Negligence of its regulations, inattention to its recommendations, if not disobedience to its authority, not only in individuals but in States,
soon appeared with their melancholy consequences_universal languor, jealousies and rivalries of States, decline of navigation and commerce, discouragement of necessary manufactures,
universal fall in the value of lands and their produce, contempt of public and private faith, loss of consideration and credit with foreign nations, and at length in discontents, animosities, combinations, partial conventions, and insurrection, threatening some great national calamity.
In this dangerous crisis the people of America were not abandoned by their usual good sense, presence of mind, resolution, or integrity. Measures were pursued to concert a plan to form a more perfect union, establish justice,
insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty.
The public disquisitions, discussions, and deliberations issued in the present happy Constitution of Government. Returning to the bosom of my country after a painful separation from it for ten years,
I had the honor to be elected to a station under the new order of things, and I have repeatedly laid myself under the most serious obligagions to support the Constitution.
The operation of it has equaled the most sanguine expectations of its friends, and from an habitual attention to it, satisfaction in its administration, and delight in its effects upon the peace, order, prosperity,
and happiness of the nation I have acquired an habitual attachment to it and veneration for it. What other form of government, indeed, can so well deserve our esteem and love?
There may be little solidity in an ancient idea that congregations of men into cities and nations are the most pleasing objects in the sight of superior intelligences, but this is very certain, that to a benevolent human mind there can be no spectacle presented by any nation more pleasing,
more noble, majestic, or august, than an assembly like that which has so often been seen in this and the other Chamber of Congress, of a Government in which the Executive authority, as well as that of all the branches of the Legislature,
are exercised by citizens selected at regular periods by their neighbors to make and execute laws for the general good. Can anything essential, anything more than mere ornament and decoration, be added to this by robes and diamonds?
Can authority be more amiable and respectable when it descends from accidents or institutions established in remote antiquity than when it springs fresh from the hearts and judgments of an honest and enlightened people? For it is the people only that are represented.
It is their power and majesty that is reflected, and only for their good, in every legitimate government, under whatever form it may appear.
The existence of such a government as ours for any length of time is a full proof of a general dissemination of knowledge and virtue throughout the whole body of the people. And what object or consideration more pleasing than this can be presented to the human mind?
If national pride is ever justifiable or excusable it is when it springs, not from power or riches, grandeur or glory, but from conviction of national innocence, information, and benevolence.