departed time, she undertook to tax the people of the colonies without their consent.

John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams

Resistance, instantaneous, unconcerted, sympathetic, inflexible resistance, like an electric shock startled and roused the people of all the English colonies on this continent.

This was the first signal for the North American Union. The struggle was for chartered rights, for English liberties, for the cause of Algernon Sidney and John Hampden, for trial by jury, the habeas corpus and Magna Charta.

But the English lawyers had decided that Parliament was omnipotent; and Parliament, in their omnipotence, instead of trial by jury and the habeas corpus, enacted admiralty courts in England to try Americans for offences charged against them as committed in America; instead of the privileges of Magna Charta, nullified the charter itself of Massachusetts Bay, shut up the port of Boston, sent armies and navies to keep the peace and teach the colonies that John Hampden was a rebel and Algernon Sidney a traitor.

English liberties had failed them. From the omnipotence of Parliament the colonists appealed to the rights of man and the omnipotence of the god of battles. Union! Union! was the instinctive and simultaneous cry throughout the land. Their Congress, assembled at Philadelphia, once — twice — had petitioned the King, had demonstrated to Parliament, had addressed the people of Britain for the rights of Englishmen — in vain. Fleets and armies, the blood of Lexington, and the fires of Charlestown and Falmouth, had been the answer to petition, remonstrance, and address.

Independence was declared. The colonies were transformed into States. Their inhabitants were proclaimed to be one people, renouncing all allegiance to the British crown, all co-patriotism with the British nation, all claims to chartered rights as Englishmen. Thenceforth their charter was the Declaration of Independence. Their rights, the natural rights of mankind. Their government, such as should be instituted by themselves, under the solemn mutual pledges of perpetual union, founded on the self-evident truths proclaimed in the Declaration.

The Declaration of Independence was issued, in the excruciating agonies of a [45] civil war, and by that war independence was to be maintained. Six long years it raged with unabated fury, and the Union was yet no more than a mutual pledge of faith and a mutual participation of common sufferings and common dangers.

The omnipotence of the British Parliament was vanquished. The independence of the United States of America was not granted, but recognized. The nation had “assumed among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitled it” --but the one, united people had yet no government.

In the enthusiasm of their first spontaneous, unstipulated, unpremeditated union, they have flattered themselves that no general government would be required. As separate States they were all agreed that they should constitute and govern themselves. The revolution under which they were gasping for life, the war which was carrying desolation into all their dwellings, and mourning into every family, had been kindled by the abuse of power — the power of government. An invincible repugnance to the delegation of power had thus been generated by the very course of events which had rendered it necessary; and the more indispensable it became, the more awakened was the jealousy and the more intense was the distrust by which it was to be circumscribed.

They relaxed their union into a league of friendship between sovereign and independent States. They constituted a Congress, with powers co-extensive with the nation, but so hedged and hemmed in with restrictions that the limitation seemed to be the general rule and the grant the occasional exception. The Articles of Confederation, subjected to philosophical analysis, seem to be little more than an enumeration of the functions of a national government which the Congress constituted by the instrument was not authorized to perform. There was avowedly no executive power.

The nation fell into an atrophy. The Union languished to the point of death. A torpid numbness seized upon all its faculties. A chilling, cold indifference crept from its extremities to the centre. The system was about to dissolve in its own imbecility-impotence in negotiation abroad, domestic insurrection at home, were on the point of bearing to a dishonorable grave the proclamation of a government founded on the rights of man — when a convention of delegates from eleven of the thirteen States, with George Washington at their head, sent forth to the people an act to be made their own, speaking in their name and in the first person, thus: “We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice. insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

This act was the complement to the Declaration of Independence, founded upon the same principles, carrying them out into practical execution, and forming with it one entire system of national government. The Declaration was a manifesto to the world of mankind, to justify the one, confederated people for the violent and voluntary severance of the ties of their allegiance, for the renunciation of their country, and for assuming a station themselves among the potentates of the world — a self-constituted sovereign, a self-constituted country.

In the history of the human race this had never been done before. Monarchs had been dethroned for tyranny, kingdoms converted into republics, and revolted provinces had assumed the attributes of sovereign power. In the history of England itself, within one century and a half before the day of the Declaration of Independence, one lawful king had been brought to the block, and another expelled, with all his posterity, from his kingdom, and a collateral dynasty had ascended his throne. But the former of these revolutions had, by the deliberate and final sentence of the nation itself, been pronounced a rebellion, and the rightful heir of the executed king had been restored to the crown. In the latter, at the first onset, the royal recreant had fled — he was held to have abdicated the crown, and it was place upon the heads of his daughter and of her husband, the prime leader of the conspiracy against him. In these events there had been much controversy [46] upon the platform of English liberties — upon the customs of the ancient Britons, the laws of Alfred, the witenagemote of the Anglo-Saxons, and the Great Charter of Runnymede with all its numberless confirmations. But the actors of those times had never ascended to the first foundation of civil society among men, nor had any revolutionary system of government been rested upon them.

The motive for the Declaration of Independence was on its face avowed to be “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind” ; its purpose, to declare the causes which impelled the people of the English colonies on the continent of North America to separate themselves from the political community of the British nation. They declare only the causes of their separation, but they announce at the same time their assumption of the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them among the powers of the earth.

Thus their first movement is to recognize and appeal to the laws of nature and to nature's God, for their right to assume the attributes of sovereign power as an independent nation.

The causes of their necessary separation, for they begin and end by declaring it necessary, alleged in the Declaration, are all founded on the same laws of nature and of nature's God; and hence, as preliminary to the enumeration of the causes of separation, they set forth as self-evident truths the rights of individual man, by the laws of nature and of nature's God, to life, to liberty to the pursuit of happiness; that all men are created equal; that to secure the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. All this is by the laws of nature and of nature's God, and of course presupposes the existence of a God. the moral ruler of the universe, and a rule of right and wrong, of just and unjust, binding upon man, preceding all institutions of human society and of government. It avers, also, that governments are instituted to secure these rights of nature and of nature's God, and that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of those ends it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government — to throw off a government degenerating into despotism, and to provide new guards for their future security. They proceed then to say that such was, then the situation of the colonies, and such the necessity which constrained them to alter their former systems of government.

Then follows the enumeration of the acts of tyranny by which the King, Parliament, and people of Great Britain had perverted the powers to the destruction of the ends of government over the colonies, and the consequent necessity constraining the colonies to the separation.

In conclusion, the Representatives of the United States of America, in general Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of their intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown; and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do. The appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world, and the rule of right and wrong as paramount events to the power of independent States, are here again repeated in the very act of constituting a new sovereign community. It is not immaterial to remark that the signers of the Declaration, though qualifying themselves as the Representatives of the United States of America. in general Congress assembled, yet issue the Declaration in the name and by the authority of the good people of the colonies. and that they declare, not each of the separate colonies, but the United Colonies. free and independent States. The whole people declared the colonies in their united condition, of right, free and independent States.

The dissolution of allegiance to the British crown, the severance of the colonies from the British empire, and their [47] actual existence as independent States, thus declared of right, were definitely established in fact, by war and peace. The independence of each separate State had never been declared of right. It never existed in fact. Upon the principles of the Declaration of Independence, the dissolution of the ties of allegiance, the assumption of sovereign power, and the institution of civil government are all acts of transcendent authority, which the people alone are competent to perform and, accordingly, it is in the name and by the authority of the people that two of these acts — the dissolution of allegiance, with the severance from the British empire, and the declaration of the United Colonies, as free and independent States--were performed by that instrument.

But there still remained the last and crowning act, which the people of the Union alone were competent to perform — the institution of civil government for that compound nation, the United States of America.

At this day it cannot but strike us as extraordinary that it does not appear to have occurred to any one member of that assembly, which had laid down in terms so clear, so explicit, so unequivocal, the foundation of all just government, in the imprescriptible rights of man and the transcendent sovereignty of the people, and who in those principles had set forth their only personal vindication from the charges of rebellion against their King and of treason to their country, that their last crowning act was still to be performed upon the same principles — that is, the institution, by the people of the United States, of a civil government to guard and protect and defend them all. On the contrary, that same assembly which issued the Declaration of Independence, instead of continuing, to act in the name and by the authority of the good people of the United States, had, immediately after the appointment of the committee to prepare the Declaration, appointed another committee, of one member from each colony. to prepare and digest the form of confederation to be entered into between the colonies.

That committee reported on the 12th of July, eight days after the Declaration of Independence had been issued, a draft of Articles of Confederation between the colonies. This draft was prepared by John Dickinson, then a delegate from Pennsylvania, who voted against the Declaration of Independence, and never signed it, having been superseded by a new election of delegates from the State eight days after this draught was reported.

There was thus no congeniality of principle between the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation. The foundation of the former were a superintending Providence, the rights of man and the constituent revolutionary power of the people; that of the latter was the sovereignty of organized power and the independence of the separate or dis-united States. The fabric of the Declaration and that of the Confederation were each consistent with its own foundation, but they could not form one consistent symmetrical edifice. They were the productions of different minds and of adverse passions--one, ascending for the foundation of human government to the laws of nature and of God. written upon the heart of man: the other, resting upon the basis of human institutions and prescriptive law and colonial charter. The corner-stone of the one was right, that of the other was power.

The work of the founders of our independence was thus but half done. Absorbed in that more than herculean task of maintaining that independence and its principles by one of the most cruel wars that ever glutted the furies with human woe, they marched undaunted and steadfast through that fiery ordeal, and, consistent in their principles to the end. concluded, as an acknowledged sovereignty of the United States, proclaimed by their people in 1776, a peace with that same monarch whose sovereignty over them they had abjured in obedience to the laws of nature and of nature's God.

But for these United States they had formed no Constitution. Instead of resorting to the source of all constituted power, they had wasted their time, their talents, and their persevering, untiring toils in erecting and roofing and buttressing a frail and temporary shed to shelter the nation from the storm, or rather a mere baseless scaffolding on which to [48] stand when they should raise the marble palace of the people, to stand the test of time.

Five years were consumed by Congress and the State legislatures in debating and altering and adjusting these Articles of Confederation, the first of which was:

Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.

Observe the departure from the language, and the consequent contrast of principles, with those of the Declaration of Independence.

“Each State retains its sovereignty,” etc. Where did each State get the sovereignty which it retains? In the Declaration of Independence the delegates of the colonies in Congress assembled, in the name and by the authority of the good people of the colonies, declare, not each colony, but the United Colonies, in fact, and of right, not sovereign, but free and independent States. And why did they make this declaration in the name and by the authority of the one people of all the colonies? Because by the principles before laid down in the Declaration, the people, and the people alone, as the rightful source of all legitimate government, were competent to dissolve the bands of subjection of all the colonies to the nation of Great Britain, and to constitute them free and independent States. Now the people of the colonies, speaking by their delegates in Congress, had not declared each colony a sovereign, free, and independent State, nor had the people of each colony so declared the colony itself, nor could they so declare it, because each was already bound in union with all the rest — a union formed de facto, by the spontaneous revolutionary movement of the whole people, and organized by the meeting of the first Congress, in 1774, a year and ten months before the Declaration of Independence.

Where, then, did each State get the sovereignty, freedom. and independence which the Articles of Confederation declare it retains? Not from the whole people of the whole Union; not from the Declaration of Independence--not from the people of the State itself. It was assumed by agreement between the legislatures of the several States and their delegates in Congress, without authority from or consultation of the people at all.

In the Declaration of Independence the enacting and constituent party dispensing and delegating sovereign power is the whole people of the United Colonies. The recipient party, invested with power, is the United Colonies, declared United States.

In the Articles of Confederation this order of agency is averted. Each State is the constituent and enacting party, and the United States in Congress assembled the recipient of delegated power, and that power delegated with such a penurious and carking hand that it had more the aspect of a revocation of the Declaration of Independence than an instrument to carry it into effect.

None of these indispensably necessary powers were ever conferred by the State legislatures upon the Congress of the confederation; and well was it that they never were. The system itself was radically defective. Its incurable disease was an apostasy from the principles of the Declaration of Independence--a substitution of separate State sovereignties, in the place of the constituent sovereignty of the people as the basis of the confederate Union.

In the Congress of the confederation the master minds of James Madison and Alexander Hamilton were constantly engaged through the closing years of the Revolutionary War and those of peace which immediately succeeded. That of John Jay was associated with them shortly after the peace, in the capacity of Secretary to the Congress for Foreign Affairs. The incompetency of the Articles of Confederation for the management of the affairs of the Union at home and abroad was demonstrated to them by the painful and mortifying experience of every day. Washington, though in retirement, was brooding over the cruel injustice suffered by his associates in arms, the warriors of the Revolution; over the prostration of the public credit and the faith of the nation in the neglect to provide for the payment even of the interest upon the public debt; over the disappointed hopes of the friends of freedom; in the language of the address [49] from Congress to the States of the 18th of April, 1783, “The pride and boast of America, that the rights for which she contended were the rights of human nature.”

At his residence in Mount Vernon, in March, 1785, the first idea was started of a revisal of the Articles of Confederation by an organization of means differing from that of a compact between the State legislatures and their own delegates in Congress. A convention of delegates from the State legislatures, independent of the Congress itself, was the expedient which presented itself for effecting the purpose, and an augmentation of the powers of Congress for the regulation of commerce as the object for which this assembly was to be convened. In January, 1786, the proposal was made and adopted in the legislature of Virginia and communicated to the other State legislatures.

The convention was held at Annapolis in September of that year. It was attended by delegates from only five of the central States, who, on comparing their restricted powers with the glaring and universally acknowledged defects of the con federation, reported only a recommendation for the assemblage of another convention of delegates to meet at Philadelphia in May, 1787, from all the States and with enlarged powers.

The Constitution of the United States was the work of this convention. But in its construction the convention immediately perceived that they must retrace their steps, and fall back from a league of friendship between sovereign States to the constituent sovereignty of the people; from power to right — from the irresponsible despotism of State sovereignty to the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence. In that instrument the right to institute and to alter governments among men was ascribed exclusively to the people; the ends of government were declared to be to secure the natural rights of man; and that when the government degenerates from the promotion to the destruction of that end, the right and the duty accrued to the people to dissolve this degenerate government and to institute another. The signers of the Declaration further averred that the one people of the United Colonies were then precisely in that situation, with a government degenerated into tyranny, and called upon by the laws of nature and of nature's God to dissolve that government and institute another. Then, in the name and by the authority of the good people of the colonies, they pronounced the dissolution of their allegiance to the King and their eternal separation from the nation of Great Britain, and declared the United Colonies independent States. And here, as the representatives of the one people, they had stopped. They did not require the confirmation of this act, for the power to make the declaration had already been conferred upon them by the people; delegating the power, indeed, separately in the separate colonies, not by colonial authority, but by the spontaneous revolutionary movement of the people in them all.

From the day of that declaration the constituent power of the people had never been called into action. A confederacy had been substituted in the place of a government, and State sovereignty had usurped the constituent sovereignty of the people.

The convention assembled at Philadelphia had themselves no direct authority from the people. Their authority was all derived from the State legislatures. But they had the Articles of Confederation before them, and they saw and felt the wretched condition into which they had brought the whole people, and that the Union itself was in the agonies of death. They soon perceived that the indispensably needed powers were such as no State government, no combination of them, was by the principles of the Declaration of Independence competent to bestow. They could emanate only from the people. A highly respectable portion of the assembly, still clinging to the confederacy of States, proposed as a substitute for the Constitution a mere revival of the Articles of Confederation, with a grant of additional powers to the Congress. Their plan was respectfully and thoroughly discussed, but the want of a government and of the sanction of the people to the delegation of powers happily prevailed. A Constitution for the people, with the distribution of legislative, executive, and judicial powers, was prepared. It announced itself [50] as the work of the people themselves; and as this was unquestionably a power assumed by the convention, not delegated to them by the people, they religiously confined it to a simple power to propose, and carefully provided that it should be no more than a proposal until sanctioned by the confederation Congress, by the State legislatures, and by the people of the several States, in conventions specially assembled, by authority of their legislatures, for the single purpose of examining and passing upon it.

And thus was consummated the work commenced by the Declaration of Independence, a work in which the people of the North American Union, acting under the deepest sense of responsibility to the Supreme Ruler of the universe, had achieved the most transcendent act of power that social man in his mortal condition can perform, even that of dissolving the ties of allegiance by which he is bound to his country, of renouncing that country itself, of demolishing its government, of instituting another government, and of making for himself another country in its stead.

And on that day, of which you now commemorate the fiftieth anniversary — on that 30th day of April, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine--was this mighty revolution, not only in the affairs of our own country, but in the principles of government over civilized men, accomplished.

The Revolution itself was a work of thirteen years, and had never been completed until that day. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are parts of one consistent whole, founded upon one and the same theory of government, then new, not as a theory, for it had been working itself into the mind of man for many ages, and been especially expounded in the writings of Locke, but had never before been adopted by a great nation in practice.

There are yet, even at this day. many speculative objections to this theory. Even in our own country there are still philosophers who deny the principles asserted in the Declaration as self-evident truths, who deny the natural equality and inalienable rights of man, who deny that the people are the only legitimate source of power, who deny that all just powers of government are derived from the consent of the governed. Neither your time nor, perhaps, the cheerful nature of this occasion permit me here to enter upon the examination of this anti-revolutionary theory, which arrays State sovereignty against the constituent sovereignty of the people, and distorts the Constitution of the United States into a league of friendship between confederate corporations. I speak to matters of fact. There is the Declaration of Independence, and there is the Constitution of the United States--let them speak for themselves. The grossly immoral and dishonest doctrine of despotic State sovereignty, the exclusive judge of its own obligations, and responsible to no power on earth or in heaven for the violation of them, is not there. The Declaration says, “It is not in me.” The Constitution says, “It is not in me.”

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