Page:Writings of Thomas Jefferson, III, IV.djvu/15

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v
The Louisiana Purchase

and fought Webster as a free trader before the South had developed its great cotton growth, and he was a free trader after that development when the South wanted to exchange raw cotton for cotton products. Madison believed that the United States Bank was unconstitutional and refused in 1811 to recharter it; but in 1816 Madison signed its second charter. In 1794 the Federalists passed an embargo and the Republicans denounced it as unconstitutional; and in 1807 the Republicans passed an embargo and the Federalists denounced it as unconstitutional. The Republicans affirmed the right of nullification against the alien and sedition acts of 1798 and the Federalists denounced it; but a few years later the Federalists asserted that right of nullification against the force act of 1809 while the other party denounced it. Virginia recanted and repudiated the famous Virginia resolutions at the very time that Pennsylvania and Ohio shifted to the other side and affirmed the same doctrine. If it be a question of inconsistencies, the chapter is absolutely unlimited.

It would be, indeed, easy to find inconsistencies between the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the practice of the Louisiana Purchase. What of it? When it comes to an issue between an abstract doctrine and vital practical statesmanship what masterful man, with great destinies in his hand, does not turn from the theoretical dogma to the living and commanding act? What true statesman permits a general and vague conception to paralyze a dis-