American Eloquence, Volume 1 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 227 pages of information about American Eloquence, Volume 1.

There is some difficulty in fixing on any completely representative oration to represent the republican point of view covering this period.  Gallatin’s speech on the Jay Treaty together with Nicholas’ argument for the repeal of the sedition law may serve this purpose.  The speech of Nicholas shows the instinctive sympathy of the party for the individual rather than for the government.  It shows the force with which this sympathy drove the party into a strict construction of the Constitution.  It seems also to bear the strongest internal indications that it was inspired, if not entirely written, by the great leader of the party, Jefferson.  The federalists had used the popular war feeling against France in 1798, not only to press the formation of an army and a navy and the abrogation of the old and trouble-some treaties with France, but to pass the alien and sedition laws as well.  The former empowered the President to expel from the country or imprison any alien whom he should consider dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States.  The latter forbade, under penalty of fine and imprisonment, the printing or publishing of any “false, scandalous, or malicious writings” calculated to bring the Government, Congress, or the President into disrepute, or to excite against them the hatred of the good people of the United States, or to stir up sedition.  It was inevitable that the republicans should oppose such laws, and that the people should support them in their opposition.  At the election of 1800, the federal party was overthrown, and the lost ground was never regained.  With Jefferson’s election to the presidency, began the democratic period of the United States; but it has always been colored strongly and naturally by the federal bias toward law and order.




—­House of representatives, April 26, 1796.


I will not follow some of the gentlemen who have preceded me, by dwelling upon the discretion of the legislature; a question which has already been the subject of our deliberations, and been decided by a solemn vote.  Gentle-men who were in the minority on that question may give any construction they please to the declaratory resolution of the House; they may again repeat that to refuse to carry the treaty into effect is a breach of the public faith which they conceive as being pledged by the President and Senate.  This has been the ground on which a difference of opinion has existed since the beginning of the discussion.  It is because the House thinks that the faith of the nation cannot, on those subjects submitted to the power of Congress, be pledged by any constituted authority other than the legislature, that they resolved that

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American Eloquence, Volume 1 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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