custom-houses fill the general treasury, while the States have scanty resources, except by resort to heavy direct taxes.
Under this view of things, I thought it necessary to settle, at least for myself, some definite notions with respect to the powers of the government in regard to internal affairs. It may not savor too much of self-commendation to remark, that, with this object, I considered the Constitution, its judicial construction, its contemporaneous exposition, and the whole history of the legislation of Congress under it; and I arrived at the conclusion, that government had power to accomplish sundry objects, or aid in their accomplishment, which are now commonly spoken of as Internal Improvements. That conclusion, Sir, may have been right, or it may have been wrong. I am not about to argue the grounds of it at large. I say only, that it was adopted and acted on even so early as in 1816. Yes, Mr. President, I made up my opinion, and determined on my intended course of political conduct, on these subjects, in the Fourteenth Congress, in 1816. And now, Mr. President, I have further to say, that I made up these opinions, and entered on this course of political conduct, Teucro duce. Yes, Sir, I pursued in all this a South Carolina track on the doctrines of internal improvement. South Carolina, as she was then represented in the other house, set forth in 1816 under a fresh and leading breeze, and I was among the followers. But if my leader sees new lights and turns a sharp corner, unless I see new lights also, I keep straight on in the same path. I repeat, that leading gentlemen from South Carolina were first and foremost in behalf of the doctrines of internal improvements, when those doctrines came first to be considered and acted upon in Congress. The debate on the bank question, on the tariff of 1816, and on the direct tax, will show who was who, and what was what, at that time.
The tariff of 1816, (one of the plain cases of oppression and usurpation, from which, if the government does not recede, individual States may justly secede from the government,) is, Sir, in truth, a South Carolina tariff, supported by South Carolina votes. But for those votes, it could not have passed in the form in which it did pass; whereas, if it had depended on Massachusetts votes, it would have been lost. Does not the honorable gentleman well know all this? There are certainly those who do, full well, know it all. I do not say this to reproach South Carolina. I only state the fact; and I think it will appear to be true, that among the earliest and boldest advocates of the tariff, as a measure of protection, and on the express ground of protection, were leading gentlemen of South Carolina in Congress. I did not then, and cannot now, understand their language in any other sense. While this tariff of 1816 was under discussion in the House of Representatives, an honorable gentleman from Georgia, now of this house, moved to reduce the proposed duty on cotton. He failed, by four votes, South Carolina giving three votes (enough to have turned the scale) against his motion. The act, Sir, then passed, and received on its passage the support of a majority of the Representatives of South Carolina present and voting. This act is the first in the order of those now denounced as plain usurpations. We see it daily in the list, by the side of those of 1824 and 1828, as a case of manifest oppression, justifying disunion. I put it home to the honorable member from South Carolina, that his own State was not only "art and part" in this measure, but the causa causans. Without her aid, this seminal principle of mischief, this root of Upas, could not have been planted. I have already said, and it is true, that this act proceeded on the ground of protection. It interfered directly with existing interests of great value and amount. It cut up the Calcutta cotton trade by the roots; but it passed, nevertheless, and it passed on the principle of protecting manufactures, on the principle
- Mr. Calhoun, when this speech was made, was President of the Senate, and Vice-President of the United States.
- Mr. Forsyth.