New York senate reply to Daniel D. Tompkins, c23 February 1816
Legislature of New-York.
answer to the governor's speech reported by mr. van buren
To his Excellency Daniel D. Tompkins, Governor of the State of New-York.
THE Senate reciprocate with your Excellency their congratulations on the restoration of peace—They unite in the ascription of it to that overruling Providence which has hitherto preserved our country from the effects of foreign violence and intestine commotion, and they return their heart-felt thanks for the distinguished blessing.
While they sympathise with those of their fellow-citizens on whom the sufferings and deprivations incident to a state of hostilities have fallen with peculiar force, they cannot too strongly express the proud satisfaction they derive from the reflection, that the war in which the nation has been involved, arduous and sanguinary as it has been, was not only righteous in its origin, and successful in its prosecution, but that our country has arisen from the contest with renovated strength and increased glory.
Among the advantages which have resulted to our country from the late war, your Excellency has justly referred to the elevations of our national character, and to our increased confidence in the efficacy and stability of our political institutions—While the former is to the nation wealth, strength and the source of happiness, the latter is the sheet anchor of their hopes, and emphatically the palladium of their liberties.
The Senate have observed the speculations on the nature of our government, of which your excellency speaks, with mixed sensations of regret and displeasure; of regret, when they found them proceeding from honest minds whose fearful forebodings and timid apprehensions were calculated to produce the evils they deprecated—of displeasure, when they found in them the evidence of an active but concealed hostility to a form of government, the alledged imbecility of which they affected to deplore. But whatever may have been their source, or whatever their motive, the Senate, equally with your Excellency, rejoice that by the course and character of the late contest, their fallacy has been fully established, and the arrogant, the degrading and demoralising assumption, that man is incapable of self-government, incontestibly refuted.
The encomiums bestowed by your Excellency, on the conduct of our land and naval forces, are just and merited—The army has, by its signal valor and fortitude, obtained for itself a character honorable to them and gratifying to the nation: and the American sailor is an object of admiration every where. The days of their humiliation are without doubt numbered, and we may look forward with strong confidence to their future fame.
It cannot be doubted, sir, that the sacrifices and sufferings of our brave troops, will command the earliest attention of the national legislature; for that government and people who can look with indifference on the soldier's scars, or turn a deaf ear to the veteran's wants, can never become great, or long remain free.
The Senate have listened to the suggestions of your Excellency on the baleful effects of the spirit of party, with the consideration which was due to the source from whence they proceeded, and with the feeling which a painful conviction of their justice is calculated to inspire—They had hoped that that violent party-spirit, those series of criminations and recriminations which have at times distracted our public councils, paralysed the public arm, and poisoned the sources of social intercourse, could only exist in time of peace—That when the country was at war, every feeling and every sentiment would be exclusively directed to the support of the constituted authorities. How far this reasonable expectation has been realised, or how far that spirit, the excess of which your Excellency so justly deprecates, has jeopardised the best interests of the country, are questions, the present discussion of which the Senate are willing to avoid—With feelings of liberal indulgence for the past, they are willing to unite their best efforts for the improvement of the future.
The various other subjects to which the attention of the Senate has been called by your Excellency, will receive their prompt and assiduous attention.
The active, useful and patriotic labors of your Excellency; during the late arduous struggle in which the country has been involved, render their acknowledgment by the Senate an act both of justice and of duty—It is therefore with great satisfaction that the Senate embrace this opportunity, in behalf of their constituents and for themselves, to express the high sense they entertain of the disinterested zeal, the great ability, and the persevering and successful industry which your Excellency has manifested during the most difficult and trying periods of the late war.