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Letter From J. G. Birney, To The President Of The Michigan S...

Letter From J. G. Birney, To The President Of The Michigan S... image
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Lower Snginaw, Jan. 1, 1846. To the President of the Convention: Sih: - Believing that it will bo out of my power to attend the next Anniversary of the State Anti-Slavery Society, and personally take part in its debates - the anxiety I feel as to the results to which they may lead, must be my apology for now addressing you. That we, who have earnestly investígated the evils of Slavery, should carry with us, at this time, a large majority of the people of the Free States, on that queslion alone, is what I scarcely expect. As a party, we cannot limit ourselves to the opressions of the ty rant over hi Slave. If we seek not to re-establish the whoïe Constitution, wherever party aims - and they alone - have perverted it; if we fai) to build on our good and maintainable substratum - the legal and consliluiiona equality of all men - other iníerests, i which the people deep fee) concern; if w are not in fact a reform party, we sha accompüsh comparatively but little; and I apprehend, there is not much use for u hereor at this time.The manner in which theLiberly parly has, already, been supported in the Free States, generally, is an omen of good. On their parf, when the question ofSlavery is viewed as Statesmen view it, t is but a natural struggle lor a still superior state of civilization to any they haveyet enjoyed. There is no telling to what degree of civilization the Free States, with their opportunities, mightnot have reached, had it not been for their political cönnection with the South, and their support of Slavery: for they have substantially supported it, as far as it has been supported, and as far as they could be juggled into it. Every State of Europe, and in this country, wheVe alone civilization and Christianity, its prime element, in any degree, prevail, have banished Slavery, as incompatible with them, and indeed, with the proper aim of n State. From this remark, Russia must be excepted, which, in her Slavery and half-Civilization, more resembles the South than does any olher nation of that continent. The Liberty party have, long since, ccased to look for any advancement ofhe natrón, fn good things, to the Demoratic or Whig party. Reílccting perons - who are not in search of office, and hat are yet counted wilh both these paries, must soor see the matter as we do. he honest Whig cannot fail of seeing, lat with the Jeadersof that party oül of oífice, notliing istoo good for thern to proiise,-in oílíce, nothing is toa bad for íem to do. The honest Democrat must tnow, that, in his party, thcre is nothing ommendible, but the name - and that. ov-a-days, is n clear usurpation; that, ley are faithless to eveiy just principie vhich they profess - or rather, that they verlenp evevy principie which they procss, that at all iuterferes with one whicii hey do not profess: tliis last is, that ihey nake out of the people, whatever can be lade, through the instrumental ity of an ffice. Partios such as we have now, and are ikely to have, as long os (he people remnin as they are, are the bañe of any ountry. We have need here of but one arty: the rest must be but mere factions. Ve want here a parly oí just men - such s are friendly to the Constitution. The Constitution is supposed to be founded in ustice. lf any of its provisions be unjust, nd of course, inconsistent with the olhrs, ihey wil] have thcm altered or exunged. The only party, I repeat it, jat we need, is one to defend íhe Constiution; the only íaction that we fear, is ne that seeks to destroy it. The Whigs have been trying, of late, ut not wilh the best success, it would eem, to boguile the people with a tariiT - with a national bank, where t was popular - with thegiving of the proceeds of the sale of the public lands to the States.We have had a tariff, and have not had n arifF: - we have had a national bank, anctioned, too, by both Whigs and Detiocrats, and we have not had one: - we mve lived, since the ndoption of the Conslilution, with the public lands os they now are, without any attempt heretofore o bribe the Stntes, with the gift ofthem; - we have been, in the main, prosperous, too, undér this pernicious tampoting. It is not, tül lately, that the Whig leaders :iave had the -address to induce a large sortion of the people to regard, as theii "enemies" their neighbors, who differed with them on these topics. Hád it not been for the last consideraron - had they not converted into foes, those who ought to have been friends, their proceedings would have been comparatively harmless - for the Constitution was yet unbroken. But in this they succeeded too well, and all, that the Whigs might have the offices and power of the government in their own hands. They descended for this purpose, to a forgery, which, as a party, they used; and for which they have not, as yet, even made the slightest acknowledgement. For myself, I care but little for their acknowledgment. For you, as a partv, I demand it.The Democrats have been more successfully, trying the same ihing with a Sub Treasury dole - with professions of the "largest liberty" - with opposition to the things most plcasing to the VVhigs, - til], at last, the Democrats of the Norlh have been prevailed on by tlieir confederóles at the South - if we are to believe Mr. Calhoun's letter to the British Minis ter - -for the sole advancement of Slavcry to repeat, and even to go beyond, all their former violations of the Constitution. It is worthy of the most earnest consideration, by those who think the country may yot be saved, that all the permanent and irremediable breaches of the Constitution. have been efiected' under the rule of che strict conslruclionists. Mr. Madison approved of the late Bank of the United States, and the charter was prepared by the father of the present Vice President, himself a Democrat. It has beensubmitted to the Supreme Court of the U.S. and opproved by that tribunal: still the Democrats contend that it is unconstitutional. Mr. Jefferson purchased Louisiana, Mr. Monroe, Florida, and Mr. Polk, even before he entered on his office, converted, at least, as many Whigs as he wanted in the Senate, to enable him, as far as that body could, to introduce Texas into the Union. But it is a waste of time for mo to be finding fault with parties, from whom we have separated - who have not, for ihe last twenty years been entitled to our confidence, and who I mny say, are totally without it. The sensible men, io bothof them, must soon see, I say, that the conflicts in which they are annually called to piay their part, have degeneraled into mere scrambles for office; that, by an office, a VVhigcan speedily beconverted into a Democrat, or a Democrat into a Whig: or if I should desígnate the parties more properly, they represent two gamblers, each of whom has but half enough to support him in hislaziness and extravagance; they stake the whole and play for the amount, that one may lead the life of a gentlemen without business, the other, that of a loafer or vagabond on the face of the earth. The People are only the Cards, with which the game is played. Mr. Polk may have a splendid administration; so might Mr. Clay, had he been elected. But that is not what we want; that is not the object we have in view,vhen we pay Mr. Polk hissalary - when ve agree that ve will pay an enlranced rce for what we eat, and wear and use. We don't want an English government, lor do we want our free institations dislaraged, nor do we want our best men nade ligíit of, Ly charging them with beng bought with British gold. We imagine that no such case hasoccurred, since Jreat Britain acknowledged our indepenenee; and persons show their contempt or the intelligenceof the people, who are jiven to such charges. Nor do we wani v Frerncfr government, nor any other in he world, but oúr oten, divested of paríy$m. VVe don't wish to see our governiierit swnyed by what other governments o. ínstead of being swayed by other we desire tö see her sway Dthers. We wish her tobe the first government, as she wasintended to be, under hesun. She never can be tliis, till jusice to al, characterize all that' she does i home - till usZce distinguían ñer ifí aH íer intercourse with other States - tilï ustice is in all that she says or does. To bring our government to this elevation - were I among you, - I would support, hese propositions: I would diminish the powers, the paronage, and of course, the salary of the President of the United States. The observation of the last five years - especialy, with regard to the Army, Navy, and appointments to office, would lead to this, f nothing else would. I would reduce, and uhimately aboüsh he Army. We need none now. Jfwè should need one in future, which is highy improbable, the afiections of the peoïle increased by demolishing it: may well be relied on. The officers, it will be found even now, very difficult to get rid of. When the Army is increased fourfold, it will be impossible.The Navy, too, I would gradually reduce, till it was totally abolished. The same reasons exibt for the demolition of ihe Navy, that exist for the demolilion of the Army. One is called the right, the other the left arm of this Republic. So we are to make our way through the world, not by reason and common sense, but-by fghlivg. However moral thisway may be, it bas ever been found expensive, whether tried nationally, or individually. So, 1 think, it will ever be found. It is no wonder that an officer of the Army, lying asleep till the middle of the day, in lus comfortable quarters- having good comprny - good wine - and a good salarv, du'.y paid, out of the public treasury, should fancy himself the right arm of this natioft. Nor is it any wonder that an officer in the Navy - especial ly, since the Navy is probably to be increased, for the benefit of Slaveholders, - should, for the same reasons that influenced the officer in the Army, fancy himself the left arm of this nation. But while they are enjoying all these good things, and giving wings to their imogination, it is not so well for the poor man that 'has to pay lus portion of their salary. Besides all this, up to the 30th June, I think, the Army and Navy cost about two-thiids of all our expenses, the preceeding year. They have never returned it - they never will - the people have to pny the expense; and I would gradually learn to do without them, till I could do without them altogether. There are some people who imagine that government was made only for fighting; that it can subsist only by fighting; that its honor and its everything depend on fighting; that it is to judged entirely by the forwardness of its prepatijns for fighting. Now, according to my notion, these people are much 'mistaken, and I would teach them so, in the most practical manner; I would send them, it is hoped, to some honest pursuit : while I would transact my business vvith other nations on principies of common sense anc justice, and raise an Army or a Navy, when I wanted them, not keep them always on hand. I would also do avay entirely, with a tarifT, as it is familiarly called. The Ar my and Navy keep up the tariff almos as much as anything else. Bul I wouk do away with it gradually, so that no present interest should be injuriously aíFect ed. The tarifF, like disease in the human body, can only be guessed at. No person has yet shown it so clearly, as to make it worthy of being considered a permanent Slaie institution. The bare fact of such a wide difíerence as now existí in relation to it, between minds of the best and most impartial texture, is proof of this. One thing though, we all know: that if an article be worth ten cents per yard, and we makeit by legislation, worth twelve, the two cents have te be paid, somehow, by the other interests of the country. It may be, too, by other interests, which are themselves languishing, and which have done all they could to oppose it. But it may be said, especially of the cotton interest, in reply to this, that the support of the government produces competition, and we get articles still lower than they have been. This proves, unanswerably, I think, if they continue io be so sold, that the interest in question never needed a tariff of protection. Ifit does not prove this, we have stimulated persons improperly to engage in a protected interest, and they are now selling lower than they afford to sell.sides this, it is stficf, we contend successfully in foteign markets; especially in tho nterest already indicated. If this be truo, all the clamor about thé pauper labor of Europe is false; becausé in a fofeign martet we must meet it. It will be a happy thingj Í thinè, when the national custom houses aré done away with; whèn their thousands are not expected to electioneer br the persons who put there; when ihere shall exist no motivéf fbr smugglng; and free irade shall be established the United States íeadiñg the way. I would reduce the daily allowance said to. members of Congress, at least one ialf. Noto, notwiths tanding we have rail roads and steam boats, which shorten the time of travel alnrtost incalculably, we have„no reduction of the daily allowance of members of Congress. Now, the tri from Boston, say to rteedj not occupy more than three or fou'rdays,and cali for an expenditure of more thatv tvventy-fiveor thirty dollars: yet, ifl mis. t'aie nót, thé member of Congr"ess re ceives fór it, the sum of two hundred doílars or more. Bút áll this is thrown into1 the shade, and it shows how light a thing public money is, by a decisión1 of Vice; President Dallas, at a session of the Senale, beginning the fifth of ftlarch last the day after the preceeding one had duly terminated. He'decided, that all the SeV ators were entitled to their travelling expenses to their places of abode, and back again to Washington city. This, with regard to the Senators elect, who had come from their homes to attend fha meeting to which they were summoned, was right enough, - but with what ace Mr. Dallas offered that sum to Senator who had not even packed up their trunk, or paid their boarding house keeper's bilí, and with what face such Senators received such a gift from the treasury, is for them and the people to say. It has occurred to me, as an improvement on the present plan - such is the differenco in the value of money in different parts of the country - to nave the Senators paid by the State and the members of the House of Representatives by the district which sent them. This comtemplates their being paid near at home, and accor ding to the value of their services. From the specimens I have given you- & I desire not to make this letter too lonp, by the citation of other instances - you see that I am the advocate of entire reform in the General Government. I am not the less so, in regard to our State Government. If government be the concentrated. physical force of the community, ngainst the individual, or individuals, who viólate justice, it has not half 10 do that it now attempts. Whatever, in any way, contributes to make government do what il ought to do; to confine it to that; tq make it economical; comprehensible, by those who give their minds to it; just at home and abroad; in fine, concurrent with the divine government, without which it will not last long, shall find in me a steady supporter. All this I wish tl.e Liberty party to do; aud not to give way to the undignified proposition, that othera will do it for us. Respectfully yours,


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