previous next

[85] questions by the Federal Court in cases involving the validity of state legislation. Taylor in a number of very able books and pamphlets discussed the same subject; but he treated also the nature of the Union in a manner so critical and acute that, more nearly than any one else, he foreshadowed Calhoun and suggested the clear undimmed features of state sovereignty. Naturally we cannot omit from this list of Southern advocates Robert Y. Hayne (1791-1839), who was Webster's opponent in the ‘great debate’ of 1830; for he made a deep impression and presented Calhoun's theories with eloquence and vigour.

Among the men of Congress who indulged in far-flung speech and whom we shall have to class as orators, John Randolph (1773-1833) of Roanoke claims our first attention. Totally without the qualities for party leadership, unable to retain the devotion or following of friends, unable to handle a big constitutional question with confident learning and logic, unable to develop theories and to win people by the force of his argument or the steady adherence to a cause and a principle, he nevertheless played a conspicuous role during the first quarter of the nineteenth century, and, if we judge now only by the records of his speeches, he was gifted with a power of expression, a cutting brilliant invective and devilish cleverness in criticism and attack, such as few speakers have ever possessed. He was essentially a busy fault-finder, an active, alert, denunciatory enemy, at his best—or perhaps we should say, his worst—when dealing out taunts and pouring out the vial of his wrath on the less gifted but more wise. It should also be said of him that by his vehement defence of the slavery interest, though he professed opposition to slavery in itself, and by his attack on the growing power of the Federal government, he prepared the way for the later arguments and positions of Calhoun, the real leader of the South. One passage will illustrate almost as well as many the character of his declamation:

‘We are the eel,’ he said of the South, ‘that is being flayed, while the cookmaid pats us on the head and cries, with the clown in King Lear, “Down, wantons, down! . . .” If, under a power to regulate trade, you prevent exportation; if, with the most approved spring lancets, you draw the last drop of blood from our veins; if, secundum artem, you draw the last shilling from our pockets, what ’

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Roanoke (United States) (1)
Calhoun, Ky. (Kentucky, United States) (1)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
John Calhoun (2)
Noah Webster (1)
John Taylor (1)
John Randolph (1)
Robert Y. Hayne (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1839 AD (1)
1833 AD (1)
1830 AD (1)
1791 AD (1)
1773 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: