General Smith’s Views of the Powers and Policy of the Government of the United States, circa 26 January–7 February 1844

  • Source Note
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an old saying and a true one, “if you wish to be respected, respect yourselves.”
I will adopt, in part, the language of Mr. [James] Madison’s inaugural address, “To cherish peace and friendly intercourse with all nations, having correspondent dispositions; to maintain sincere neutrality towards belligerent nations; to prefer in all cases amicable discussion and reasonable accommodation of differences to a decision of them by an appeal to arms; to exclude foreign intrigues and foreign partialities, so degrading to all countries, and so baneful to free ones; to foster a spirit of independence too just to invade the rights of others, too proud to surrender our own, too liberal to indulge unworthy prejudicies ourselves, and too elevated not to look down upon them in others; to hold the of the States as the bases of their peace and happiness; to support the constitution, which is the cement of the , as well as in its limitatons as in its authorities; to respect the rights and authorities reserved to the States and to the people, as equally incorporated with, and essential to the success, of the general system; to avoid the slightest interference with the rights of conscience, or the functions of religion, so wisely exempted from civil jurisdiction; to preserve in their full energy, the other salutary provisions in behalf of private and personal rights, and of the freedom of the press;” as far as intention aids in the fulfilment of duty, are consummations to[o] big with benefits not to captivate the energies of all honest men to achieve them, when they can be brought to pass by reciprocation, friendly alliances, wise legislation, and honorable treaties.
The government has once flourished under the guidance of trusty servants; and the Hon. Mr. Munroe [James Monroe] in his day, while speaking of the Constitution: says, “our commerce has been wisely regulated with foreign nations, and between the states; new states have been admitted into our ; our teritory has been enlarged by fair and honorable treaty, and with great advantage to the original states; the states respectively protected by the national government, under a mild paternal system against foreign dangers, and enjoying within their separate spheres, by a wise partition of power, a just proportion of the sovereignty, have improved their police, extended their settlements, and attained a strength and maturity which are the best proofs of wholsome law well administered. And if we look to the condition of individuals, what a proud spectacle does it exhibit? who has been deprived of any right of person and property? who restrained from offering his vows in the mode in which he prefers, to the Divine Author of his being? It is well known that all these blessings have been enjoyed to their fullest extent; and I add, with peculiar satisfaction, that there has been no example of a capital punishment being inflicted on any one for the crime of high treason.” What a delightful picture, of power, policy and prosperity! Truly the wise man’s proverb is just: “Sedàukauh teromáin goy, veh-ka-sade le-u-méem khahmàut.” Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
But this is not all. The same honorable statesman, after having had about forty years experience in the government, under the full tide of successful experiment, gives the following commendatory assurance of the efficiency of the magna charta to answer its great end and aim: To protect the people in their rights. “Such, then, is the happy government under which we live; a government adequate to every purpose for which the social compact is formed; a government elective in all its branches, under which every cit [p. 6]
an old saying and a true one, “if you wish to be respected, respect yourselves.”
I will adopt, in part, the language of Mr. James Madison’s inaugural address, “To cherish peace and friendly intercourse with all nations, having correspondent dispositions; to maintain sincere neutrality towards belligerent nations; to prefer in all cases amicable discussion and reasonable accommodation of differences to a decision of them by an appeal to arms; to exclude foreign intrigues and foreign partialities, so degrading to all countries, and so baneful to free ones; to foster a spirit of independence too just to invade the rights of others, too proud to surrender our own, too liberal to indulge unworthy prejudicies ourselves, and too elevated not to look down upon them in others; to hold the of the States as the bases of their peace and happiness; to support the constitution, which is the cement of the , as well as in its limitatons as in its authorities; to respect the rights and authorities reserved to the States and to the people, as equally incorporated with, and essential to the success, of the general system; to avoid the slightest interference with the rights of conscience, or the functions of religion, so wisely exempted from civil jurisdiction; to preserve in their full energy, the other salutary provisions in behalf of private and personal rights, and of the freedom of the press;” as far as intention aids in the fulfilment of duty, are consummations too big with benefits not to captivate the energies of all honest men to achieve them, when they can be brought to pass by reciprocation, friendly alliances, wise legislation, and honorable treaties.
The government has once flourished under the guidance of trusty servants; and the Hon. Mr. Munroe [James Monroe] in his day, while speaking of the Constitution: says, “our commerce has been wisely regulated with foreign nations, and between the states; new states have been admitted into our ; our teritory has been enlarged by fair and honorable treaty, and with great advantage to the original states; the states respectively protected by the national government, under a mild paternal system against foreign dangers, and enjoying within their separate spheres, by a wise partition of power, a just proportion of the sovereignty, have improved their police, extended their settlements, and attained a strength and maturity which are the best proofs of wholsome law well administered. And if we look to the condition of individuals, what a proud spectacle does it exhibit? who has been deprived of any right of person and property? who restrained from offering his vows in the mode in which he prefers, to the Divine Author of his being? It is well known that all these blessings have been enjoyed to their fullest extent; and I add, with peculiar satisfaction, that there has been no example of a capital punishment being inflicted on any one for the crime of high treason.” What a delightful picture, of power, policy and prosperity! Truly the wise man’s proverb is just: “Sedàukauh teromáin goy, veh-ka-sade le-u-méem khahmàut.” Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.
But this is not all. The same honorable statesman, after having had about forty years experience in the government, under the full tide of successful experiment, gives the following commendatory assurance of the efficiency of the magna charta to answer its great end and aim: To protect the people in their rights. “Such, then, is the happy government under which we live; a government adequate to every purpose for which the social compact is formed; a government elective in all its branches, under which every cit [p. 6]
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