A Speech delivered at a Public Dinner given by a large Number of the Citizens of New York

 (Chancellor Kent in the Chair) in Honor of Mr. Webster, on the 10th of March, 1831.


            I have said, Gentlemen, what I verily believe to be true, that there is no danger to the Union from open and avowed attacks on its essential principles.  Nothing is to be feared from those who will march up boldly to their own propositions, and tell us that they mean to annihilate powers exercised by Congress.  But, certainly, there are dangers to the Constitution, and we ought not to shut our eyes to them.  We know the importance of a firm and intelligent judiciary; but how shall we secure the continuance of a firm and intelligent judiciary?  Gentlemen, the judiciary is in the appointment of the executive power.  It cannot continue or renew itself.  Its vacancies are to be filled in the ordinary modes of executive appointment.  If the time shall ever come (which Heaven avert), when men shall be placed in the supreme tribunal of the country, who entertain opinions hostile to the just powers of the Constitution, we shall then be visited by an evil defying all remedy.  Our case will be past surgery.  From that moment the Constitution is at an end. If they who are appointed to defend the castle shall betray it, woe betide those within!  If I live to see that day come, I shall despair of the country.  I shall be prepared to give it back to all its former afflictions, in the days of the Confederation.  I know no security against the possibility of this evil, but an awakened public vigilance.  I know no safety, but in that state of public opinion which shall lead it to rebuke and put down every attempt, either to gratify party by judicial appointments, or to dilute the Constitution by creating a court which shall construe away its provisions.  If members of Congress betray their trust, the people will find it out before they are ruined.  If the President should at any time violate his duty, his term of office is short, and popular elections may supply a seasonable remedy.  But the judges of the Supreme Court possess, for very good reasons, an independent tenure of office.  No election reaches them.  If, with this tenure, they betray their trusts, Heaven save us!  Let us hope for better results.  The past, certainly, may encourage us.  Let us hope that we shall never see the time when there shall exist such an awkward posture of affairs, as that the government shall be found in opposition to the Constitution, and when the guardians of the Union shall become its betrayers.




                                                                                                            DANIEL WEBSTER.


Well Daniel, we have found that all three branches of government are betraying their trusts and are attacking the Constitution on its essential principles.  We have reached a point even beyond the evil that you could imagine could ever happen; however, it is not yet impossible to reverse the course.