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And perverted in its most material bearing upon Society, by the omis
sion of a system of Corn Laws, for the protection of Agriculture.
MR. GILES® SPEECH
HOUSE OF DELEGATES OF VIRGINIA,
IN REPLY TO MR. CLAY'S SPEECH:
IN REPLY TO GEN. TAYLOR'S;
SUNDRY OTHER INTERESTING SUBJECTS AND ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS.
The whole containing a mass of highly useful Information
at the present Interesting Crisis.
Opposite the Bell-Tavern.
Acting, under an irresistible sense of public duty; and with a view of protecting, the rights of this Commonwealth, aganist the usurpations of the General Government, I presented certain resolutions to the last General Assembly of Virginia, calling for an inquiry into the relative rights of the General and State Governments; grounded upon a fair interpretation of all our fundamental laws, according to their original words, tenor, and spirit.-Having made this call, it imposed on me, the farther duty, of stating to the House, my inducements for doing so. In the performance of this duty, I found it the most convenient mode of exhibiting my views, of the most pressing part of the subject, to have reference to a speech, delivered by Mr. Clay, in the House of Representatives, in favor of the tariff bill. I had been often referred to this speech, by the friends of the tariff, as containing all its true doctrines; both constitutional, and politic. My attention had also, been particularly called to it, by a letter, from Mr. Clay himself. But finding; that, however ample, and abundant, the public considerations may be, for public acts; imputations of inviduous, personal feelings, are constantly suggested, as motives, for public conduct; and being perfectly willing, that the privale, as well as public relations, existing between any individual, implicated in my discussions, and myself, should be made known to the public, I have determined to give publicity, to the subjoined correspondence, between Mr. Clay and myself; with the accompanying certificate. Whilst, I feel the most perfect consciousness, of having, in every act of my public life, been influenced, solely, by public considerations; and feel the utmost contempt, for the little malicious minds; which could condescend to suggest, invidious private motives, for public acts, when they cannot, themselves, avoid seeing abundant public ones; I deem it proper here, for the purpose of counteracting the unfounded suggestions, incessantly brought forward in the public prints against myself, to state :- That I have never in my whole political life, solicited an office: nor a vote for an office :- That whilst, acting in the representative character, in Congress, I never would accept an executive office; and not only, often made that avowal in private conversations; but on one occasion, made a public declaration to the same effect.That I resigned my office twice, and declined a re-election once, during my public service; proving incontestibly, that I had no inordinate solicitude for office; and, that, whether in, or out of office, I have at all times, taken due care, to preserve my personal independence, with an approving conscience; securing to me, a perfect exemption from all motives whatever, to do wrong. It will be necessary, to enable the public, to form a correct judgment, upon the conduct of Mr. Clay, in addressing the subjoined letter to me, to state a few facts, connected with that transaction. As soon as I saw the latitudinarian construction, placed upon the Constitution, by the administrators of the practical government; which, in my judgment, went to obliterate every vestige of its restraining provisions; I could not avoid anticipating; either, a severance of the Union; or a consolidated despotism, of the very worst organization. These anticipations, seem, at this time, to be, but too rapidly, progressing to realities;—under this impression, I thought proper, to present to the public, my views of the inevitable tendencies of this new mode of interpreting the Constitution. In performing this task, I found it would be necessary to have reference to Mr. Clay and others, with whom, I had formerly acted in Congress, upon principles, directly opposed, in my judgment, to those, now advocated by the same gentlemen; and that some of my remarks might possibly bear hard, upon their most obvious inconsistencies, I therefore determined, not to avail myself of the cover of an anonymous signature, but to exhibit my opinions under my own proper name. After a number of my communications had been published, I received, most unexpectedly, the subjoined letter from Mr. Clay; written, with every mark of diplomatic ceremony, deliberation, and circumspection; and accompanied, with two copies of his speech upon the tariff bill. Whilst, I utterly disclaim all resentment, or hostility whatever, towards Mr. Clay, in consequence of his having addressed this letter to me; and the highly unwarrantable use he made of it, as I think, before its transmission, the transaction completely divested me of the respect, towards Mr. Clay, which is always felt by one gentleman, towards another; and this circumstance may, possibly, have led me in my commentary upon Mr. Clay's speech; inadvertently, to speak, without that respectful consideration, which is at all times, due from one gentleman to another; because, I did not consider Mr. Clay, as standing in that relation, towards me. Whilst it is possible, I may have been inadvertently led into a freedom of remark towards Mr. Clay, in consequence of an entire exemption from any obligation, towards him as a gentleman, which, if done, has been unconsciously, done; yet, as far as I am able to judge, there is no epithet in the remarks, applied to Mr. Clay, which is not perfectly warranted by the peculiar characteristics of his own speech. I think, many of the suggestions, contained in that speech, not only highly injurious to the interests, but insulting to the understandings of every wheat farmer, slave holder, and Southern, from Potomac, to the Gulf of Mexico inclusive. After having received Mr. Clay's most extraordinary letter, as I think it; and was informed, that he had condescended to make an unwarrantable use of it, before its transmission to me; I thouglit it an act of justice to Mr. Clay, to give him an opportunity of exculpating himself from the suggested imputation ; but I had no mode of doing so.
Being rendered physically unable to call upon Mr. Clay in person, for an explanation, which, whether made in person, or by another, would not have been done, in a spirit of revenge for private satisfaction; but for publication, with a view of submitting the transaction to public opinion; and the office, being of too delicate a character, to impose upon a friend ;-I determined to wait until my eldest son came
of age, and to impose the unpleasant office upon him.—This has been done; and its execution will appear by Mr. Archer's certificate. Mr. Clay having, thus, been afforded by me, an ample opportunity of exculpation, and refusing to avail himself of it; I consider the equivocation, as an admission; that he did make the unwarrantable use of the letter, which had been suggested. If, however, he did not; this publication will afford him a further opportunity of making any explanation of the transaction, he may think proper. The contents of Mr. Clay's letter; were of so singular a character, that it was difficult; upon the first blush, to put a satisfactory interpretation upon them,
For, whilst Mr. Clay, was certainly, perfectly at liberty, to be, as sarcastic, as he could be, towards myself; I did not think him at liberty to be so extremely sarcastic, as the contents of his letter certainly prove him to be, upon his own veracity, sincerity, and fidelity; nor could my imagination conceive, what manner of evil spirit it could be, that did tempt Mr. Clay to resort to this extraordinary letter, as an instrument, for privately indulging his revengeful feelings, arising from open, undisguised acts in relation to himself; and, as to the complaint intimated, that I had “discussed the public acts, and public conduct of those, who had the honor to concur, and co-operate with you (me) in important measures, adopted in the most eventful crisis of our common country,” it is only necessary to observe, that in my public remarks, I had discussed those public acts, and that public conduct, which were directly at war with those public acts, and that public conduct, in which, heretofore, I had the honor “to concur and co-operate," with the geutleman alluded to. Believing the doctrines contained in Mr. Clay's speech, more bold and alarming, than
any I had ever before seen avowed officially; I determined to give them as much attention at least, as he desired, and to write a critique upon them at that time; but I was then prevented, by a long continuation of ill health.
The discussion of the tariff question, in the House of Delegates, growing out of the resolutions of inquiry, afforded me an opportune occasion of making a general review of Mr. Clay's speech, instead of the critical one originally intended; and seemed to be invited by Mr. Clay himself. Although, when I called for an explanation from Mr. Clay, through my son, my object was merely to make a public disclosure of the transaction, if it should result as I had reason to expect; yét after the papers were returned, from farther reflection, I determined not to publish them. This determination arose almost solely from my extreme reluctance in having my name brought before the public in any way whatever, unless impelled by considerations of importance to the public interests. But Į have, within a few days, changed that determination. I have been reluctantly driven to this change, in consequence of the false, deceptive imputations, recently brought against me in the public prints devoted to Mr. Clay and the administration, of acting under the miserable influence of invidious personal motives for all my public acts; which, if the infamous suggestions were true, could not in the smallest tittle, alter the character of those acts. Whereas, I here aver, that I do not indulge invidious feelings towards any human being; and that I have not, at this moment, any desire whatever to fill any office, nor would I accept of any, in my present infirm state of health, except the one heretofore conferred upon me by the pleasure of the General Assembly. I hope that refraining from publishing this transaction of Mr. Clay's in the midst of the electioneering scene, which has overshadowed the whole country, from March, 1826, to this time, will protect me from the charge of voluntarily intermixing in that electioneering scene; and of wishing my name, uonecessarily, to appear before the public on any occasion whatever. So far as I have brought it before the public, I have acted solely from public, not private, considerations; nor have I intermixed in the electioneering scene, farther, than manifesting my most decided opposition to the present administration, grounded upon the firm conviction, that should it continue, American liberty is gone, and with it, the last vestige of hope for the future liberties of ñankind. Nor have I now more confidence in its capacity for governing this nation, nor in the wisdom of its practical measures.-Under the anxious and afflicting influence of this conviction ; I should, indeed, _deeply regret, could I believe, that there was one American citizen, more opposed to the measures and doctrines of the administration, or would more readily incur all the responsibilities of such opposition, than myself; whilst at the same time, no American citizen can more truly and completely exempt himself from all invidious feelings towards its individual members.--I care not who reigns, if he be of good report, provided he reigns constitutionally; and reigns not me, and the American people, out of our rights and liberties, given to us by our God, and secured to us, as we once fondly hoped, by the written constitutions of our country.
WILLIAM B. GILES. October 8, 1827,
NOTE.-In August, 1790, I was first elected to the House of Representatives of the United States, for an unexpired term, and was reelected for the ensuing term, during the same year. I was afterwards re-elected without opposition, till the year 1798-On the 2d day of October 1798, I resigned my seat in the House of Representatives of the United States.
In the following December, I was elected to represent the county of Amelia, in the House of Delegates of Virginia, and was re-elected the next year, 1799.
The year after, 1800, I was elected to the House of Representatives of the United States.
In 1803, I declined a re-election. When Mr. Eppes was elected to supply the vacancy.
In August, 1804, I was elected by the Executive Council, to the Senate of the United States, when in retirement at home; and without the least intimation of the intention of the Council to confer that honor upon me,
On the 4th December, 1804, I was elected by the General Assembly for an unexpired term; and on the 7th of the same month, was re