The Great Speeches and Orations of Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster

Part 9 out of 25

White's yard between three and four o'clock in the morning, he answered,
Frank Knapp. It is not clear that this is not true. There may be many
circumstances of importance connected with this, though we believe the
murder to have been committed between ten and eleven o'clock. The letter
to Dr. Barstow states it to have been done about eleven o'clock; it
states it to have been done with a blow on the head, from a weapon
loaded with lead. Here is too great a correspondence with the reality
not to have some meaning in it. Dr. Peirson was always of the opinion,
that the two classes of wounds were made with different instruments, and
by different hands. It is possible that one class was inflicted at one
time, and the other at another. It is possible that on the last visit
the pulse might not have entirely ceased to beat, and then the finishing
stroke was given. It is said, that, when the body was discovered, some
of the wounds wept, while the others did not. They may have been
inflicted from mere wantonness. It was known that Captain White was
accustomed to keep specie by him in his chamber; this perhaps may
explain the last visit. It is proved, that this defendant was in the
habit of retiring to bed, and leaving it afterwards, without the
knowledge of his family; perhaps he did so on this occasion. We see no
reason to doubt the fact; and it does not shake our belief that the
murder was committed early in the night.

What are the probabilities as to the time of the murder? Mr. White was
an aged man; he usually retired to bed at about half-past nine. He slept
soundest in the early part of the night; usually awoke in the middle and
latter part; and his habits were perfectly well known. When would
persons, with a knowledge of these facts, be most likely to approach
him? Most certainly, in the first hour of his sleep. This would be the
safest time. If seen then going to or from the house, the appearance
would be least suspicious. The earlier hour would then have been most
probably selected.

Gentlemen, I shall dwell no longer on the evidence which tends to prove
that there was a conspiracy, and that the prisoner was a conspirator.
All the circumstances concur to make out this point. Not only Palmer
swears to it, in effect, and Leighton, but Allen mainly supports Palmer,
and Osborn's books lend confirmation, so far as possible, from such a
source. Palmer is contradicted in nothing, either by any other witness,
or any proved circumstance or occurrence. Whatever could be expected to
support him does support him. All the evidence clearly manifests, I
think, that there was a conspiracy; that it originated with Joseph
Knapp; that defendant became a party to it, and was one of its
conductors, from first to last. One of the most powerful circumstances
is Palmer's letter from Belfast. The amount of this is a direct charge
on the Knapps of the authorship of this murder. How did they treat this
charge; like honest men, or like guilty men? We have seen how it was
treated. Joseph Knapp fabricated letters, charging another person, and
caused them to be put into the post-office.

I shall now proceed on the supposition, that it is proved that there was
a conspiracy to murder Mr. White, and that the prisoner was party to it.

The second and the material inquiry is, Was the prisoner present at the
murder, aiding and abetting therein?

This leads to the legal question in the case. What does the law mean,
when it says, that, in order to charge him as a principal, "he must be
present aiding and abetting in the murder"?

In the language of the late Chief Justice, "It is not required that the
abettor shall be actually upon the spot when the murder is committed, or
even in sight of the more immediate perpetrator of the victim, to make
him a principal. If he be at a distance, co-operating in the act, by
watching to prevent relief, or to give an alarm, or to assist his
confederate in escape, having knowledge of the purpose and object of the
assassin, this in the eye of the law is being present, aiding and
abetting, so as to make him a principal in the murder."

"If he be at a distance co-operating." This is not a distance to be
measured by feet or rods; if the intent to lend aid combine with a
knowledge that the murder is to be committed, and the person so
intending be so situate that he can by any possibility lend this aid in
any manner, then he is present in legal contemplation. He need not lend
any actual aid; to be ready to assist is assisting.

There are two sorts of murder; the distinction between them it is of
essential importance to bear in mind: 1. Murder in an affray, or upon
sudden and unexpected provocation. 2. Murder secretly, with a
deliberate, predetermined intention to commit the crime. Under the first
class, the question usually is, whether the offence be murder or
manslaughter, in the person who commits the deed. Under the second
class, it is often a question whether others than he who actually did
the deed were present, aiding and assisting therein. Offences of this
kind ordinarily happen when there is nobody present except those who go
on the same design. If a riot should happen in the court-house, and one
should kill another, this may be murder, or it may not, according to the
intention with which it was done; which is always matter of fact, to be
collected from the circumstances at the time. But in secret murders,
premeditated and determined on, there can be no doubt of the murderous
intention; there can be no doubt, if a person be present, knowing a
murder is to be done, of his concurring in the act. His being there is a
proof of his intent to aid and abet; else, why is he there?

It has been contended, that proof must be given that the person accused
did actually afford aid, did lend a hand in the murder itself; and
without this proof, although he may be near by, he may be presumed to be
there for an innocent purpose; he may have crept silently there to hear
the news, or from mere curiosity to see what was going on.[2]
Preposterous, absurd! Such an idea shocks all common sense. A man is
found to be a conspirator to commit a murder; he has planned it; he has
assisted in arranging the time, the place and the means; and he is found
in the place, and at the time, and yet it is suggested that he might
have been there, not for co-operation and concurrence, but from
curiosity! Such an argument deserves no answer. It would be difficult to
give it one, in decorous terms. Is it not to be taken for granted, that
a man seeks to accomplish his own purposes? When he has planned a
murder, and is present at its execution, is he there to forward or to
thwart his own design? is he there to assist, or there to prevent? But
"Curiosity"! He may be there from mere "curiosity"! Curiosity to witness
the success of the execution of his own plan of murder! The very walls
of a court-house ought not to stand, the ploughshare should run through
the ground it stands on, where such an argument could find

It is not necessary that the abettor should actually lend a hand, that
he should take a part in the act itself; if he be present ready to
assist, that is assisting. Some of the doctrines advanced would acquit
the defendant, though he had gone to the bedchamber of the deceased,
though he had been standing by when the assassin gave the blow. This is
the argument we have heard to-day.

The court here said, they did not so understand the argument of the
counsel for defendant. Mr. Dexter said, "The intent and power alone
must co-operate."

No doubt the law is, that being ready to assist is assisting, if the
party has the power to assist, in case of need. It is so stated by
Foster, who is a high authority. "If A happeneth to be present at a
murder, for instance, and taketh no part in it, nor endeavoreth to
prevent it, nor apprehendeth the murderer, nor levyeth hue and cry after
him, this strange behavior of his, though highly criminal, will not of
itself render him either principal or accessory." "But if a fact
amounting to murder should be committed in prosecution of some unlawful
purpose, though it were but a bare trespass, to which A in the case last
stated had consented, and he had gone in order to give assistance, if
need were, for carrying it into execution, this would have amounted to
murder in him, and in every person present and joining with him." "If
the fact was committed in prosecution of the original purpose which was
unlawful, the whole party will be involved in the guilt of him who gave
the blow. For in combinations of this kind, the mortal stroke, though
given by one of the party, is considered in the eye of the law, and of
sound reason too, as given by every individual present and abetting. The
person actually giving the stroke is no more than the hand or instrument
by which the others strike." The author, in speaking of being present,
means actual presence; not actual in opposition to constructive, for the
law knows no such distinction. There is but one presence, and this is
the situation from which aid, or supposed aid, may be rendered. The law
does not say where the person is to go, or how near he is to go, but
that he must be where he may give assistance, or where the perpetrator
may believe that he may be assisted by him. Suppose that he is
acquainted with the design of the murderer, and has a knowledge of the
time when it is to be carried into effect, and goes out with a view to
render assistance, if need be; why, then, even though the murderer does
not know of this, the person so going out will be an abettor in the

It is contended that the prisoner at the bar could not be a principal,
he being in Brown Street, because he could not there render assistance;
and you are called upon to determine this case, according as you may be
of opinion whether Brown Street was, or was not, a suitable, convenient,
well-chosen place to aid in this murder. This is not the true question.
The inquiry is not whether you would have selected this place in
preference to all others, or whether you would have selected it at all.
If the parties chose it, why should we doubt about it? How do we know
the use they intended to make of it, or the kind of aid that he was to
afford by being there? The question for you to consider is, Did the
defendant go into Brown Street in aid of this murder? Did he go there by
agreement, by appointment with the perpetrator?[4] If so, every thing
else follows. The main thing, indeed the only thing, is to inquire
whether he was in Brown Street by appointment with Richard
Crowninshield. It might be to keep general watch; to observe the lights,
and advise as to time of access; to meet the murderer on his return, to
advise him as to his escape; to examine his clothes, to see if any marks
of blood were upon them; to furnish exchange of clothes, or new
disguise, if necessary; to tell him through what streets he could safely
retreat, or whether he could deposit the club in the place designed; or
it might be without any distinct object, but merely to afford that
encouragement which would proceed from Richard Crowninshield's
consciousness that he was near. It is of no consequence whether, in your
opinion, the place was well chosen or not, to afford aid; if it was so
chosen, if it was by appointment that he was there, it is enough.
Suppose Richard Crowninshield, when applied to to commit the murder, had
said, "I won't do it unless there can be some one near by to favor my
escape; I won't go unless you will stay in Brown Street." Upon the
gentleman's argument, he would not be an aider and abettor in the
murder, because the place was not well chosen; though it is apparent
that the being in the place chosen was a condition, without which the
murder would never have happened.

You are to consider the defendant as one in the league, in the
combination to commit the murder. If he was there by appointment with
the perpetrator, he is an abettor. The concurrence of the perpetrator in
his being there is proved by the previous evidence of the conspiracy. If
Richard Crowninshield, for any purpose whatsoever, made it a condition
of the agreement, that Frank Knapp should stand as backer, then Frank
Knapp was an aider and abettor; no matter what the aid was, or what sort
it was, or degree, be it ever so little; even if it were to judge of the
hour when it was best to go, or to see when the lights were
extinguished, or to give an alarm if any one approached. Who better
calculated to judge of these things than the murderer himself? and if he
so determined them, that is sufficient.

Now as to the facts. Frank Knapp knew that the murder was that night to
be committed; he was one of the conspirators, he knew the object, he
knew the time. He had that day been to Wenham to see Joseph, and
probably to Danvers to see Richard Crowninshield, for he kept his
motions secret. He had that day hired a horse and chaise of Osborn, and
attempted to conceal the purpose for which it was used; he had
intentionally left the _place_ and the _price_ blank on Osborn's books.
He went to Wenham by the way of Danvers; he had been told the week
before to hasten Dick; he had seen the Crowninshields several times
within a few days; he had a saddle-horse the Saturday night before; he
had seen Mrs. Beckford at Wenham, and knew she would not return that
night. She had not been away before for six weeks, and probably would
not soon be again. He had just come from Wenham. Every day, for the week
previous, he had visited one or another of these conspirators, save
Sunday, and then probably he saw them in town. When he saw Joseph on the
6th, Joseph had prepared the house, and would naturally tell him of it;
there were constant communications between them; daily and nightly
visitation; too much knowledge of these parties and this transaction, to
leave a particle of doubt on the mind of any one, that Frank Knapp knew
the murder was to be committed this night. The hour was come, and he
knew it; if so, and he was in Brown Street, without explaining why he
was there, can the jury for a moment doubt whether he was there to
countenance, aid, or support; or for curiosity alone; or to learn how
the wages of sin and death were earned by the perpetrator?

Here Mr. Webster read the law from Hawkins. 1 Hawk. 204, Lib. 1,
ch. 32 sec. 7.

The perpetrator would derive courage, and strength, and confidence, from
the knowledge that one of his associates was near by. If he was in Brown
Street, he could have been there for no other purpose. If there for this
purpose, then he was, in the language of the law, _present_, aiding and
abetting in the murder.

His interest lay in being somewhere else. If he had nothing to do with
the murder, no part to act, why not stay at home? Why should he jeopard
his own life, if it was not agreed that he should be there? He would not
voluntarily go where the very place would cause him to swing if
detected. He would not voluntarily assume the place of danger. His
taking this place proves that he went to give aid. His staying away
would have made an _alibi_. If he had nothing to do with the murder, he
would be at home, where he could prove his _alibi_. He knew he was in
danger, because he was guilty of the conspiracy, and, if he had nothing
to do, would not expose himself to suspicion or detection.

Did the prisoner at the bar countenance this murder? Did he concur, or
did he non-concur, in what the perpetrator was about to do? Would he
have tried to shield him? Would he have furnished his cloak for
protection? Would he have pointed out a safe way of retreat? As you
would answer these questions, so you should answer the general question,
whether he was there consenting to the murder, or whether he was there
as a spectator only.

One word more on this presence, called constructive presence. What aid
is to be rendered? Where is the line to be drawn, between acting, and
omitting to act? Suppose he had been in the house, suppose he had
followed the perpetrator to the chamber, what could he have done? This
was to be a murder by stealth; it was to be a secret assassination. It
was not their purpose to have an open combat; they were to approach
their victim unawares, and silently give the fatal blow. But if he had
been in the chamber, no one can doubt that he would have been an
abettor; because of his presence, and ability to render services, if
needed. What service could he have rendered, if there? Could he have
helped him to fly? Could he have aided the silence of his movements?
Could he have facilitated his retreat, on the first alarm? Surely, this
was a case where there was more of safety in going alone than with
another; where company would only embarrass. Richard Crowninshield would
prefer to go alone. He knew his errand too well. His nerves needed no
collateral support. He was not the man to take with him a trembling
companion. He would prefer to have his aid at a distance. He would not
wish to be encumbered by his presence. He would prefer to have him out
of the house. He would prefer that he should be in Brown Street. But
whether in the chamber, in the house, in the garden, or in the street,
whatsoever is aiding in _actual presence_ is aiding in _constructive
presence_; any thing that is aid in one case is aid in the other.[5]

If, then, the aid be anywhere, so as to embolden the perpetrator, to
afford him hope or confidence in his enterprise, it is the same as
though the person stood at his elbow with his sword drawn. His being
there ready to act, with the power to act, is what makes him an abettor.

Here Mr. Webster referred to the cases of Kelly, of Hyde, and
others, cited by counsel for the defendant, and showed that they
did not militate with the doctrine for which he contended. The
difference is, in those cases there was open violence; this was a
case of secret assassination. The aid must meet the occasion. Here
no _acting_ was necessary, but watching, concealment of escape,

What are the _facts_ in relation to this presence? Frank Knapp is proved
to have been a conspirator, proved to have known that the deed was now
to be done. Is it not probable that he was in Brown Street to concur in
the murder? There were four conspirators. It was natural that some one
of them should go with the perpetrator. Richard Crowninshield was to be
the perpetrator; he was to give the blow. There is no evidence of any
casting of the parts for the others. The defendant would probably be the
man to take the second part. He was fond of exploits, he was accustomed
to the use of sword-canes and dirks. If any aid was required, he was the
man to give it. At least, there is no evidence to the contrary of this.

Aid could not have been received from Joseph Knapp, or from George
Crowninshield. Joseph Knapp was at Wenham, and took good care to prove
that he was there. George Crowninshield has proved satisfactorily where
he was; that he was in other company, such as it was, until eleven
o'clock. This narrows the inquiry. This demands of the prisoner to show,
if he was not in this place, where he was. It calls on him loudly to
show this, and to show it truly. If he could show it, he would do it. If
he does not tell, and that truly, it is against him. The defence of an
_alibi_ is a double-edged sword. He knew that he was in a situation
where he might be called upon to account for himself. If he had had no
particular appointment or business to attend to, he would have taken
care to be able so to account. He would have been out of town, or in
some good company. Has he accounted for himself on that night to your

The prisoner has attempted to prove an _alibi_ in two ways. In the
first place, by four young men with whom he says he was in company, on
the evening of the murder, from seven o'clock till near ten o'clock.
This depends upon the certainty of the night. In the second place, by
his family, from ten o'clock afterwards. This depends upon the certainty
of the time of the night. These two classes of proof have no connection
with each other. One may be true, and the other false; or they may both
be true, or both be false. I shall examine this testimony with some
attention, because, on a former trial, it made more impression on the
minds of the court than on my own mind. I think, when carefully sifted
and compared, it will be found to have in it more of plausibility than

Mr. Page testifies, that on the evening of the 6th of April he was in
company with Burchmore, Balch, and Forrester, and that he met the
defendant about seven o'clock, near the Salem Hotel; that he afterwards
met him at Remond's, about nine o'clock, and that he was in company with
him a considerable part of the evening. This young gentleman is a member
of college, and says that he came to town the Saturday evening previous;
that he is now able to say that it was the night of the murder when he
walked with Frank Knapp, from the recollection of the fact, that he
called himself to an account, on the morning after the murder, as it is
natural for men to do when an extraordinary occurrence happens.
Gentlemen, this kind of evidence is not satisfactory; general
impressions as to time are not to be relied on. If I were called on to
state the particular day on which any witness testified in this cause, I
could not do it. Every man will notice the same thing in his own mind.
There is no one of these young men that could give an account of himself
for any _other_ day in the month of April. They are made to remember the
fact, and then they think they remember the time. The witness has no
means of knowing it was Tuesday rather than any other time. He did not
know it at first; he could not know it afterwards. He says he called
himself to an account. This has no more to do with the murder than with
the man in the moon. Such testimony is not worthy to be relied on in any
forty-shilling cause. What occasion had he to call himself to an
account? Did he suppose that he should be suspected? Had he any
intimation of this conspiracy?

Suppose, Gentlemen, you were either of you asked where you were, or what
you were doing, on the fifteenth day of June; you could not answer this
question without calling to mind some events to make it certain. Just as
well may you remember on what you dined each day of the year past. Time
is identical. Its subdivisions are all alike. No man knows one day from
another, or one hour from another, but by some fact connected with it.
Days and hours are not visible to the senses, nor to be apprehended and
distinguished by the understanding. The flow of time is known only by
something which marks it; and he who speaks of the date of occurrences
with nothing to guide his recollection speaks at random, and is not to
be relied on. This young gentleman remembers the facts and occurrences;
he knows nothing why they should not have happened on the evening of the
6th; but he knows no more. All the rest is evidently conjecture or

Mr. White informs you, that he told him he could not tell what night it
was. The first thoughts are all that are valuable in such case. They
miss the mark by taking second aim.

Mr. Balch believes, but is not sure, that he was with Frank Knapp on the
evening of the murder. He has given different accounts of the time. He
has no means of making it certain. All he knows is, that it was some
evening before Fast-day. But whether Monday, Tuesday, or Saturday, he
cannot tell.

Mr. Burchmore says, to the best of his belief, it was the evening of the
murder. Afterwards he attempts to speak positively, from recollecting
that he mentioned the circumstance to William Peirce, as he went to the
Mineral Spring on Fast-day. Last Monday morning he told Colonel Putnam
he could not fix the time. This witness stands in a much worse plight
than either of the others. It is difficult to reconcile all he has said
with any belief in the accuracy of his recollections.

Mr. Forrester does not speak with any certainty as to the night; and it
is very certain that he told Mr. Loring and others, that he did not know
what night it was.

Now, what does the testimony of these four young men amount to? The only
circumstance by which they approximate to an identifying of the night
is, that three of them say it was cloudy; they think their walk was
either on Monday or Tuesday evening, and it is admitted that Monday
evening was clear, whence they draw the inference that it must have been

But, fortunately, there is one _fact_ disclosed in their testimony that
settles the question. Balch says, that on the evening, whenever it was,
he saw the prisoner; the prisoner told him he was going out of town on
horseback, for a distance of about twenty minutes' drive, and that he
was going to get a horse at Osborn's. This was about seven o'clock. At
about nine, Balch says he saw the prisoner again, and was then told by
him that he had had his ride, and had returned. Now it appears by
Osborn's books, that the prisoner had a saddle-horse from his stable,
not on Tuesday evening, the night of the murder, but on the Saturday
evening previous. This fixes the time about which these young men
testify, and is a complete answer and refutation of the attempted
_alibi_ on Tuesday evening.

I come now to speak of the testimony adduced by the defendant to explain
where he was after ten o'clock on the night of the murder. This comes
chiefly from members of the family; from his father and brothers.

It is agreed that the affidavit of the prisoner should be received as
evidence of what his brother, Samuel H. Knapp, would testify if present.
Samuel H. Knapp says, that, about ten minutes past ten o'clock, his
brother, Frank Knapp, on his way to bed, opened his chamber door, made
some remarks, closed the door, and went to his chamber; and that he did
not hear him leave it afterwards. How is this witness able to fix the
time at ten minutes past ten? There is no circumstance mentioned by
which he fixes it. He had been in bed, probably asleep, and was aroused
from his sleep by the opening of the door. Was he in a situation to
speak of time with precision? Could he know, under such circumstances,
whether it was ten minutes past ten, or ten minutes before eleven, when
his brother spoke to him? What would be the natural result in such a
case? But we are not left to conjecture this result. We have positive
testimony on this point. Mr. Webb tells you that Samuel told him, on the
8th of June, "that he did not know what time his brother Frank came
home, and that he was not at home when _he_ went to bed." You will
consider this testimony of Mr. Webb as indorsed upon this affidavit; and
with this indorsement upon it, you will give it its due weight. This
statement was made to him after Frank was arrested.

I come to the testimony of the father. I find myself incapable of
speaking of him or his testimony with severity. Unfortunate old man!
Another Lear, in the conduct of his children; another Lear, I apprehend,
in the effect of his distress upon his mind and understanding. He is
brought here to testify, under circumstances that disarm severity, and
call loudly for sympathy. Though it is impossible not to see that his
story cannot be credited, yet I am unable to speak of him otherwise than
in sorrow and grief. Unhappy father! he strives to remember, perhaps
persuades himself that he does remember, that on the evening of the
murder he was himself at home at ten o'clock. He thinks, or seems to
think, that his son came in at about five minutes past ten. He fancies
that he remembers his conversation; he thinks he spoke of bolting the
door; he thinks he asked the time of night; he seems to remember his
then going to his bed. Alas! these are but the swimming fancies of an
agitated and distressed mind. Alas! they are but the dreams of hope, its
uncertain lights, flickering on the thick darkness of parental distress.
Alas! the miserable father knows nothing, in reality, of all these

Mr. Shepard says that the first conversation he had with Mr. Knapp was
soon after the murder, and _before_ the arrest of his sons. Mr. Knapp
says it was _after_ the arrest of his sons. His own fears led him to say
to Mr. Shepard, that his "son Frank was at home that night; and so
Phippen told him," or "as Phippen told him." Mr. Shepard says that he
was struck with the remark at the time; that it made an unfavorable
impression on his mind; he does not tell you what that impression was,
but when you connect it with the previous inquiry he had made, whether
Frank had continued to associate with the Crowninshields, and recollect
that the Crowninshields were then known to be suspected of this crime,
can you doubt what this impression was? can you doubt as to the fears he
then had?

This poor old man tells you, that he was greatly perplexed at the time;
that he found himself in embarrassed circumstances; that on this very
night he was engaged in making an assignment of his property to his
friend, Mr. Shepard. If ever charity should furnish a mantle for error,
it should be here. Imagination cannot picture a more deplorable,
distressed condition.

The same general remarks may be applied to his conversation with Mr.
Treadwell, as have been made upon that with Mr. Shepard. He told him,
that he believed Frank was at home about the usual time. In his
conversations with either of these persons, he did not pretend to know,
of his own knowledge, the time that he came home. He now tells you
positively that he recollects the time, and that he so told Mr. Shepard.
He is directly contradicted by both these witnesses, as respectable men
as Salem affords.

This idea of an _alibi_ is of recent origin. Would Samuel Knapp have
gone to sea if it were then thought of? His testimony, if true, was too
important to be lost. If there be any truth in this part of the _alibi_,
it is so near in point or time that it cannot be relied on. The mere
variation of half an hour would avoid it. The mere variations of
different timepieces would explain it.

Has the defendant proved where he was on that night? If you doubt about
it, there is an end of it. The burden is upon him to satisfy you beyond
all reasonable doubt. Osborn's books, in connection with what the young
men state, are conclusive, I think, on this point. He has not, then,
accounted for himself; he has attempted it, and has failed. I pray you
to remember, Gentlemen, that this is a case in which the prisoner would,
more than any other, be rationally able to account for himself on the
night of the murder, if he could do so. He was in the conspiracy, he
knew the murder was then to be committed, and if he himself was to have
no hand in its actual execution, he would of course, as a matter of
safety and precaution, be somewhere else, and be able to prove
afterwards that he had been somewhere else. Having this motive to prove
himself elsewhere, and the power to do it if he were elsewhere, his
failing in such proof must necessarily leave a very strong inference
against him.

But, Gentlemen, let us now consider what is the evidence produced on the
part of the government to prove that John Francis Knapp, the prisoner at
the bar, was in Brown Street on the night of the murder. This is a point
of vital importance in this cause. Unless this be made out, beyond
reasonable doubt, the law of _presence_ does not apply to the case. The
government undertake to prove that he was present aiding in the murder,
by proving that he was in Brown Street for this purpose. Now, what are
the undoubted facts? They are, that two persons were seen in that
street, several times during that evening, under suspicious
circumstances; under such circumstances as induced those who saw them to
watch their movements. Of this there can be no doubt. Mirick saw a man
standing at the post opposite his store from fifteen minutes before nine
until twenty minutes after, dressed in a full frock-coat, glazed cap,
and so forth, in size and general appearance answering to the prisoner
at the bar. This person was waiting there; and whenever any one
approached him, he moved to and from the corner, as though he would
avoid being suspected or recognized. Afterwards, two persons were seen
by Webster, walking in Howard Street, with a slow, deliberate movement
that attracted his attention. This was about half-past nine. One of
these he took to be the prisoner at the bar, the other he did not know.

About half-past ten a person is seen sitting on the rope-walk steps,
wrapped in a cloak. He drops his head when passed, to avoid being known.
Shortly after, two persons are seen to meet in this street, without
ceremony or salutation, and in a hurried manner to converse for a short
time; then to separate, and run off with great speed. Now, on this same
night a gentleman is slain, murdered in his bed, his house being entered
by stealth from without; and his house situated within three hundred
feet of this street. The windows of his chamber were in plain sight from
this street; a weapon of death is afterwards found in a place where
these persons were seen to pass, in a retired place, around which they
had been seen lingering. It is now known that this murder was committed
by four persons, conspiring together for this purpose. No account is
given who these suspected persons thus seen in Brown Street and its
neighborhood were. Now, I ask, Gentlemen, whether you or any man can
doubt that this murder was committed by the persons who were thus in and
about Brown Street. Can any person doubt that they were there for
purposes connected with this murder? If not for this purpose, what were
they there for? When there is a cause so near at hand, why wander into
conjecture for an explanation? Common-sense requires you to take the
nearest adequate cause for a known effect. Who were these suspicious
persons in Brown Street? There was something extraordinary about them;
something noticeable, and noticed at the time; something in their
appearance that aroused suspicion. And a man is found the next morning
murdered in the near vicinity.

Now, so long as no other account shall be given of those suspicious
persons, so long the inference must remain irresistible that they were
the murderers. Let it be remembered, that it is already shown that this
murder was the result of conspiracy and of concert; let it be
remembered, that the house, having been opened from within, was entered
by stealth from without. Let it be remembered that Brown Street, where
these persons were repeatedly seen under such suspicious circumstances,
was a place from which every occupied room in Mr. White's house is
clearly seen; let it be remembered, that the place, though thus very
near to Mr. White's house, is a retired and lonely place; and let it be
remembered that the instrument of death was afterwards found concealed
very near the same spot.

Must not every man come to the conclusion, that these persons thus seen
in Brown Street were the murderers? Every man's own judgment, I think,
must satisfy him that this must be so. It is a plain deduction of common
sense. It is a point on which each one of you may reason like a Hale or
a Mansfield. The two occurrences explain each other. The murder shows
why these persons were thus lurking, at that hour, in Brown Street; and
their lurking in Brown Street shows who committed the murder.

If, then, the persons in and about Brown Street were the plotters and
executers of the murder of Captain White, we know who they were, and you
know that _there_ is one of them.

This fearful concatenation of circumstances puts him to an account. He
was a conspirator. He had entered into this plan of murder. The murder
is committed, and he is known to have been within three minutes' walk of
the place. He must account for himself, He has attempted this, and
failed. Then, with all these general reasons to show he was actually in
Brown Street, and his failures in his _alibi_, let us see what is the
direct proof of his being there. But first, let me ask, is it not very
remarkable that there is no attempt to show where Richard Crowninshield,
Jr. was on that night? We hear nothing of him. He was seen in none of
his usual haunts about the town. Yet, if he was the actual perpetrator
of the murder, which nobody doubts, he was in the town somewhere. Can
you, therefore, entertain a doubt that he was one of the persons seen in
Brown Street? And as to the prisoner, you will recollect, that, since
the testimony of the young men has failed to show where he was on that
evening, the last we hear or know of him, on the day preceding the
murder, is, that at four o'clock, P.M., he was at his brother's in
Wenham. He had left home, after dinner, in a manner doubtless designed
to avoid observation, and had gone to Wenham, probably by way of
Danvers. As we hear nothing of him after four o'clock, P.M., for the
remainder of the day and evening; as he was one of the conspirators; as
Richard Crowninshield, Jr. was another; as Richard Crowninshield, Jr.
was in town in the evening, and yet seen in no usual place of
resort,--the inference is very fair, that Richard Crowninshield, Jr. and
the prisoner were together, acting in execution of their conspiracy. Of
the four conspirators, J.J. Knapp, Jr. was at Wenham, and George
Crowninshield has been accounted for; so that if the persons seen in
Brown Street were the murderers, one of them must have been Richard
Crowninshield, Jr., and the other must have been the prisoner at the

Now, as to the proof of his identity with one of the persons seen in
Brown Street, Mr. Mirick, a cautious witness, examined the person he
saw, closely, in a light night, and says that he thinks the prisoner at
the bar is the person; and that he should not hesitate at all, if he
were seen in the same dress. His opinion is formed partly from his own
observation, and partly from the description of others. But this
description turns out to be only in regard to the dress. It is said,
that he is now more confident than on the former trial. If he has varied
in his testimony make such allowance as you may think proper. I do not
perceive any material variance. He thought him the same person, when he
was first brought to court, and as he saw him get out of the chaise.
This is one of the cases in which a witness is permitted to give an
opinion. This witness is as honest as yourselves, neither willing nor
swift; but he says, he believes it was the man. His words are, "This is
my opinion "; and this opinion it is proper for him to give. If partly
founded on what he has _heard_, then this opinion is not to be taken;
but if on what he _saw_, then you can have no better evidence. I lay no
stress on similarity of dress. No man will ever lose his life by my
voice on such evidence. But then it is proper to notice, that no
inferences drawn from any _dissimilarity_ of dress can be given in the
prisoner's favor; because, in fact, the person seen by Mirick was
dressed like the prisoner.

The description of the person seen by Mirick answers to that of the
prisoner at the bar. In regard to the supposed discrepancy of
statements, before and now, there would be no end to such minute
inquiries. It would not be strange if witnesses should vary. I do not
think much of slight shades of variation. If I believe the witness is
honest, that is enough. If he has expressed himself more strongly now
than then, this does not prove him false.

Peter E. Webster saw the prisoner at the bar, as he then thought, and
still thinks, walking in Howard Street at half-past nine o'clock. He
then thought it was Frank Knapp, and has not altered his opinion since.
He knew him well; he had long known him. If he then thought it was he,
this goes far to prove it. He observed him the more, as it was unusual
to see gentlemen walk there at that hour. It was a retired, lonely
street. Now, is there reasonable doubt that Mr. Webster did see him
there that night? How can you have more proof than this? He judged by
his walk, by his general appearance, by his deportment. We all judge in
this manner. If you believe he is right, it goes a great way in this
case. But then this person, it is said, had a cloak on, and that he
could not, therefore, be the same person that Mirick saw. If we were
treating of men that had no occasion to disguise themselves or their
conduct, there might be something in this argument. But as it is, there
is little in it. It may be presumed that they would change their dress.
This would help their disguise. What is easier than to throw off a
cloak, and again put it on? Perhaps he was less fearful of being known
when alone, than when with the perpetrator.

Mr. Southwick swears all that a man can swear. He has the best means of
judging that could be had at the time. He tells you that he left his
father's house at half-past ten o'clock, and as he passed to his own
house in Brown Street he saw a man sitting on the steps of the
rope-walk; that he passed him three times, and each time he held down
his head, so that he did not see his face. That the man had on a cloak,
which was not wrapped around him, and a glazed cap. That he took the man
to be Frank Knapp at the time; that, when he went into his house, he
told his wife that he thought it was Frank Knapp; that he knew him well,
having known him from a boy. And his wife swears that he did so tell her
when he came home. What could mislead this witness at the time? He was
not then suspecting Frank Knapp of any thing. He could not then be
influenced by any prejudice. If you believe that the witness saw Frank
Knapp in this position at this time, it proves the case. Whether you
believe it or not depends upon the credit of the witness. He swears it.
If true, it is solid evidence. Mrs. Southwick supports her husband. Are
they true? Are they worthy of belief? If he deserves the epithets
applied to him, then he ought not to be believed. In this fact they
cannot be mistaken; they are right, or they are perjured. As to his not
speaking to Frank Knapp, that depends upon their intimacy. But a very
good reason is, Frank chose to disguise himself. This makes nothing
against his credit. But it is said that he should not be believed. And
why? Because, it is said, he himself now tells you, that, when he
testified before the grand jury at Ipswich, he did not then say that he
thought the person he saw in Brown Street was Frank Knapp, but that "the
person was about the size of Selman." The means of attacking him,
therefore, come from himself. If he is a false man, why should he tell
truths against himself? They rely on his veracity to prove that he is a
liar. Before you can come to this conclusion, you will consider whether
all the circumstances are now known, that should have a bearing on this
point. Suppose that, when he was before the grand jury, he was asked by
the attorney this question, "Was the person you saw in Brown Street
about the size of Selman?" and he answered Yes. This was all true.
Suppose, also, that he expected to be inquired of further, and no
further questions were put to him. Would it not be extremely hard to
impute to him perjury for this? It is not uncommon for witnesses to
think that they have done all their duty, when they have answered the
questions put to them. But suppose that we admit that he did not then
tell all he knew, this does not affect the _fact_ at all; because he did
tell, at the time, in the hearing of others, that the person he saw was
Frank Knapp. There is not the slightest suggestion against the veracity
or accuracy of Mrs. Southwick. Now she swears positively, that her
husband came into the house and told her that he had seen a person on
the rope-walk steps, and believed it was Frank Knapp.

It is said that Mr. Southwick is contradicted, also, by Mr. Shillaber. I
do not so understand Mr. Shillaber's testimony. I think what they both
testify is reconcilable, and consistent. My learned brother said, on a
similar occasion, that there is more probability, in such cases, that
the persons hearing should misunderstand, than that the person speaking
should contradict himself. I think the same remark applicable here.

You have all witnessed the uncertainty of testimony, when witnesses are
called to testify what other witnesses said. Several respectable
counsellors have been summoned, on this occasion, to give testimony of
that sort. They have, every one of them, given different versions. They
all took minutes at the time, and without doubt intend to state the
truth. But still they differ. Mr. Shillaber's version is different from
every thing that Southwick has stated elsewhere. But little reliance is
to be placed on slight variations in testimony, unless they are
manifestly intentional. I think that Mr. Shillaber must be satisfied
that he did not rightly understand Mr. Southwick. I confess I
misunderstood Mr. Shillaber on the former trial, if I now rightly
understand him. I, therefore, did not then recall Mr. Southwick to the
stand. Mr. Southwick, as I read it, understood Mr. Shillaber as asking
him about a person coming out of Newbury Street, and whether, for aught
he knew, it might not be Richard Crowninshield, Jr. He answered, that he
could not tell. He did not understand Mr. Shillaber as questioning him
as to the person whom he saw sitting on the steps of the rope-walk.
Southwick, on this trial, having heard Mr. Shillaber, has been recalled
to the stand, and states that Mr. Shillaber entirely misunderstood him.
This is certainly most probable, because the controlling fact in the
case is not controverted; that is, that Southwick did tell his wife, at
the very moment he entered his house, that he had seen a person on the
rope-walk steps, whom he believed to be Frank Knapp. Nothing can prove
with more certainty than this, that Southwick, at the time, _thought_
the person whom he thus saw to be the prisoner at the bar.

Mr. Bray is an acknowledged accurate and intelligent witness. He was
highly complimented by my brother on the former trial, although he now
charges him with varying his testimony. What could be his motive? You
will be slow in imputing to him any design of this kind. I deny
altogether that there is any contradiction. There may be differences,
but not contradiction. These arise from the difference in the questions
put; the difference between believing and knowing. On the first trial,
he said he did not know the person, and now says the same. Then, we did
not do all we had a right to do. We did not ask him who he thought it
was. Now, when so asked, he says he believes it was the prisoner at the
bar. If he had then been asked this question, he would have given the
same answer. That he has expressed himself more strongly, I admit; but
he has not contradicted himself. He is more confident now; and that is
all. A man may not assert a thing, and still may have no doubt upon it.
Cannot every man see this distinction to be consistent? I leave him in
that attitude; that only is the difference. On questions of identity,
opinion is evidence. We may ask the witness, either if he knew who the
person seen was, or who he thinks he was. And he may well answer, as
Captain Bray has answered, that he does not know who it was, but that he
thinks it was the prisoner.

We have offered to produce witnesses to prove, that, as soon as Bray saw
the prisoner, he pronounced him the same person. We are not at liberty
to call them to corroborate our own witness. How, then, could this fact
of the prisoner's being in Brown Street be better proved? If ten
witnesses had testified to it, it would be no better. Two men, who knew
him well, took it to be Frank Knapp, and one of them so said, when there
was nothing to mislead them. Two others, who examined him closely, now
swear to their opinion that he is the man.

Miss Jaqueth saw three persons pass by the rope-walk, several evenings
before the murder. She saw one of them pointing towards Mr. White's
house. She noticed that another had something which appeared to be like
an instrument of music; that he put it behind him and attempted to
conceal it. Who were these persons? This was but a few steps from the
place where this apparent instrument of music (of _music_ such as
Richard Crowninshield, Jr. spoke of to Palmer) was afterwards found.
These facts prove this a point of rendezvous for these parties. They
show Brown Street to have been the place for consultation and
observation; and to this purpose it was well suited.

Mr. Burns's testimony is also important. What was the defendant's object
in his private conversation with Burns? He knew that Burns was out that
night; that he lived near Brown Street, and that he had probably seen
him; and he wished him to say nothing. He said to Burns, "If you saw any
of your friends out that night, say nothing about it; my brother Joe and
I are your friends." This is plain proof that he wished to say to him,
if you saw me in Brown Street that night, say nothing about it.

But it is said that Burns ought not to be believed, because he mistook
the color of the dagger, and because he has varied in his description of
it. These are slight circumstances, if his general character be good. To
my mind they are of no importance. It is for you to make what deduction
you may think proper, on this account, from the weight of his evidence.
His conversation with Burns, if Burns is believed, shows two things;
first, that he desired Burns not to mention it, if he had seen him on
the night of the murder; second, that he wished to fix the charge of
murder on Mr. Stephen White. Both of these prove his own guilt.

I think you will be of opinion, that Brown Street was a probable place
for the conspirators to assemble, and for an aid to be stationed. If we
knew their whole plan, and if we were skilled to judge in such a case,
then we could perhaps determine on this point better. But it is a
retired place, and still commands a full view of the house; a lonely
place, but still a place of observation. Not so lonely that a person
would excite suspicion to be seen walking there in an ordinary manner;
not so public as to be noticed by many. It is near enough to the scene
of action in point of law. It was their point of centrality. The club
was found near the spot, in a place provided for it, in a place that had
been previously hunted out, in a concerted place of concealment. _Here
was their point of rendezvous._ Here might the lights be seen. Here
might an aid be secreted. Here was he within call. Here might he be
aroused by the sound of the whistle. Here might he carry the weapon.
Here might he receive the murderer after the murder.

Then, Gentlemen, the general question occurs, Is it satisfactorily
proved, by all these facts and circumstances, that the defendant was in
and about Brown Street on the night of the murder? Considering that the
murder was effected by a conspiracy; considering that he was one of the
four conspirators; considering that two of the conspirators have
accounted for themselves on the night of the murder, and were not in
Brown Street; considering that the prisoner does not account for
himself, nor show where he was; considering that Richard Crowninshield,
the other conspirator and the perpetrator, is not accounted for, nor
shown to be elsewhere; considering that it is now past all doubt that
two persons were seen lurking in and about Brown Street at different
times, avoiding observation, and exciting so much suspicion that the
neighbors actually watched them; considering that, if these persons thus
lurking in Brown Street at that hour were not the murderers, it remains
to this day wholly unknown who they were or what their business was;
considering the testimony of Miss Jaqueth, and that the club was
afterwards found near this place; considering, finally, that Webster and
Southwick saw these persons, and then took one of them for the
defendant, and that Southwick then told his wife so, and that Bray and
Mirick examined them closely, and now swear to their belief that the
prisoner was one of them;--it is for you to say, putting these
considerations together, whether you believe the prisoner was actually
in Brown Street at the time of the murder.

By the counsel for the prisoner, much stress has been laid upon the
question, whether Brown Street was a place in which aid could be given,
a place in which actual assistance could be rendered in this
transaction. This must be mainly decided by their own opinion who
selected the place; by what they thought at the time, according to their
plan of operation.

If it was agreed that the prisoner should be there to assist, it is
enough. If they thought the place proper for their purpose, according to
their plan, it is sufficient. Suppose we could prove expressly that they
agreed that Frank should be there, and he was there, and you should
think it not a well-chosen place for aiding and abetting, must he be
acquitted? No! It is not what _I_ think or _you_ think of the
appropriateness of the place; it is what _they_ thought _at the time_.
If the prisoner was in Brown Street by appointment and agreement with
the perpetrator, for the purpose of giving assistance if assistance
should be needed, it may safely be presumed that the place was suited to
such assistance as it was supposed by the parties might chance to become

If in Brown Street, was he there by appointment? was he there to aid, if
aid were necessary? was he there for, or against, the murderer? to
concur, or to oppose? to favor, or to thwart? Did the perpetrator know
he was there, there waiting? If so, then it follows that he was there by
appointment. He was at the post half an hour; he was waiting for
somebody. This proves appointment, arrangement, previous agreement; then
it follows that he was there to aid, to encourage, to embolden the
perpetrator; and that is enough. If he were in such a situation as to
afford aid, or that he was relied upon for aid, then he was aiding and
abetting. It is enough that the conspirator desired to have him there.
Besides, it may be well said, that he could afford just as much aid
there as if he had been in Essex Street, as if he had been standing even
at the gate, or at the window. It was not an act of power against power
that was to be done; it was a secret act, to be done by stealth. The aid
was to be placed in a position secure from observation. It was important
to the security of both that he should be in a lonely place. Now it is
obvious that there are many purposes for which he might be in Brown

1. Richard Crowninshield might have been secreted in the garden, and
waiting for a signal;

2. Or he might be in Brown Street to advise him as to the time of making
his entry into the house;

3. Or to favor his escape;

4. Or to see if the street was clear when he came out;

5. Or to conceal the weapon or the clothes;

6. To be ready for any unforeseen contingency.

Richard Crowninshield lived in Danvers. He would retire by the most
secret way. Brown Street is that way. If you find him there, can you
doubt why he was there?

If, Gentlemen, the prisoner went into Brown Street, by appointment with
the perpetrator, to render aid or encouragement in any of these ways, he
was _present_, in legal contemplation, aiding and abetting in this
murder. It is not necessary that he should have done any thing; it is
enough that he was ready to act, and in a place to act. If his being in
Brown Street, by appointment, at the time of the murder, emboldened the
purpose and encouraged the heart of the murderer, by the hope of instant
aid, if aid should become necessary, then, without doubt, he was
present, aiding and abetting, and was a principal in the murder.

I now proceed, Gentlemen, to the consideration of the testimony of Mr.
Colman. Although this evidence bears on every material part of the
cause, I have purposely avoided every comment on it till the present
moment, when I have done with the other evidence in the case. As to the
admission of this evidence, there has been a great struggle, and its
importance demanded it. The general rule of law is, that confessions are
to be received as evidence. They are entitled to great or to little
consideration, according to the circumstances under which they are made.
Voluntary, deliberate confessions are the most important and
satisfactory evidence, but confessions hastily made, or improperly
obtained, are entitled to little or no consideration. It is always to be
inquired, whether they were purely voluntary, or were made under any
undue influence of hope or fear; for, in general, if any influence were
exerted on the mind of the person confessing, such confessions are not
to be submitted to a jury.

Who is Mr. Colman? He is an intelligent, accurate, and cautious witness;
a gentleman of high and well-known character, and of unquestionable
veracity; as a clergyman, highly respectable; as a man, of fair name and

Why was Mr. Colman with the prisoner? Joseph J. Knapp was his
parishioner; he was the head of a family, and had been married by Mr.
Colman. The interests of that family were dear to him. He felt for their
afflictions, and was anxious to alleviate their sufferings. He went from
the purest and best of motives to visit Joseph Knapp. He came to save,
not to destroy; to rescue, not to take away life. In this family he
thought there might be a chance to save one. It is a misconstruction of
Mr. Colman's motives, at once the most strange and the most
uncharitable, a perversion of all just views of his conduct and
intentions the most unaccountable, to represent him as acting, on this
occasion, in hostility to any one, or as desirous of injuring or
endangering any one. He has stated his own motives, and his own conduct,
in a manner to command universal belief and universal respect. For
intelligence, for consistency, for accuracy, for caution, for candor,
never did witness acquit himself better, or stand fairer. In all that he
did as a man, and all he has said as a witness, he has shown himself
worthy of entire regard.

Now, Gentlemen, very important confessions made by the prisoner are
sworn to by Mr. Colman. They were made in the prisoner's cell, where Mr.
Colman had gone with the prisoner's brother, N. Phippen Knapp. Whatever
conversation took place was in the presence of N.P. Knapp. Now, on the
part of the prisoner, two things are asserted; first, that such
inducements were suggested to the prisoner, in this interview, that no
confessions made by him ought to be received; second, that, in point of
fact, he made no such confessions as Mr. Colman testifies to, nor,
indeed, any confessions at all. These two propositions are attempted to
be supported by the testimony of N.P. Knapp. These two witnesses, Mr.
Colman and N.P. Knapp, differ entirely. There is no possibility of
reconciling them. No charity can cover both. One or the other has sworn
falsely. If N.P. Knapp be believed, Mr. Colman's testimony must be
wholly disregarded. It is, then, a question of credit, a question of
belief between the two witnesses. As you decide between these, so you
will decide on all this part of the case.

Mr. Colman has given you a plain narrative, a consistent account, and
has uniformly stated the same things. He is not contradicted, except by
the testimony of Phippen Knapp. He is influenced, as far as we can see,
by no bias, or prejudice, any more than other men, except so far as his
character is now at stake. He has feelings on this point, doubtless, and
ought to have. If what he has stated be not true, I cannot see any
ground for his escape. If he be a true man, he must have heard what he
testifies. No treachery of memory brings to memory things that never
took place. There is no reconciling his evidence with good intention, if
the facts in it are not as he states them. He is on trial as to his

The relation in which the other witness stands deserves your careful
consideration. He is a member of the family. He has the lives of two
brothers depending, as he may think, on the effect of his evidence;
depending on every word he speaks. I hope he has not another
responsibility resting upon him. By the advice of a friend, and that
friend Mr. Colman, J. Knapp made a full and free confession, and
obtained a promise of pardon. He has since, as you know, probably by the
advice of other friends, retracted that confession, and rejected the
offered pardon. Events will show who of these friends and advisers
advised him best, and befriended him most. In the mean time, if this
brother, the witness, be one of these advisers, and advised the
retraction, he has, most emphatically, the lives of his brothers resting
upon his evidence and upon his conduct. Compare the situation of these
two witnesses. Do you not see mighty motive enough on the one side, and
want of all motive on the other? I would gladly find an apology for that
witness, in his agonized feelings, in his distressed situation; in the
agitation of that hour, or of this. I would gladly impute it to error,
or to want of recollection, to confusion of mind, or disturbance of
feeling. I would gladly impute to any pardonable source that which
cannot be reconciled to facts and to truth; but, even in a case calling
for so much sympathy, justice must yet prevail, and we must come to the
conclusion, however reluctantly, which that demands from us.

It is said, Phippen Knapp was probably correct, because he knew he
should probably be called as a witness. Witness to what? When he says
there was no confession, what could he expect to bear witness of? But I
do not put it on the ground that he did not hear; I am compelled to put
it on the other ground, that he did hear, and does not now truly tell
what he heard.

If Mr. Colman were out of the case, there are other reasons why the
story of Phippen Knapp should not be believed. It has in it inherent
improbabilities. It is unnatural, and inconsistent with the accompanying
circumstances. He tells you that they went "to the cell of Frank, to see
if he had any objection to taking a trial, and suffering his brother to
accept the offer of pardon"; in other words, to obtain Frank's consent
to Joseph's making a confession; and in case this consent was not
obtained, that the pardon would be offered to Frank. Did they bandy
about the chance of life, between these two, in this way? Did Mr.
Colman, after having given this pledge to Joseph, and after having
received a disclosure from Joseph, go to the cell of Frank for such a
purpose as this? It is impossible; it cannot be so.

Again, we know that Mr. Colman found the club the next day; that he went
directly to the place of deposit, and found it at the first attempt,
exactly where he says he had been informed it was. Now Phippen Knapp
says, that Frank had stated nothing respecting the club; that it was not
mentioned in that conversation. He says, also, that he was present in
the cell of Joseph all the time that Mr. Colman was there; that he
believes he heard all that was said in Joseph's cell; and that he did
not himself know where the club was, and never had known where it was,
until he heard it stated in court. Now it is certain that Mr. Colman
says he did not learn the particular place of deposit of the club from
Joseph; that he only learned from him that it was deposited under the
steps of the Howard Street meeting-house, without defining the
particular steps. It is certain, also, that he had more knowledge of the
position of the club than this; else how could he have placed his hand
on it so readily? and where else could he have obtained this knowledge,
except from Frank?

Here Mr. Dexter said that Mr. Colman had had other interviews with
Joseph, and might have derived the information from him at previous
visits. Mr. Webster replied, that Mr. Colman had testified that he
learned nothing in relation to the club until this visit. Mr.
Dexter denied there being any such testimony. Mr. Colman's evidence
was read, from the notes of the judges, and several other persons,
and Mr. Webster then proceeded.

My point is to show that Phippen Knapp's story is not true, is not
consistent with itself; that, taking it for granted, as he says, that he
heard all that was said to Mr. Colman in both cells, by Joseph and by
Frank; and that Joseph did not state particularly where the club was
deposited; and that he knew as much about the place of deposit of the
club as Mr. Colman knew; why, then Mr. Colman must either have been
miraculously informed respecting the club, or Phippen Knapp has not told
you the whole truth. There is no reconciling this, without supposing
that Mr. Colman has misrepresented what took place in Joseph's cell, as
well as what took place in Frank's cell.

Again, Phippen Knapp is directly contradicted by Mr. Wheatland. Mr.
Wheatland tells the same story, as coming from Phippen Knapp, that
Colman now tells. Here there are two against one. Phippen Knapp says
that Frank made no confessions, and that he said he had none to make. In
this he is contradicted by Wheatland. He, Phippen Knapp, told Wheatland,
that Mr. Colman did ask Frank some questions, and that Frank answered
them. He told him also what these answers were. Wheatland does not
recollect the questions or answers, but recollects his reply; which was,
"Is not this _premature_? I think this answer is sufficient to make
Frank a principal." Here Phippen Knapp opposes himself to Wheatland, as
well as to Mr. Colman. Do you believe Phippen Knapp against these two
respectable witnesses, or them against him?

Is not Mr. Colman's testimony credible, natural, and proper? To judge of
this, you must go back to that scene.

The murder had been committed; the two Knapps were now arrested; four
persons were already in jail supposed to be concerned in it, the
Crowninshields, and Selman, and Chase. Another person at the Eastward
was supposed to be in the plot; it was important to learn the facts. To
do this, some one of those suspected must be admitted to turn state's
witness. The contest was, Who should have this privilege? It was
understood that it was about to be offered to Palmer, then in Maine;
there was no good reason why he should have the preference. Mr. Colman
felt interested for the family of the Knapps, and particularly for
Joseph. He was a young man who had hitherto maintained a fair standing
in society; he was a husband. Mr. Colman was particularly intimate with
his family. With these views he went to the prison. He believed that he
might safely converse with the prisoner, because he thought confessions
made to a clergyman were sacred, and that he could not be called upon to
disclose them. He went, the first time, in the morning, and was
requested to come again. He went again at three o'clock; and was
requested to call again at five o'clock. In the mean time he saw the
father and Phippen, and they wished he would not go again, because it
would be said the prisoners were making confession. He said he had
engaged to go again at five o'clock; but would not, if Phippen would
excuse him to Joseph. Phippen engaged to do this, and to meet him at his
office at five o'clock. Mr. Colman went to the office at the time, and
waited; but, as Phippen was not there, he walked down street, and saw
him coming from the jail. He met him, and while in conversation near the
church, he saw Mrs. Beckford and Mrs. Knapp going in a chaise towards
the jail. He hastened to meet them, as he thought it not proper for them
to go in at that time. While conversing with them near the jail, he
received two distinct messages from Joseph, that he wished to see him.
He thought it proper to go; and accordingly went to Joseph's cell, and
it was while there that the disclosures were made. Before Joseph had
finished his statement, Phippen came to the door; he was soon after
admitted. A short interval ensued, and they went together to the cell of
Frank. Mr. Colman went in by invitation of Phippen; he had come directly
from the cell of Joseph, where he had for the first time learned the
incidents of the tragedy. He was incredulous as to some of the facts
which he had learned, they were so different from his previous
impressions. He was desirous of knowing whether he could place
confidence in what Joseph had told him. He, therefore, put the questions
to Frank, as he has testified before you; in answer to which Frank Knapp
informed him,--

1. "That the murder took place between ten and eleven o'clock."

2. "That Richard Crowninshield was alone in the house."

3. "That he, Frank Knapp, went home afterwards."

4. "That the club was deposited under the steps of the Howard Street
meeting-house, and under the part nearest the burying-ground, in a rat

5. "That the dagger or daggers had been worked up at the factory."

It is said that these five answers just fit the case; that they are just
what was wanted, and neither more nor less. True, they are; but the
reason is, because truth always fits. Truth is always congruous and
agrees with itself: every truth in the universe agrees with every other
truth in the universe, whereas falsehoods not only disagree with truths,
but usually quarrel among themselves. Surely Mr. Colman is influenced by
no bias, no prejudice; he has no feelings to warp him, except, now that
he is contradicted, he may feel an interest to be believed.

If you believe Mr. Colman, then the evidence is fairly in the case.

I shall now proceed on the ground that you do believe Mr. Colman.

When told that Joseph had determined to confess, the defendant said, "It
is hard, or unfair, that Joseph should have the benefit of confessing,
since the thing was done for his benefit." What thing was done for his
benefit? Does not this carry an implication of the guilt of the
defendant? Does it not show that he had a knowledge of the object and
history of the murder?

The defendant said, "I told Joseph, when he proposed it, that it was a
silly business, and would get us into trouble." He knew, then, what this
business was; he knew that Joseph proposed it, and that he agreed to it,
else he could not get _us_ into trouble; he understood its bearing and
its consequences. Thus much was said, under circumstances that make it
clearly evidence against him, before there is any pretence of an
inducement held out. And does not this prove him to have had a knowledge
of the conspiracy?

He knew the daggers had been destroyed, and he knew who committed the
murder. How could he have innocently known these facts? Why, if by
Richard's story, this shows him guilty of a knowledge of the murder, and
of the conspiracy. More than all, he knew when the deed was done, and
that he went home afterwards. This shows his participation in that deed.
"Went home afterwards"! Home, from what scene? home, from what fact?
home, from what transaction? home, from what place? This confirms the
supposition that the prisoner was in Brown Street for the purposes
ascribed to him. These questions were directly put, and directly
answered. He does not intimate that he received the information from
another. Now, if he knows the time, and went home afterwards, and does
not excuse himself, is not this an admission that he had a hand in this
murder? Already proved to be a conspirator in the murder, he now
confesses that he knew who did it, at what time it was done, that he was
himself out of his own house at the time, and went home afterwards. Is
not this conclusive, if not explained? Then comes the club. He told
where it was. This is like possession of stolen goods. He is charged
with the guilty knowledge of this concealment. He must show, not say,
how he came by this knowledge. If a man be found with stolen goods, he
must prove how he came by them. The place of deposit of the club was
premeditated and selected, and he knew where it was.

Joseph Knapp was an accessory, and an accessory only; he knew only what
was told him. But the prisoner knew the particular spot in which the
club might be found. This shows his knowledge something more than that
of an accessory. This presumption must be rebutted by evidence, or it
stands strong against him. He has too much knowledge of this transaction
to have come innocently by it. It must stand against him until he
explains it.

This testimony of Mr. Colman is represented as new matter, and therefore
an attempt has been made to excite a prejudice against it. It is not
so. How little is there in it, after all, that did not appear from other
sources? It is mainly confirmatory. Compare what you learn from this
confession with what you before knew.

As to its being proposed by Joseph, was not that known?

As to Richard's being alone in the house, was not that known?

As to the daggers, was not that known?

As to the time of the murder, was not that known?

As to his being out that night, was not that known?

As to his returning afterwards, was not that known?

As to the club, was not that known?

So this information confirms what was known before, and fully confirms

One word as to the interview between Mr. Colman and Phippen Knapp on the
turnpike. It is said that Mr. Colman's conduct in this matter is
inconsistent with his testimony. There does not appear to me to be any
inconsistency. He tells you that his object was to save Joseph, and to
hurt no one, and least of all the prisoner at the bar. He had probably
told Mr. White the substance of what he heard at the prison. He had
probably told him that Frank confirmed what Joseph had confessed. He was
unwilling to be the instrument of harm to Frank. He therefore, at the
request of Phippen Knapp, wrote a note to Mr. White, requesting him to
consider Joseph as authority for the information he had received. He
tells you that this is the only thing he has to regret, as it may seem
to be an evasion, as he doubts whether it was entirely correct. If it
was an evasion, if it was a deviation, if it was an error, it was an
error of mercy, an error of kindness,--an error that proves he had no
hostility to the prisoner at the bar. It does not in the least vary his
testimony, or affect its correctness. Gentlemen, I look on the evidence
of Mr. Colman as highly important; not as bringing into the cause new
facts, but as confirming, in a very satisfactory manner, other evidence.
It is incredible that he can be false, and that he is seeking the
prisoner's life through false swearing. If he is true, it is incredible
that the prisoner can be innocent.

Gentlemen, I have gone through with the evidence in this case, and have
endeavored to state it plainly and fairly before you. I think there are
conclusions to be drawn from it, the accuracy of which you cannot doubt.
I think you cannot doubt that there was a conspiracy formed for the
purpose of committing this murder, and who the conspirators were:

That you cannot doubt that the Crowninshields and the Knapps were the
parties in this conspiracy:

That you cannot doubt that the prisoner at the bar knew that the murder
was to be done on the night of the 6th of April:

That you cannot doubt that the murderers of Captain White were the
suspicious persons seen in and about Brown Street on that night:

That you cannot doubt that Richard Crowninshield was the perpetrator of
that crime:

That you cannot doubt that the prisoner at the bar was in Brown Street
on that night.

If there, then it must be by agreement, to countenance, to aid the
perpetrator. And if so, then he is guilty as PRINCIPAL.

Gentlemen, your whole concern should be to do your duty, and leave
consequences to take care of themselves. You will receive the law from
the court. Your verdict, it is true, may endanger the prisoner's life,
but then it is to save other lives. If the prisoner's guilt has been
shown and proved beyond all reasonable doubt, you will convict him. If
such reasonable doubts of guilt still remain, you will acquit him. You
are the judges of the whole case. You owe a duty to the public, as well
as to the prisoner at the bar. You cannot presume to be wiser than the
law. Your duty is a plain, straightforward one. Doubtless we would all
judge him in mercy. Towards him, as an individual, the law inculcates no
hostility; but towards him, if proved to be a murderer, the law, and the
oaths you have taken, and public justice, demand that you do your duty.

With consciences satisfied with the discharge of duty, no consequences
can harm you. There is no evil that we cannot either face or fly from,
but the consciousness of duty disregarded. A sense of duty pursues us
ever. It is omnipresent, like the Deity. If we take to ourselves the
wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, duty
performed, or duty violated, is still with us, for our happiness or our
misery. If we say the darkness shall cover us, in the darkness as in the
light our obligations are yet with us. We cannot escape their power, nor
fly from their presence. They are with us in this life, will be with us
at its close; and in that scene of inconceivable solemnity, which lies
yet farther onward, we shall still find ourselves surrounded by the
consciousness of duty, to pain us wherever it has been violated, and to
console us so far as God may have given us grace to perform it.

[Footnote 1: Chief Justice Parker.]

[Footnote 2: This seems to have been actually the case as regards J.F.

[Footnote 3: And yet this argument, so absurd in Mr. Webster's opinion,
was based on the exact fact.]

[Footnote 4: He did not.]

[Footnote 5: 4 Hawk. 201, Lib. 4, ch. 29, sec. 8.]



[Mr. Webster having completed on January 20th his first speech on Foot's
resolution, Mr. Benton spoke in reply, on the 20th and 21st of January,
1830. Mr. Hayne of South Carolina followed on the same side, but, after
some time, gave way for a motion for adjournment. On Monday, the 25th,
Mr. Hayne resumed, and concluded his argument. Mr. Webster immediately
rose in reply, but yielded the floor for a motion for adjournment.

The next day (26th January, 1830) Mr. Webster took the floor and
delivered the following speech, which has given such great celebrity to
the debate. The circumstances connected with this remarkable effort of
parliamentary eloquence are vividly set forth in Mr. Everett's Memoir,
prefixed to the first volume of Mr. Webster's Works.]

Mr. President,--When the mariner has been tossed for many days in thick
weather, and on an unknown sea, he naturally avails himself of the first
pause in the storm, the earliest glance of the sun, to take his
latitude, and ascertain how far the elements have driven him from his
true course. Let us imitate this prudence, and, before we float farther
on the waves of this debate, refer to the point from which we departed,
that we may at least be able to conjecture where we now are. I ask for
the reading of the resolution before the Senate.

The Secretary read the resolution, as follows:--

"_Resolved_, That the Committee on Public Lands be instructed to
inquire and report the quantity of public lands remaining unsold
within each State and Territory, and whether it be expedient to
limit for a certain period the sales of the public lands to such
lands only as have heretofore been offered for sale, and are now
subject to entry at the minimum price. And, also, whether the
office of Surveyor-General, and some of the land offices, may not
be abolished without detriment to the public interest; or whether
it be expedient to adopt measures to hasten the sales and extend
more rapidly the surveys of the public lands."

We have thus heard, Sir, what the resolution is which is actually before
us for consideration; and it will readily occur to every one, that it is
almost the only subject about which something has not been said in the
speech, running through two days, by which the Senate has been
entertained by the gentleman from South Carolina. Every topic in the
wide range of our public affairs, whether past or present,--every thing,
general or local, whether belonging to national politics or party
politics,--seems to have attracted more or less of the honorable
member's attention, save only the resolution before the Senate. He has
spoken of every thing but the public lands; they have escaped his
notice. To that subject, in all his excursions, he has not paid even the
cold respect of a passing glance.

When this debate, Sir, was to be resumed, on Thursday morning, it so
happened that it would have been convenient for me to be elsewhere. The
honorable member, however, did not incline to put off the discussion to
another day. He had a shot, he said, to return, and he wished to
discharge it. That shot, Sir, which he thus kindly informed us was
coming, that we might stand out of the way, or prepare ourselves to fall
by it and die with decency, has now been received. Under all advantages,
and with expectation awakened by the tone which preceded it, it has been
discharged, and has spent its force. It may become me to say no more of
its effect, than that, if nobody is found, after all, either killed or
wounded, it is not the first time, in the history of human affairs, that
the vigor and success of the war have not quite come up to the lofty and
sounding phrase of the manifesto.

The gentleman, Sir, in declining to postpone the debate, told the
Senate, with the emphasis of his hand upon his heart, that there was
something rankling _here_, which he wished to relieve. [Mr. Hayne rose,
and disclaimed having used the word _rankling_.] It would not, Mr.
President, be safe for the honorable member to appeal to those around
him, upon the question whether he did in fact make use of that word. But
he may have been unconscious of it. At any rate, it is enough that he
disclaims it. But still, with or without the use of that particular
word, he had yet something _here_, he said, of which he wished to rid
himself by an immediate reply. In this respect, Sir, I have a great
advantage over the honorable gentleman. There is nothing _here_, Sir,
which gives me the slightest uneasiness; neither fear, nor anger, nor
that which is sometimes more troublesome than either, the consciousness
of having been in the wrong. There is nothing, either originating
_here_, or now received _here_ by the gentleman's shot. Nothing
originating here, for I had not the slightest feeling of unkindness
towards the honorable member. Some passages, it is true, had occurred
since our acquaintance in this body, which I could have wished might
have been otherwise; but I had used philosophy and forgotten them. I
paid the honorable member the attention of listening with respect to his
first speech; and when he sat down, though surprised, and I must even
say astonished, at some of his opinions, nothing was farther from my
intention than to commence any personal warfare. Through the whole of
the few remarks I made in answer, I avoided, studiously and carefully,
every thing which I thought possible to be construed into disrespect.
And, Sir, while there is thus nothing originating _here_ which I have
wished at any time, or now wish, to discharge, I must repeat, also, that
nothing has been received _here_ which _rankles_, or in any way gives me
annoyance. I will not accuse the honorable member of violating the rules
of civilized war; I will not say, that he poisoned his arrows. But
whether his shafts were, or were not, dipped in that which would have
caused rankling if they had reached their destination, there was not, as
it happened, quite strength enough in the bow to bring them to their
mark. If he wishes now to gather up those shafts, he must look for them
elsewhere; they will not be found fixed and quivering in the object at
which they were aimed.

The honorable member complained that I had slept on his speech. I must
have slept on it, or not slept at all. The moment the honorable member
sat down, his friend from Missouri rose, and, with much honeyed
commendation of the speech, suggested that the impressions which it had
produced were too charming and delightful to be disturbed by other
sentiments or other sounds, and proposed that the Senate should adjourn.
Would it have been quite amiable in me, Sir, to interrupt this excellent
good feeling? Must I not have been absolutely malicious, if I could have
thrust myself forward, to destroy sensations thus pleasing? Was it not
much better and kinder, both to sleep upon them myself, and to allow
others also the pleasure of sleeping upon them? But if it be meant, by
sleeping upon his speech, that I took time to prepare a reply to it, it
is quite a mistake. Owing to other engagements, I could not employ even
the interval between the adjournment of the Senate and its meeting the
next morning, in attention to the subject of this debate. Nevertheless,
Sir, the mere matter of fact is undoubtedly true. I did sleep on the
gentleman's speech, and slept soundly. And I slept equally well on his
speech of yesterday, to which I am now replying. It is quite possible
that in this respect, also, I possess some advantage over the honorable
member, attributable, doubtless, to a cooler temperament on my part;
for, in truth, I slept upon his speeches remarkably well.

But the gentleman inquires why _he_ was made the object of such a reply.
Why was _he_ singled out? If an attack has been made on the East, he, he
assures us, did not begin it; it was made by the gentleman from
Missouri. Sir, I answered the gentleman's speech because I happened to
hear it; and because, also, I chose to give an answer to that speech,
which, if unanswered, I thought most likely to produce injurious
impressions. I did not stop to inquire who was the original drawer of
the bill. I found a responsible indorser before me, and it was my
purpose to hold him liable, and to bring him to his just responsibility,
without delay. But, Sir, this interrogatory of the honorable member was
only introductory to another. He proceeded to ask me whether I had
turned upon him, in this debate, from the consciousness that I should
find an overmatch, if I ventured on a contest with his friend from
Missouri. If, Sir, the honorable member, _modestiae gratia_, had chosen
thus to defer to his friend, and to pay him a compliment, without
intentional disparagement to others, it would have been quite according
to the friendly courtesies of debate, and not at all ungrateful to my
own feelings. I am not one of those, Sir, who esteem any tribute of
regard, whether light and occasional, or more serious and deliberate,
which may be bestowed on others, as so much unjustly withholden from
themselves. But the tone and manner of the gentleman's question forbid
me thus to interpret it. I am not at liberty to consider it as nothing
more than a civility to his friend. It had an air of taunt and
disparagement, something of the loftiness of asserted superiority, which
does not allow me to pass it over without notice. It was put as a
question for me to answer, and so put as if it were difficult for me to
answer, whether I deemed the member from Missouri an overmatch for
myself in debate here. It seems to me, Sir, that this is extraordinary
language, and an extraordinary tone, for the discussions of this body.

Matches and overmatches! Those terms are more applicable elsewhere than
here, and fitter for other assemblies than this. Sir, the gentleman
seems to forget where and what we are. This is a Senate, a Senate of
equals, of men of individual honor and personal character, and of
absolute independence. We know no masters, we acknowledge no dictators.
This is a hall for mutual consultation and discussion; not an arena for
the exhibition of champions. I offer myself, Sir, as a match for no man;
I throw the challenge of debate at no man's feet. But then, Sir, since
the honorable member has put the question in a manner that calls for an
answer, I will give him an answer; and I tell him, that, holding myself
to be the humblest of the members here, I yet know nothing in the arm of
his friend from Missouri, either alone or when aided by the arm of _his_
friend from South Carolina, that need deter even me from espousing
whatever opinions I may choose to espouse, from debating whenever I may
choose to debate, or from speaking whatever I may see fit to say, on the
floor of the Senate. Sir, when uttered as matter of commendation or
compliment, I should dissent from nothing which the honorable member
might say of his friend. Still less do I put forth any pretensions of my
own. But when put to me as matter of taunt, I throw it back, and say to
the gentleman, that he could possibly say nothing less likely than such
a comparison to wound my pride of personal character. The anger of its
tone rescued the remark from intentional irony, which otherwise,
probably, would have been its general acceptation. But, Sir, if it be
imagined that by this mutual quotation and commendation; if it be
supposed that, by casting the characters of the drama assigning to each
his part, to one the attack, to another the cry of onset; or if it be
thought that, by a loud and empty vaunt of anticipated victory, any
laurels are to be won here; if it be imagined, especially, that any or
all these things will shake any purpose of mine,--I can tell the
honorable member, once for all, that he is greatly mistaken, and that he
is dealing with one of whose temper and character he has yet much to
learn. Sir, I shall not allow myself, on this occasion, I hope on no
occasion, to be betrayed into any loss of temper; but if provoked, as I
trust I never shall be, into crimination and recrimination, the
honorable member may perhaps find, that, in that contest, there will be
blows to take as well as blows to give; that others can state
comparisons as significant, at least, as his own, and that his impunity
may possibly demand of him whatever powers of taunt and sarcasm he may
possess. I commend him to a prudent husbandry of his resources.

But, Sir, the Coalition! The Coalition! Ay, "the murdered Coalition!"
The gentleman asks, if I were led or frighted into this debate by the
spectre of the Coalition. "Was it the ghost of the murdered Coalition,"
he exclaims, "which haunted the member from Massachusetts; and which,
like the ghost of Banquo, would never down?" "The murdered Coalition!"
Sir, this charge of a coalition, in reference to the late
administration, is not original with the honorable member. It did not
spring up in the Senate. Whether as a fact, as an argument, or as an
embellishment, it is all borrowed. He adopts it, indeed, from a very low
origin, and a still lower present condition. It is one of the thousand
calumnies with which the press teemed, during an excited political
canvass. It was a charge, of which there was not only no proof or
probability, but which was in itself wholly impossible to be true. No
man of common information ever believed a syllable of it. Yet it was of
that class of falsehoods, which, by continued repetition, through all
the organs of detraction and abuse, are capable of misleading those who
are already far misled, and of further fanning passion already kindling
into flame. Doubtless it served in its day, and in greater or less
degree, the end designed by it. Having done that, it has sunk into the
general mass of stale and loathed calumnies. It is the very cast-off
slough of a polluted and shameless press. Incapable of further mischief,
it lies in the sewer, lifeless and despised. It is not now, Sir, in the
power of the honorable member to give it dignity or decency, by
attempting to elevate it, and to introduce it into the Senate. He cannot
change it from what it is, an object of general disgust and scorn. On
the contrary, the contact, if he choose to touch it, is more likely to
drag him down, down, to the place where it lies itself.

But, Sir, the honorable member was not, for other reasons, entirely
happy in his allusion to the story of Banquo's murder and Banquo's
ghost. It was not, I think, the friends, but the enemies of the murdered
Banquo, at whose bidding his spirit would not _down_. The honorable
gentleman is fresh in his reading of the English classics, and can put
me right if I am wrong: but, according to my poor recollection, it was
at those who had begun with caresses and ended with foul and treacherous
murder that the gory locks were shaken. The ghost of Banquo, like that
of Hamlet, was an honest ghost. It disturbed no innocent man. It knew
where its appearance would strike terror, and who would cry out, A
ghost! It made itself visible in the right quarter, and compelled the
guilty and the conscience-smitten, and none others, to start, with,

"Pr'ythee, see there! behold!--look! lo,
If I stand here, I saw him!"

THEIR eyeballs were seared (was it not so, Sir?) who had thought to
shield themselves by concealing their own hand, and laying the
imputation of the crime on a low and hireling agency in wickedness; who
had vainly attempted to stifle the workings of their own coward
consciences by ejaculating through white lips and chattering teeth,
"Thou canst not say I did it!" I have misread the great poet if those
who had no way partaken in the deed of the death, either found that they
were, or _feared that they should be_, pushed from their stools by the
ghost of the slain, or exclaimed to a spectre created by their own fears
and their own remorse, "Avaunt! and quit our sight!"

There is another particular, Sir, in which the honorable member's quick
perception of resemblances might, I should think, have seen something in
the story of Banquo, making it not altogether a subject of the most
pleasant contemplation. Those who murdered Banquo, what did they win by
it? Substantial good? Permanent power? Or disappointment, rather, and
sore mortification,--dust and ashes, the common fate of vaulting
ambition overleaping itself? Did not even-handed justice erelong commend
the poisoned chalice to their own lips? Did they not soon find that for
another they had "filed their mind"? that their ambition, though
apparently for the moment successful, had but put a barren sceptre in
their grasp? Ay, Sir,

"a barren sceptre in their gripe,
_Thence to be wrenched with an unlineal hand,
No son of theirs succeeding_."

Sir, I need pursue the allusion no farther. I leave the honorable
gentleman to run it out at his leisure, and to derive from it all the
gratification it is calculated to administer. If he finds himself
pleased with the associations, and prepared to be quite satisfied,
though the parallel should be entirely completed, I had almost said, I
am satisfied also; but that I shall think of. Yes, Sir, I will think of

In the course of my observations the other day, Mr. President, I paid a
passing tribute of respect to a very worthy man, Mr. Dane of
Massachusetts. It so happened that he drew the Ordinance of 1787, for
the government of the Northwestern Territory. A man of so much ability,
and so little pretence; of so great a capacity to do good, and so
unmixed a disposition to do it for its own sake; a gentleman who had
acted an important part, forty years ago, in a measure the influence of
which is still deeply felt in the very matter which was the subject of
debate,--might, I thought, receive from me a commendatory recognition.
But the honorable member was inclined to be facetious on the subject. He
was rather disposed to make it matter of ridicule, that I had introduced
into the debate the name of one Nathan Dane, of whom he assures us he
had never before heard. Sir, if the honorable member had never before
heard of Mr. Dane, I am sorry for it. It shows him less acquainted with
the public men of the country than I had supposed. Let me tell him,
however, that a sneer from him at the mention of the name of Mr. Dane is
in bad taste. It may well be a high mark of ambition, Sir, either with
the honorable gentleman or myself, to accomplish as much to make our
names known to advantage, and remembered with gratitude, as Mr. Dane has
accomplished. But the truth is, Sir, I suspect, that Mr. Dane lives a
little too far north. He is of Massachusetts, and too near the north
star to be reached by the honorable gentleman's telescope. If his sphere
had happened to range south of Mason and Dixon's line, he might,
probably, have come within the scope of his vision.

I spoke, Sir, of the Ordinance of 1787, which prohibits slavery, in all
future times, northwest of the Ohio, as a measure of great wisdom and
foresight, and one which had been attended with highly beneficial and
permanent consequences. I supposed that, on this point, no two gentlemen
in the Senate could entertain different opinions. But the simple
expression of this sentiment has led the gentleman, not only into a
labored defence of slavery, in the abstract, and on principle, but also
into a warm accusation against me, as having attacked the system of
domestic slavery now existing in the Southern States. For all this,
there was not the slightest foundation, in any thing said or intimated
by me. I did not utter a single word which any ingenuity could torture
into an attack on the slavery of the South. I said, only, that it was
highly wise and useful, in legislating for the Northwestern country
while it was yet a wilderness, to prohibit the introduction of slaves;
and I added, that I presumed there was no reflecting and intelligent
person, in the neighboring State of Kentucky, who would doubt that, if
the same prohibition had been extended, at the same early period, over
that commonwealth, her strength and population would, at this day, have
been far greater than they are. If these opinions be thought doubtful,
they are nevertheless, I trust, neither extraordinary nor disrespectful.
They attack nobody and menace nobody. And yet, Sir, the gentleman's
optics have discovered, even in the mere expression of this sentiment,
what he calls the very spirit of the Missouri question! He represents me
as making an onset on the whole South, and manifesting a spirit which
would interfere with, and disturb, their domestic condition!

Sir, this injustice no otherwise surprises me, than as it is committed
here, and committed without the slightest pretence of ground for it. I
say it only surprises me as being done here; for I know full well, that
it is, and has been, the settled policy of some persons in the South,
for years, to represent the people of the North as disposed to interfere
with them in their own exclusive and peculiar concerns. This is a
delicate and sensitive point in Southern feeling; and of late years it
has always been touched, and generally with effect, whenever the object
has been to unite the whole South against Northern men or Northern
measures. This feeling, always carefully kept alive, and maintained at
too intense a heat to admit discrimination or reflection, is a lever of
great power in our political machine. It moves vast bodies, and gives to
them one and the same direction. But it is without adequate cause, and
the suspicion which exists is wholly groundless. There is not, and never
has been, a disposition in the North to interfere with these interests
of the South. Such interference has never been supposed to be within the
power of government; nor has it been in any way attempted. The slavery
of the South has always been regarded as a matter of domestic policy,
left with the States themselves, and with which the Federal government
had nothing to do. Certainly, Sir, I am, and ever have been, of that
opinion. The gentleman, indeed, argues that slavery, in the abstract, is
no evil. Most assuredly I need not say I differ with him, altogether and
most widely, on that point. I regard domestic slavery as one of the
greatest evils, both moral and political. But whether it be a malady,
and whether it be curable, and if so, by what means; or, on the other
hand, whether it be the _vulnus immedicabile_ of the social system, I
leave it to those whose right and duty it is to inquire and to decide.
And this I believe, Sir, is, and uniformly has been, the sentiment of
the North. Let us look a little at the history of this matter.

When the present Constitution was submitted for the ratification of the
people, there were those who imagined that the powers of the government
which it proposed to establish might, in some possible mode, be exerted
in measures tending to the abolition of slavery. This suggestion would
of course attract much attention in the Southern conventions. In that of
Virginia, Governor Randolph said:--

"I hope there is none here, who, considering the subject in the calm
light of philosophy, will make an objection dishonorable to Virginia;
that, at the moment they are securing the rights of their citizens, an
objection is started, that there is a spark of hope that those
unfortunate men now held in bondage may, by the operation of the general
government, be made free."

At the very first Congress, petitions on the subject were presented, if
I mistake not, from different States. The Pennsylvania society for
promoting the abolition of slavery took a lead, and laid before Congress
a memorial, praying Congress to promote the abolition by such powers as
it possessed. This memorial was referred, in the House of
Representatives, to a select committee, consisting of Mr. Foster of New
Hampshire, Mr. Gerry of Massachusetts, Mr. Huntington of Connecticut,
Mr. Lawrence of New York, Mr. Sinnickson of New Jersey, Mr. Hartley of
Pennsylvania, and Mr. Parker of Virginia,--all of them, Sir, as you will
observe, Northern men but the last. This committee made a report, which
was referred to a committee of the whole House, and there considered and
discussed for several days; and being amended, although without material
alteration, it was made to express three distinct propositions, on the
subject of slavery and the slave-trade. First, in the words of the
Constitution, that Congress could not, prior to the year 1808, prohibit
the migration or importation of such persons as any of the States then
existing should think proper to admit; and, secondly, that Congress had
authority to restrain the citizens of the United States from carrying on
the African slave-trade, for the purpose of supplying foreign countries.
On this proposition, our early laws against those who engage in that
traffic are founded. The third proposition, and that which bears on the
present question, was expressed in the following terms:--

"_Resolved_, That Congress have no authority to interfere in the
emancipation of slaves, or in the treatment of them in any of the
States; it remaining with the several States alone to provide rules and
regulations therein which humanity and true policy may require."

This resolution received the sanction of the House of Representatives so
early as March, 1790. And now, Sir, the honorable member will allow me
to remind him, that not only were the select committee who reported the
resolution, with a single exception, all Northern men, but also that, of
the members then composing the House of Representatives, a large
majority, I believe nearly two thirds, were Northern men also.

The House agreed to insert these resolutions in its journal; and from
that day to this it has never been maintained or contended at the North,
that Congress had any authority to regulate or interfere with the
condition of slaves in the several States. No Northern gentleman, to my
knowledge, has moved any such question in either House of Congress.

The fears of the South, whatever fears they might have entertained, were
allayed and quieted by this early decision; and so remained till they
were excited afresh, without cause, but for collateral and indirect
purposes. When it became necessary, or was thought so, by some political
persons, to find an unvarying ground for the exclusion of Northern men
from confidence and from lead in the affairs of the republic, then, and
not till then, the cry was raised, and the feeling industriously
excited, that the influence of Northern men in the public counsels would
endanger the relation of master and slave. For myself, I claim no other
merit than that this gross and enormous injustice towards the whole
North has not wrought upon me to change my opinions or my political
conduct. I hope I am above violating my principles, even under the smart
of injury and false imputations. Unjust suspicions and undeserved
reproach, whatever pain I may experience from them, will not induce me,
I trust, to overstep the limits of constitutional duty, or to encroach
on the rights of others. The domestic slavery of the Southern States I
leave where I find it,--in the hands of their own governments. It is
their affair, not mine. Nor do I complain of the peculiar effect which
the magnitude of that population has had in the distribution of power
under this Federal government. We know, Sir, that the representation of
the States in the other house is not equal. We know that great advantage
in that respect is enjoyed by the slave-holding States; and we know,
too, that the intended equivalent for that advantage, that is to say,
the imposition of direct taxes in the same ratio, has become merely
nominal, the habit of the government being almost invariably to collect
its revenue from other sources and in other modes. Nevertheless, I do
not complain; nor would I countenance any movement to alter this
arrangement of representation. It is the original bargain, the compact;
let it stand; let the advantage of it be fully enjoyed. The Union itself
is too full of benefit to be hazarded in propositions for changing its
original basis. I go for the Constitution as it is, and for the Union as
it is. But I am resolved not to submit in silence to accusations, either
against myself individually or against the North, wholly unfounded and
unjust,--accusations which impute to us a disposition to evade the
constitutional compact, and to extend the power of the government over
the internal laws and domestic condition of the States. All such
accusations, wherever and whenever made, all insinuations of the
existence of any such purposes, I know and feel to be groundless and
injurious. And we must confide in Southern gentlemen themselves; we must
trust to those whose integrity of heart and magnanimity of feeling will
lead them to a desire to maintain and disseminate truth, and who possess
the means of its diffusion with the Southern public; we must leave it to
them to disabuse that public of its prejudices. But in the mean time,
for my own part, I shall continue to act justly, whether those towards
whom justice is exercised receive it with candor or with contumely.

Having had occasion to recur to the Ordinance of 1787, in order to
defend myself against the inferences which the honorable member has
chosen to draw from my former observations on that subject, I am not
willing now entirely to take leave of it without another remark. It need
hardly be said, that that paper expresses just sentiments on the great
subject of civil and religious liberty. Such sentiments were common, and
abound in all our state papers of that day. But this Ordinance did that
which was not so common, and which is not even now universal; that is,
it set forth and declared it to be a high and binding duty of government
itself to support schools and advance the means of education, on the
plain reason that religion, morality, and knowledge are necessary to
good government, and to the happiness of mankind. One observation
further. The important provision incorporated into the Constitution of
the United States, and into several of those of the States, and
recently, as we have seen, adopted into the reformed constitution of
Virginia, restraining legislative power in questions of private right,
and from impairing the obligation of contracts, is first introduced and
established, as far as I am informed, as matter of express written
constitutional law, in this Ordinance of 1787. And I must add, also, in
regard to the author of the Ordinance, who has not had the happiness to
attract the gentleman's notice heretofore, nor to avoid his sarcasm now,
that he was chairman of that select committee of the old Congress, whose
report first expressed the strong sense of that body, that the old
Confederation was not adequate to the exigencies of the country, and
recommended to the States to send delegates to the convention which
formed the present Constitution.

An attempt has been made to transfer from the North to the South the
honor of this exclusion of slavery from the Northwestern Territory. The
journal, without argument or comment, refutes such attempts. The cession
by Virginia was made in March, 1784. On the 19th of April following, a
committee, consisting of Messrs. Jefferson, Chase, and Howell, reported
a plan for a temporary government of the territory, in which was this
article: "That, after the year 1800, there shall be neither slavery nor
involuntary servitude in any of the said States, otherwise than in
punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been convicted." Mr.
Spaight of North Carolina moved to strike out this paragraph. The
question was put, according to the form then practised, "Shall these
words stand as a part of the plan?" New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode
Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, seven
States, voted in the affirmative; Maryland, Virginia, and South
Carolina, in the negative. North Carolina was divided. As the consent of
nine States was necessary, the words could not stand, and were struck
out accordingly. Mr. Jefferson voted for the clause, but was overruled
by his colleagues.

In March of the next year (1785), Mr. King of Massachusetts, seconded by
Mr. Ellery of Rhode Island, proposed the formerly rejected article, with
this addition: "And that this regulation shall be an article of compact,
and remain a fundamental principle of the constitutions between the
thirteen original States, and each of the States described in the
resolve." On this clause, which provided the adequate and thorough
security, the eight Northern States at that time voted affirmatively,
and the four Southern States negatively. The votes of nine States were
not yet obtained, and thus the provision was again rejected by the
Southern States. The perseverance of the North held out, and two years
afterwards the object was attained. It is no derogation from the credit,
whatever that may be, of drawing the Ordinance, that its principles had
before been prepared and discussed, in the form of resolutions. If one
should reason in that way, what would become of the distinguished honor
of the author of the Declaration of Independence? There is not a
sentiment in that paper which had not been voted and resolved in the
assemblies, and other popular bodies in the country, over and over

But the honorable member has now found out that this gentleman, Mr.
Dane, was a member of the Hartford Convention. However uninformed the
honorable member may be of characters and occurrences at the North, it
would seem that he has at his elbow, on this occasion, some high-minded
and lofty spirit, some magnanimous and true-hearted monitor, possessing
the means of local knowledge, and ready to supply the honorable member
with every thing, down even to forgotten and moth-eaten two-penny
pamphlets, which may be used to the disadvantage of his own country. But
as to the Hartford Convention, Sir, allow me to say, that the
proceedings of that body seem now to be less read and studied in New
England than farther South. They appear to be looked to, not in New
England, but elsewhere, for the purpose of seeing how far they may serve
as a precedent. But they will not answer the purpose, they are quite too
tame. The latitude in which they originated was too cold. Other
conventions, of more recent existence, have gone a whole bar's length
beyond it. The learned doctors of Colleton and Abbeville have pushed
their commentaries on the Hartford collect so far, that the original
text-writers are thrown entirely into the shade. I have nothing to do,
Sir, with the Hartford Convention. Its journal, which the gentleman has
quoted, I never read. So far as the honorable member may discover in its
proceedings a spirit in any degree resembling that which was avowed and
justified in those other conventions to which I have alluded, or so far
as those proceedings can be shown to be disloyal to the Constitution, or
tending to disunion, so far I shall be as ready as any one to bestow on
them reprehension and censure.

Having dwelt long on this convention, and other occurrences of that day,
in the hope, probably, (which will not be gratified,) that I should
leave the course of this debate to follow him at length in those
excursions, the honorable member returned, and attempted another object.
He referred to a speech of mine in the other house, the same which I had
occasion to allude to myself, the other day; and has quoted a passage or
two from it, with a bold, though uneasy and laboring, air of confidence,
as if he had detected in me an inconsistency. Judging from the
gentleman's manner, a stranger to the course of the debate and to the
point in discussion would have imagined, from so triumphant a tone, that
the honorable member was about to overwhelm me with a manifest
contradiction. Any one who heard him, and who had not heard what I had,
in fact, previously said, must have thought me routed and discomfited,
as the gentleman had promised. Sir, a breath blows all this triumph
away. There is not the slightest difference in the purport of my remarks
on the two occasions. What I said here on Wednesday is in exact
accordance with the opinion expressed by me in the other house in 1825.
Though the gentleman had the metaphysics of Hudibras, though he were

"to sever and divide
A hair 'twixt north and northwest side,"

he yet could not insert his metaphysical scissors between the fair
reading of my remarks in 1825, and what I said here last week. There is
not only no contradiction, no difference, but, in truth, too exact a
similarity, both in thought and language, to be entirely in just taste.
I had myself quoted the same speech; had recurred to it, and spoke with
it open before me; and much of what I said was little more than a
repetition from it. In order to make finishing work with this alleged
contradiction, permit me to recur to the origin of this debate, and
review its course. This seems expedient, and may be done as well now as
at any time.

Well, then, its history is this. The honorable member from Connecticut
moved a resolution, which constitutes the first branch of that which is
now before us; that is to say, a resolution, instructing the committee
on public lands to inquire into the expediency of limiting, for a
certain period, the sales of the public lands, to such as have
heretofore been offered for sale; and whether sundry offices connected
with the sales of the lands might not be abolished without detriment to
the public service. In the progress of the discussion which arose on
this resolution, an honorable member from New Hampshire moved to amend
the resolution, so as entirely to reverse its object; that is, to strike
it all out, and insert a direction to the committee to inquire into the
expediency of adopting measures to hasten the sales, and expend more
rapidly the surveys, of the lands.

The honorable member from Maine[1] suggested that both those
propositions might well enough go for consideration to the committee;
and in this state of the question, the member from South Carolina
addressed the Senate in his first speech. He rose, he said, to give us
his own free thoughts on the public lands. I saw him rise with pleasure,
and listened with expectation, though before he concluded I was filled
with surprise. Certainly, I was never more surprised, than to find him
following up, to the extent he did, the sentiments and opinions which
the gentleman from Missouri had put forth, and which it is known he has
long entertained.

I need not repeat at large the general topics of the honorable
gentleman's speech. When he said yesterday that he did not attack the
Eastern States, he certainly must have forgotten, not only particular
remarks, but the whole drift and tenor of his speech; unless he means by
not attacking, that he did not commence hostilities, but that another
had preceded him in the attack. He, in the first place, disapproved of
the whole course of the government, for forty years, in regard to its
disposition of the public lands; and then, turning northward and
eastward, and fancying he had found a cause for alleged narrowness and
niggardliness in the "accursed policy of the tariff", to which he
represented the people of New England as wedded, he went on for a full
hour with remarks, the whole scope of which was to exhibit the results
of this policy, in feelings and in measures unfavorable to the West. I
thought his opinions unfounded and erroneous, as to the general course
of the government, and ventured to reply to them.

The gentleman had remarked on the analogy of other cases, and quoted the
conduct of European governments towards their own subjects settling on
this continent, as in point, to show that we had been harsh and rigid in
selling, when we should have given the public lands to settlers without
price. I thought the honorable member had suffered his judgment to be
betrayed by a false analogy; that he was struck with an appearance of
resemblance where there was no real similitude. I think so still. The
first settlers of North America were enterprising spirits, engaged in
private adventure, or fleeing from tyranny at home. When arrived here,
they were forgotten by the mother country, or remembered only to be
oppressed. Carried away again by the appearance of analogy, or struck
with the eloquence of the passage, the honorable member yesterday
observed, that the conduct of government towards the Western emigrants,
or my representation of it, brought to his mind a celebrated speech in
the British Parliament. It was, Sir, the speech of Colonel Barre. On the
question of the stamp act, or tea tax, I forget which, Colonel Barre had
heard a member on the treasury bench argue, that the people of the
United States, being British colonists, planted by the maternal care,
nourished by the indulgence, and protected by the arms of England, would
not grudge their mite to relieve the mother country from the heavy
burden under which she groaned. The language of Colonel Barre, in reply
to this, was: "They planted by your care? Your oppression planted them
in America. They fled from your tyranny, and grew by your neglect of
them. So soon as you began to care for them, you showed your care by
sending persons to spy out their liberties, misrepresent their
character, prey upon them, and eat out their substance."

And how does the honorable gentleman mean to maintain, that language
like this is applicable to the conduct of the government of the United
States towards the Western emigrants, or to any representation given by
me of that conduct? Were the settlers in the West driven thither by our
oppression? Have they flourished only by our neglect of them? Has the
government done nothing but prey upon them, and eat out their substance?
Sir, this fervid eloquence of the British speaker, just when and where
it was uttered, and fit to remain an exercise for the schools, is not a
little out of place, when it is brought thence to be applied here to the
conduct of our own country towards her own citizens. From America to
England, it may be true; from Americans to their own government, it
would be strange language. Let us leave it, to be recited and declaimed
by our boys against a foreign nation; not introduce it here, to recite
and declaim ourselves against our own.

But I come to the point of the alleged contradiction. In my remarks on
Wednesday, I contended that we could not give away gratuitously all the
public lands; that we held them in trust; that the government had
solemnly pledged itself to dispose of them as a common fund for the
common benefit, and to sell and settle them as its discretion should
dictate. Now, Sir, what contradiction does the gentleman find to this
sentiment in the speech of 1825? He quotes me as having then said, that
we ought not to hug these lands as a very great treasure. Very well,
Sir, supposing me to be accurately reported in that expression, what is
the contradiction? I have not now said, that we should hug these lands
as a favorite source of pecuniary income. No such thing. It is not my
view. What I have said, and what I do say, is, that they are a common
fund, to be disposed of for the common benefit, to be sold at low prices
for the accommodation of settlers, keeping the object of settling the
lands as much in view as that of raising money from them. This I say
now, and this I have always said. Is this hugging them as a favorite
treasure? Is there no difference between hugging and hoarding this fund,
on the one hand, as a great treasure, and, on the other, of disposing of
it at low prices, placing the proceeds in the general treasury of the
Union? My opinion is, that as much is to be made of the land as fairly
and reasonably may be, selling it all the while at such rates as to give
the fullest effect to settlement. This is not giving it all away to the
States, as the gentleman would propose; nor is it hugging the fund
closely and tenaciously, as a favorite treasure; but it is, in my
judgment, a just and wise policy, perfectly according with all the
various duties which rest on government. So much for my contradiction.
And what is it? Where is the ground of the gentleman's triumph? What
inconsistency in word or doctrine has he been able to detect? Sir, if
this be a sample of that discomfiture with which the honorable gentleman
threatened me, commend me to the word _discomfiture_ for the rest of my

But, after all, this is not the point of the debate; and I must now
bring the gentleman back to what is the point.

The real question between me and him is, Has the doctrine been advanced
at the South or the East, that the population of the West should be
retarded, or at least need not be hastened, on account of its effect to
drain off the people from the Atlantic States? Is this doctrine, as has
been alleged, of Eastern origin? That is the question. Has the gentleman
found any thing by which he can make good his accusation? I submit to
the Senate, that he has entirely failed; and, as far as this debate has
shown, the only person who has advanced such sentiments is a gentleman
from South Carolina, and a friend of the honorable member himself. The
honorable gentleman has given no answer to this; there is none which can


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