Sunday, December 02, 2007

"Who Made Him His Brother's Keeper?"

John Randolph's March 30, 1826 Senate speech inveighing against John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay, discussed in a post yesterday, is so bizarre that I thought I'd provide another excerpt.

Here Randolph displays his stream-of-consciousness/free association style, moving from Adams the Son to Adams the Father and then back to Son again, intermingled with references to a French revolutionary, British statesmen, Randolph's brother, and Randolph himself playing hooky as a boy, over thirty years earlier. Randolph's vicious wit is also in evidence. I have added paragraph breaks for readability:
Now, sir, John Quincy Adams coming into power under these inauspicious circumstances, and with these suspicious allies and connexions, has determined to become the apostle of liberty, as his father was, about the time of the formation of the Constitution, known to be the apostle of monarchy. It is no secret -- I was in New York when he first took his seat as Vice President. I recollect -- for I was a school boy at the time, attending the lobby of Congress, when I ought to have been at school -- I remember the manner in which my brother was spurned by the coachman of the then Vice President, for coming too near the arms blazoned on the scutcheon of the Vice-Regal carriage.

Perhaps I may have some of this old animosity rankling in my heart, and, coming from a race who are known never to forsake a friend or forgive an enemy -- I am taught to forgive my enemies, and I do from the bottom of my heart, most sincerely, as I hope to be forgiven; but it is my enemies -- not the enemies of my country; for, if they come here in the shape of the English, it is my duty to kill them; if they come here in a worse shape -- wolves in sheep's clothing -- it is my duty and my business to tear the sheep skins from their backs, and, as Windham said to Pitt, open the bosom and expose beneath the ruffled shirt the filthy dowlas.

. . . [John Quincy] Adams determined to take warning by his father's errors, but in attempting the perpendicular, he bent as much the other way. Who would believe that Adams, the son of the sedition-law President, who held office under his father -- who up to Dec. 6, 1807, was the undeviating, staunch adherent to the opposition to Jefferson's Administration, then almost gone -- who would believe he had selected for his pattern, the celebrated Anacharsis Cloots, "orator of the human race?"

As Anacharsis was the orator of the human race, so Adams was determined to be the President of the human race, when I am not willing that he should be President of my name and race; but he is, and must be, till the third day of March, eighteen hundred and -- I forget when. He has come out with a speech and a message, and with a doctrine that goes to take the whole human family under his special protection. Now, sir, who made him his brother's keeper? Who gave him, the President of the United States, the custody of the liberties, or the rights, or the interests of South America, or any other America, save only the United States of America, or any other country under the sun?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails