The World’s Famous Orations, Vol. 9

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Author: John C. Calhoun  | Date: 1837

Calhoun

I
The Expunging Resolution*
(1837)

But why do I waste my breath? I know it is all utterly vain. The day is gone; night approaches, and night is suitable to the dark deed we meditate. There is a sort of destiny in this thing. The act must be performed; and it is an act which will tell on the political history of this country for ever. Other preceding violations of the Constitution (and they have been many and great) filled my bosom with indignation, but this fills it only with grief. Others were done in the heat of partizanship. Power was, as it were, compelled to support itself by seizing upon new instruments of influence and patronage; and there were ambitious and able men to direct the process. Such was the removal of the deposits, which the president seized upon by a new and unprecedented act of arbitrary power—an act which gave him ample means of rewarding friends and punishing enemies. Something may, perhaps, be pardoned to him in this matter on the old apology of tyrants—the plea of necessity.But here there can be no such apology. Here no necessity can so much as be pretended. This act originates in pure, unmixed, personal idolatry. It is the melancholy evidence of a broken spirit, ready to bow at the feet of power. The former act was such a one as might have been perpetrated in the days of Pompey or Caesar; but an act like this could never have been consummated by a Roman Senate until the times of Caligula and Nero.

*From a speech in the United States Senate in January, 1837. For Benton’s speech on the same subject and the purport of the resolution, see volume eight.

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Chicago: John C. Calhoun, "I. The Expunging Resolution (1837)," The World’s Famous Orations, Vol. 9 in The World’s Famous Orations, ed. William Jennings Bryan (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, December, 1906), 108. Original Sources, accessed April 24, 2024, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=MS1LIZPAM7Z2E11.

MLA: Calhoun, John C. "I. The Expunging Resolution (1837)." The World’s Famous Orations, Vol. 9, in The World’s Famous Orations, edited by William Jennings Bryan, Vol. 9, New York, Funk and Wagnalls, December, 1906, page 108. Original Sources. 24 Apr. 2024. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=MS1LIZPAM7Z2E11.

Harvard: Calhoun, JC, 'I. The Expunging Resolution (1837)' in The World’s Famous Orations, Vol. 9. cited in December, 1906, The World’s Famous Orations, ed. , Funk and Wagnalls, New York, pp.108. Original Sources, retrieved 24 April 2024, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=MS1LIZPAM7Z2E11.