Speech of Mr. McDuffie, of South Carolina

Speech of Mr. McDuffie, of South Carolina

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Excerpt from Speech of Mr. McDuffie, of South Carolina: On the Bill Proposing a Reduction of the Duties on Imports, Delivered in the House of Representatives, May 28, 1832

Mr. McDuffie rose, and said: I propose, sir, to submit some explanations, in addition to those already presented, in a different form, of the views and principles which induced the Committee of Ways and Means to report the present bill as an adjustment of the great subject of the tariff. I must, however, in the outset, candidly acknowledge that I have not the least glimmering of hope that any thing I may utter at this time, or which any human being can advance in this Hall, will induce the majority to adopt the measure now proposed, or any other measure founded on similar principles. Nay, sir, I am reluctantly compelled to go still farther. Although I have been disposed to hope even against hope, that some Providential coincidence of circumstances might yet intervene to incline the hearts of the majority to justice, and lead their deliberations to some propitious result; yet the developments and the experience of every day have rendered it more and more apparent that all such expectations are utterly vain and delusive. As to any adjustment of this great question, therefore, which shall give tranquillity to the public mind, and restore the broken harmony of this Union, "my ?nal hope is flat despair." Under these circumstances, it may seem singular, but it is nevertheless true, that it is precisely because I do not hope to produce conviction upon the minds of this committee, and have no expectation that this great question will be adjusted here, that I am more particularly anxious to set forth, in the clearest and most distinct manner, the principles which will govern me, and, as I believe, those who are associated with me, as well as the State we in common represent, in all the vicissitudes of this great contest for our unalienable rights. Sir, it is vain, it is worse than vain, to attempt to put by, to evade, or to palter with this question. It can no longer be disguised, that there does exist, under the unjust and oppressive legislation of Congress, and without any agency of Providence to that effect, a radical hostility of interests between the two great subdivisions of this confederacy. And if the power of the majority, and not their sense of justice, is to decide the present controversy, it will be impossible ever to reconcile these conflicting interests. Such being the case, God only knows what is to be the end of this great political drama. One thing is certain; an eventful political era is at hand, and whether it shall be signalized by the civil triumph, or by the catastrophe of constitutional liberty, history will record that triumph or that catastrophe, and posterity will pronounce judgment on the authors of it.

That my views and principles maybe understood and appreciated by that august
tribunal, and that the record which history shall make up, may present the true issue between the two great contending parties, the oppressors and the oppressed, I will attempt, before I take my seat, to demonstrate how grevious are the wrongs we have too patiently endured, and how vital and sacred are the rights for which we are contending.

But, before I proceed to examine the inequality and gross injustice of this combined system of taxation and protection, I shall ask the attention of the committee to a brief exposition of my views as to the amount of revenue which, under existing circumstances, I deem it expedient to provide for defraying the necessary and proper expenses of this Government.

In deciding this question, there is no better criterion to which we can resort than the average expenditures of a former period, which all must acknowledge to furnish a proper basis for such a calculation.
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