Friday, February 23, 2007

President Martin Van Buren, December 2, 1839 message to the U.S. House and Senate:

“...That there should have been, in the progress of recent events, doubts in many quarters, and in some a heated opposition to every change, cannot surprise us. Doubts are properly attendant on all reform; and it is peculiarly in the nature of such abuses as we are now encountering, to seek to perpetuate their power by means of the influence they have been permitted to acquire. It is their result, if not their object, to gain for the few an ascendency over the many, by securing to them a monopoly of the currency, the medium through which most of the wants of mankind are supplied--to produce throughout society a chain of dependance which leads all classes to look to privileged associations for the means of speculation and extravagance,--to nourish, in preference to the manly virtues that give dignity to human nature, a craving desire for luxurious enjoyment and sudden wealth, which renders those who seek them dependant on those who supply them--to substitute for republican simplicity and economical habits a sickly appetite for effeminate indulgence, and an imitation of that reckless extravagance which impoverished and enslaved the industrious people of foreign lands; and at last, to fix upon us, instead of those equal political rights, the acquisition of which was alike the object and supposed reward of our revolutionary struggle, a system of exclusive privileges conferred by partial legislation. To remove the influences which had thus gradually grown up among us--to deprive them of their deceptive advantages--to test them by the light of wisdom and truth--to oppose the force which they concentrate in their support--all this was necessarily the work of time, even among a people so enlightened and pure as that of the United States. In most other countries, perhaps, it could only be accomplished through that series of revolutionary movements, which are too often found necessary to effect any great and radical reform; but it is the crowning merit of our institution&s, that they create and nourish, in the vast majority of our people, a disposition and a power peaceably to remedy abuses which have elsewhere caused the effusion of rivers of bloody and the sacrifice of thousands of the human race. The result thus far is most honorable to the self denial, the intelligence, and the patriotism of our citizens; it justifies the confident hope that they will carry through the reform which has been so well begun, and that they will go still farther than they have yet gone in illustrating the important truth, that a people as free and enlightened as ours, will, whenever it becomes necessary, show themselves to be indeed capable of self-government, by voluntarily adopting appropriate remedies for every abuse, and submitting to temporary sacrifices, however great, to ensure their permanent welfare....”

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