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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 2, Debates 483   View pdf image
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Mr. President, if in any thing I have said, there
may be supposed by any, to have been a zeal in
any degree arising from my personal connection
with the office in question, I beg to assure gen-
tlemen, that such a suspicion does great injustice
to my position. I have served in a high judicial
station, for more than seventeen years, with what
success or usefulness, I am the last of all, who
are acquainted with my history, to pronounce.
This I can say—it has been my purpose and de-
sire to discharge the important trust confided to
me, with fidelity and impartially, and to the best
of my poor abilities. I am willing to abide the
verdict of those, who shall come after me, for
the correctness of my judicial life For the honor
altogether unmerited, and the flattering confidence
of my friends and the community, evinced
by placing me in this and other elevated public
stations. I owe a lasting debt of gratitude; a debt
I can never repay. I have always been, and
ever shall be, ready and willing to acknowledge
it. But, as to a mere matter of pecuniary con-
cern—so far as the account of debtor and creditor
is involved—I deny that any balance is justly
chargeable against me. I have returned to the
State, in labor and service, such as I bad con-
tracted to render; the best I have been able to
render; the full value of every dollar I received
I have passed annually most of my days, in tedi-
ous, laborious devotion to my duties; and for a
long succession of nights, have kept my head
from my pillow, at unseasonable hours, in severe
mental effort, to enable me to do more usefully and
faithfully my whole duty. A kind Providence
has possessesed me with a competency to afford
all the comforts of life which my habits require;
and with a better spirit than that which regards
great wealth, as the end and object of human
desire, or the source of human happiness. The
office is one of extreme labor and extreme re-
sponsibility. I have arrived at a period of life
when there is but one consideration to commend
it to my acceptance. I have, from early life,
been an active, working man. Of all things, I
dread a life of indolence. I have seen, on more
occasions than one, the disastrous effect of a sudden
withdrawal from active labor, by men in ad-
vanced life, to enjoy, as they had hoped, a quiet
old age. I have seen it produce discomfort, im-
potency, disease, and premature death. To those
around me yet in younger life, and with less ex-
perience, I venture, a word of advice—Never
cease to exert the faculties of mind or body which
Providence has given you, until the decree of
that same Providence shall deprive you of these
faculties. They are talents given to us, to be
usefully and actively employed; and, if buried,
will rust and decay. But to a man able and wil-
ling to be employed, there are always avenues
open, and there is nothing so attractive in a seat
on your Supreme. Court bench, either as it is now
organized, or will be, under any of the various
provisions before us, as to make it the particular
object of ambition.
So far as concerns my associates, with whom
I have acted so harmoniously, possessing as they
do, (I have no doubt,) and justly possessing, the
confidence and respect of the community; and to
whose elevated intelligence, purity, and devoted
application, I can bear that testimony which
would be endorsed by all who have had the op-
portunity to appreciate their character—I have
only to say, that whatever may be their feelings
or their wishes—and I do not profess to be in-
formed—they are considerations not to be thought
of, in a matter of such vast magnitude as this.
In providing for the interests of a whole commu-
nity, for all time. it is of comparatively small
moment to estimate the effect to he produced up-
on the convenience of half a dozen individuals,
or thrice that number. With regard to mere
party considerations, I am urging a course which,
of necessity for the prevent, and for a long,
long time, must prevent the elevation of those
with whom I have politically been associated, to
any judicial station. This, too, is a minor con-
sideration. One party may be put out, and
another put in, but if the means are devised to
secure good conduct from each, the State is safe,
the rights of the citizen are safe. In a little
time your party men will cease to he such, if you
appoint them with the proper tenure of office;
and without this, you cannot have a good judge
from either party. With this fixed tenure his
party expectations, and his party aspirations are
at an end. and with them, his party feelings.
I am influenced, therefore, by no considerations
of a personal, social, or political descrip-
tion, but from a deep and solemn conviction that
this question should be determined by infinitely
higher and more enduring considerations. The
step proposed to us, if once taken, can never be
retraced, whatever may he the mischiefs it en-
tails upon us. Revolutions never go back. We
have lived happily and safely under our present
system; then why change it? The dangers of a
new system cannot be fully anticipated, obvious
assome of them are; why hazard them? I have
been in States where this change has been made,
and I could tell of some things which might pro-
duce effect; but I will not, because I am unwilling
to he personally unkind, or seem to be so. But I
will say that the result of my experience is, tint
the judiciary has lost the respect of the commu-
nity in the proportion in which it has departed
from this fixed tenure The principle of respect
for the law, in the character of the Anglo-Saxon,
may carry us on well enough for a season, but
this impetus will cease after resistance from dis-
turbing causes. It is like a locomotive. You
may remove the motive power, and the car will
run on for a while; but the resistance from fric-
tion and other causes, will produce a continually
decreasing speed until it comes to a stand still.
Sir, it must be so; these temporary appointees
will lose their character. The loss of that re-
spect which is essential to their usefulness, will
follow; and their ability to be useful, will then
soon be succeeded by a condition of things in
which they will be positively mischievous. It
may not, nay I hope will not occur, Mr. Presi-
dent, in your day or mine; but why should we
gratuitously impose upon our children and our
posterity, a yoke which we cannot, and which I
fear they never can bear ?

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 2, Debates 483   View pdf image
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