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MADE TO THE CITIZENS OF BANGOR, MAINE, AUGUST 25, 1835.
During a visit to Maine, in the summer of 1835, on business connected with his profession, Mr. Webster was at Bangor, where he partook of a collation with many of the citizens. There were so many more people, however, anxious to see and hear him than could be accommodated in the hall of the Hotel, that, after the cloth was removed, he was compelled to proceed to the balcony, where, after thanking the company for their hospitality, and their manifestation of regard, 'he addressed the assembly as follows:
Having occasion to come into the State, on professional business, I have gladly availed myself of the opportunity to visit this city, the growing magnitude and importance of which have recently attracted so much general notice. I am happy to say, that I see around me ample proofs of the correctness of those favorable representations which have gone abroad. Your city, gentlemen, has undoubtedly experienced an extraordinary growth; and it is a growth, I think, which there is reason to hope is not unnatural, or greatly disproportionate to the eminent advantages of the place. It so happened, that, at an early period of my life, I came to this spot, attracted by that favorable position, which the slightest glance on the map must satisfy every one that it occupies. It is near the head of tide water, on a river which brings to it from the sea a volume of water equal to the demands of the largest vessels of war, and whose branches, uniting here, from great distances above, traverse, in their course, extensive tracts, now covered with valuable productions of the forest, and capable, most of them, of profitable agricultural cultivation. But at the period I speak of, the time had not come for the proper development and display of these advantages. Neither the place itself, nor the country, was then ready. A long course of commercial restrictions and embargo, and a foreign war, were yet to be gone through, before the local advantages of such a spot could be exhibited or enjoyed, or the country would be in a condition to create an active demand for its main products.
I believe some twelve or twenty houses were all that Bangor could enumerate, when I was in it before; and I remember to have crossed the stream, which now divides your fair city, on some floating logs, VOL. III.
for the purpose of visiting a former friend and neighbor, who had just then settled here, a gentleman always most respectable, and now venerable for his age and his character, whom I have great pleasure in seeing among you to-day, in the enjoyment of health and happi
It is quite obvious, Gentlemen, that while the local advantages of a noble river, and of a large surrounding country, may be justly considered as the original spring of the present prosperity of the city, the current of this prosperity has, nevertheless, been put in motion, enlarged and impelled, by the general progress of improvement, and growth of wealth throughout the whole country.
At the period of my former visit, there was, of course, neither Rail-road nor Steam-boat, nor Canal, to favor communication; nor do I recollect that any public or stage coach came within fifty miles of the town.
Internal Improvement has been the great agent of so favorable a change; and so blended are our interests, that the general activity, which exists elsewhere, supported and stimulated by Internal Improvement, pervades and benefits even those portions of the country which are locally remote from the immediate scene of the main operations of this Improvement. Whatever promotes communication whatsoever extends general business whatsoever encourages enterprise, or whatsoever advances the general wealth and prosperity of other States, must have a plain, direct, and powerful bearing on your own prosperity. In truth, there is no town in the Union, whose hopes can be more directly staked on the general prosperity of the country, than this rising city. If any thing should interrupt the general operations of business, — if commercial embarrassment, foreign war, pecuniary derangement, domestic dissension, or any other causes, were to arrest the general progress of the public welfare, all must see, with what a blasting and withering effect such a course must operate on Bangor.
Gentlemen, I have often taken occasion to say, what circumstances may render it proper now to repeat, that, at the close of the last war, a new era, in my judgment, had opened in the United States. A new career then lay before us. At
ourselves with the nations of Europe, and those nations, too, at peace with one another, and the leading civilized States of the world no longer allowing that commerce which had been the rich harvest of our neutrality, in the midst of former wars, but all now coming forward to exercise their own rights, in sharing the commerce and trade of the world, it seemed to me to be very plain, that while our commerce was still to be fostered with the most zealous care, yet quite a new view of things was presented to us, in regard to our internal pursuits and
The works of peace, as it seemed to me, had become our duties. A hostile exterior, a front of brass, and an arm of iron, all necessary in the just defence of the country against foreign aggression, naturally gave place, in a change of circumstances, to the attitude, the objects, and the pursuits of peace. Our true interest, as I thought, was to explore our own resources, to call forth and encourage labor and enterprise upon internal objects, to multiply the sources of employment and comfort at home, and to unite the country by ties of intercourse, commerce, benefits, and prosperity, in all parts, as well as by the ties of political association. And it appeared to me that Government itself clearly possessed the power, and was as clearly charged with the duty of helping on, in various ways, this great business of Internal Improvement. I have, therefore, steadily supported all measures, directed to that end, which appeared to me to be within the just power of the Government, and to be practicable within the limits of reasonable expenditure. And if any one would judge how far the fostering of this spirit has been beneficial to the country, let him compare its state at this moment, with its condition at the commencement of the late war; and let him then say how much of all that has been added to national wealth, and national strength, and to individual prosperity and happiness, has been the fair result of Internal Improvement.
Gentlemen, it has been your pleasure to give utterance to sentiments, expressing approbation of my humble
efforts, on several occasions, in defence and maintenance of the Constitution of the country. I have nothing to say of those efforts, except that they have been honestly intended. The country sees no reason, I trust, to suppose that on those occasions I have taken counsel of any thing but a deep sense of duty. I have, on some occasions, felt myself called on to maintain my opinions, in opposition to power, to place, to official influence, and to overwhelming personal popularity. I have thought it my imperative duty to put forth my most earnest efforts to maintain what I considered to be the just powers of the Government, when it appeared to me that those to whom its administration was intrusted were countenancing opinions inevitably tending to its destruction. And I have, with far more pleasure, on other occasions, supported the constituted authorities, when I have deerned their measures to be called for, by a regard to its preservation.
The Constitution of the United States, Gentlemen, has appeared to me to have been formed and adopted for two grand objects. The first is the union of the States. It is the bond of that union, and it states and defines its terms. Who can speak, in terms warm enough and high enough, of its importance in this respect, or the admirable wisdom with which it is formed? Or who, when he shall have stated its past benefits and blessings to those States, most strongly, will venture to say, that he has yet done it justice? For one, I am not sanguine enough to believe, that if this bond of Union were dissolved, any other tie, uniting all the States, would take its place for generations to come. It requires no common skill, it is no piece of ordinary political journey-work, to form a system, which shall hold together four-and-twenty separate State sovereignties, the line of whose united territories runs down all the parallels of latitude from New Brunswick to the Gulf of Mexico, and whose connected breadth stretches from the sea far beyond the Mississippi. Nor are all times, or all occasions, suited to such great operations. It is only under the most favorable circumstances, and only when great men are called on to meet great exigencies, only once in centuries, that such fortunate political results are attained. Whoever, therefore, undervalues this National Union, whoever depreciates it, whoever accustoms himself to consider how the people might get on without it, appears to me to encourage sentiments subversive of the foundations of our prosperity.
It is true that those twenty-four States are, more or less, different in climate, productions, and local pursuits. There are planting States, grain-growing States, manufacturing States, and commercial States. But those several interests, if not identical, are not, therefore, inconsistent and hostile. Far froin it. They unite, on the contrary, to promote an aggregate result of unrivalled national happiness. It is not precisely a case in which
" All nature's difference keeps all nature's peace; ” but it is, precisely, a case in which variety of climate and condition, and diversities of pursuits and productions, all unite to exhibit oge harmonious, grand, and magnificent whole, to which the world
may be proudly challenged to show an equal. In my opinion, no man, in any corner of any one of those States, can stand up and declare, that he is less prosperous, or less happy, than if the General Government had never existed. And entertaining these sentiments, and feeling their force most deeply, I feel it the bounden duty of every good citizen, in public and in private life, to follow the admonition of Washington, and to cherish that Union which makes us one people. I most earnestly deprecate, therefore, whatever occurs, in the Government or out of it, calculated to endanger the Union, or disturb the basis on which it rests.
Another object of the Constitution I take to be such as is common to all written Constitutions of Free Governments; that is, to fix limits to delegated authority, or, in other words, to impose constitutional restraints on political power. Some, who esteem themselves Republicans, seem to think no other security for public liberty necessary, than a provision for a popular choice of rulers. If political power be delegated power, they entertain little fear of its being abused. The people's servants and favorites, they think, may be safely trusted. Our fathers, certainly, were not of this school. They sought to make assurance doubly sure, by providing, in the