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Title: "Should the Office of Chief Magistrate Be Awarded to One Distinguished for His Military Services Rather Than to One Distinguished for His Civil Services?" Debate Speech of Leonard Henderson Taylor for the Dialectic Society, June 22, 1836: Electronic Edition.
Author: Taylor, Leonard Henderson, b. 1819
Editor: Erika Lindemann
Funding from the State Library of North Carolina supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Erika Lindemann
Images scanned by Mara E. Dabrishus
Text encoded by Sarah Ficke
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 32K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2005
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text
The electronic edition is a part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2005-03-15, Sarah Ficke finished TEI/XML encoding.
Part of a series:
This transcribed document is part of a digital collection, titled True and Candid Compositions: The Lives and Writings of Antebellum Students in North Carolina
written by Lindemann, Erika
Source(s):
Title of collection: Dialectic Society Records (#40152), University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: "Should the Office of Chief Magistrate Be Awarded to One Distinguished for His Military Services Rather Than to One Distinguished for His Civil Services?" Debate Speech of Leonard Henderson Taylor for the Dialectic Society, June 22, 1836
Author: Leonard HendersonTaylor
Description: 8 pages, 8 page images
Note: Call number 40152 (University Archives, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Topics covered:
Politics and Government/Constitution of the United States
Politics and Government/Government and Governing Bodies
Examples of Student Writing/Debating Society Writings
Social and Moral Issues/Other Social and Moral Issues
Editorial practices
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Document Summary

Taylor's debate speech favors a military background in a President because he can defend the rights of the people against invasion and tyranny.
"Should the Office of Chief Magistrate Be Awarded to One Distinguished for His Military Services Rather Than to One Distinguished for His Civil Services?" Debate Speech of Leonard Henderson Taylor for the Dialectic Society, June 22, 18361
Taylor, Leonard Henderson, b. 1819



Page 1
Whether should the suffrages of a free people- be bestowed on one distinguished
for his military services—rather than to one distinguished for his skill in
the Cabinet?

Mr. President

The gentleman who has just addressed the house, after a slight reversion to the happy condition of our as yet infant though prosperous republic, has with great propriety dwelt more fully, upon the great importance of the office of its chief-magistrate—& of the extreme care & circumspection, to be exercised in his selection. As the last great experiment of democracy, its course is ever watched with anxious solicitude, by the advocates of true liberty, as the "bright autumnal star" whose ascent, or whose fall, will irrevocably decide the momentous question, "whether the people are capable of self-government". As the beacon that guides the few rising republics of the present day, which its rays have warmed into life, its fate will ever embrace their fortunes. To give perpetuity to our free institutions, prosperity & happiness to our country, is the great end which we have in view—in filling the responsible office of President. But sir,—as to the most proper means of effecting this great object—I am compelled to differ with the gentleman. Our chief magistrate ought in my opinion- to be a military character. The combination of the civil & military powers of a government constitute the basis of its national freedom. Though they when united, procure for us,—peace happiness & security—yet when viewed apart—their claims to equal contribution are by no means indefeasible. A wise civil administration is indeed indispensibly necessary to the prosperity of a government;—but without that security, which is alone procured by military power—the personal safety of its citizens would ever continue a source of uneasiness—and2

Page 2
the administration itself—deprived of its most powerful support, would find itself incapable either of affording3 protection, or of maintaining its authority. Sir, the spirit of liberty is a jealous one.—Jealous of it's security as the guardian of its rights against all external invasion. As the preserver of that national character, which confirms to it, a place among the nations of the earth,—& the rights & priviledges of a free people—it looks to the military chief[t]ain 4 as the proper person, in whom to confide its fortunes. And it is in accordance with the strictest policy- that it should be so. It is to the military chieftain, that we look for that firmness & descision of character—that promptitude of action, which should ever distinguish him, who rules the destinies of a nation. What, sir, would we presage to be the fate of a government, devoid of this most essential qualification? What sir, I would ask, has history already shown us? Its unerring page records in letters of blood its dismal train of calamity bloodshed & devastation. The want of this one principle in one man oftentimes involves his whole country in ruin;—"opens the flood-gates of faction & discord"—whose swelling torrent rushes throughout the land, impregnating the pure air of heaven with its baleful & peace-destroying vapour; he sees the sacred name of his country, mocked by i[t]s5 insulting foes—its ambassadors treated with indignity—the sacred principle of treaty violated—and his own citizens impressed into foreign service.—And what sir, I would again ask, would have been the condition of our own glorious republic; in those trying times of its present administration, when the brand of infamy was menaced to to the first patriot of his age, had not his unwavering firmness carried him through the conflict—unawed & undismayed—his own bright character, rendered more burnished;

Page 3
and his recreant defamers crushed by the recoil of their own malicious weapons. It is perfectly consistent with the experience of past ages, that a man may possess "skill in the cabinet"—yet be wanting in these characteristic qualities of a military capacity. He may possess thorough knowledge of government—skill in diplomacy—acquaintance with the affairs of foreign nations—and abilities for the facilitation of commerce & yet be a weak man. Cicero, the greatest states-man of his age, was terror-struck by the martial display of the military, around the place, which daily echoed with the burst of his mighty eloquence & humbly cringed to the man whom in his heart he despised. Demosthenes at once its oracle—& the guardian of his country's glory; in the last great struggle of its expiring liberty, ingloriously ground his arms- and in his flight, mistaking the scratch of a bush for the grasp of a soldier—with a "blanched cheek and quivering lip"—begs that his life should be spared. What confidance could a people repose in a ruler of this kind. And yet sir, because he is skilled in the cabinet, (which is generally is but the misnomer for skill in intrigue & cabal) he is entitled to take charge of the "vessel of state" and guide it through the stormy seas, which shake the nerves of the stoutest veteran. In short sir, the ruler of a free people should be as it were its panoply of defence;—the bulwark which defies insult & the sword that avenges it;—at once its Marcellus & its Fabius .6 The Gentleman (Mr Avery) objects to the elevation of a military character, to the first offices of state, through fear of a "military despotism" and has adduced several instances to sanction

Page 4
it. Those of CaesarBonaparte &c.—To listen to his eloquent description of their cruelty & tyranny,—their oppression of their subjects—& the prostration of Liberty; we are unavoidably led into his conclusion.—and see with shrinking hearts—the imminent risque—the appalling danger- we incur- in hazarding our liberties upon so delicate a tenure—But sir, listen not to the deceptive voice of eloquence. Let us for a moment trace effects to their generating causes—and see how one could thus subvert the liberties of his country. Examine the history of every age- & you will find the cause to be in the state of the people themselves. It is when a nation becomes a prey to corruption—when it is torn by civil dissentions—when the sacred office of government is prostituted to venal purposes—it is sir, when the temple of Liberty is beginning to totter,—that the bloody standard of the usurper can be planted over its ruins. And not till then. The independance of Rome was virtually lost- before Caesar became its usurper—Their assemblies were the shambles of offices secured by bribery;—the property & honour of the citizens were vio[l]ated;7 —its masters were as numerous as its different factions; and the small thread which bound together the multifarious states of the Republic—so seperate in their interests—seemed ready to burst. The occassion seemed imperiously to demand some master-spirit, to quiet the jarring elements—and unite them into one body. Let us now examine the position of the gentleman, with respect to the French Revolution, & the efferts of those patriots which "would have been crowned with success but for the usurpation of Napoleon Bonaparte ". That the French people ardently desired Liberty—is what I do not intend to deny: but

Page 5
that they in their then-existing state of affairs were incapable of self-government- I will endeavor to show. Groaning under a state of oppression in which they had long laboured; by the bloody execution of their king, the French nation emerged into a state of comparative anarchy. Fired by a spirit, hitherto unknown to them, and rendered enthusiastic by the happy termination of our struggles, & their own unrestrained condition, through a mistaken notion of liberty, they gave themselves up to the most extravagant excesses—Like a lion just burst from his prison—it vents its rage upon every supposed foe:—the adherents of the unfortunate king, were inhumanly persecuted—& all those who appeared inimical to their designs were sacrificed to their fury. Par[t]y-rage8 & discord were now become the rulers of the Republic. From them, sprung RobespeareDanton & Murat [Jean Paul Marat?], who deluged it in blood. A corruption that has become proverbial, universally prevailed. The fanaticism, which characterized the regiscides, spread like wild-fire, from the Loire to the Rhine;—the divine institution of the sabbath was abolished;—and devotion publickly ordained to be paid to Liberty—the creature of their own extravagant madness. The deleterious effects of such a state of things, so inimical to the peace & liberty, not only of themselves, but of the world, began universally to be felt; & called for that coalition against them which finally succeeded in restoring peace & harmony. This is what the gentleman is pleased to call "liberty";—Liberty! Observe sir, how easy the yoke of Napoleon was borne. Where was that spirit, which brought the ill-fated Louis to the block.? Why did it not with Bonaparte? see with what open arms, he was recieved when escaped from Elba

Page 6
—Sir, the French nation, has never experienced the sweets of liberty. In the same manner Oliver Cromwell reared himself upon the religious faction & fanaticism of his age:—a fanatacism which absorbed every principle of liberty. Thus we see sir, that for a nation to be subjugated by an usurper, it must have previously lost its liberty freedom. For as long as the pure spirit of liberty, breathes throughout a country—the corrupt & heavy vapour of tyranny will sink beneath its refined atmosphere,
"Unless corruption first deject the pride
And guardian vigor of the free-born soul
All crude attempts of violence are vain
Too firm—within—& while at heart untouched
Ne'er yet by force was Freedom overcame"
Thompsons Liberty 9
Sir, the gentleman has inveighed with much severity against the [l]icentiousness10 of the camp;—which he identifies with a sink of corruption—& school of vice. Such anathemas might well suit the undisciplined & profligate mercinaries of the despot;—but will by no means apply to the soldiery of our Republic. What sir, was the charac[t]eristic11 feature, that distinguished our Patriotic citizens, from the hirelings of King George? What was it sir, that enabled a few half-starved militia, to triumph over the well-fed regulars of a powerful monarch? It was their strict discipline;—that rigour, with which martial law was carried into execution, & that circumspection of our officers, ever acts as a preventative against licentious conduct. The prudent policy of our republic, will not support, a commander of loose principles

Page 7
himself, or who tolerates them in the camp. Entrusted with the care of our liberties,—his selection, is the result of a cool & calculating inquiry;12 —& his movements watched by an anxious & jealous people. & here sir, I would remark the duty incumbent upon the people to endue with the highest gifts in their power, the man from whom they recieved signal military services. It is a debt which they owe to him, & if not canceled, will ever remain a monument of their ingratitude. It is in vain sir, to attempt to extenuate13 the claims of him, who generously offers his own life a sacrifice to the interests of his country; & who perhaps has spilt his blood in her cause;—to its most ample remuneration. It was the ardent love of his native soil—that called forth the noble sacrifice, and the zealous devotion of the patriot, which makes its security—the Palladium of his heart. And it is too often the case, that private aggrandizement is the ruling principle—which moulds the character of the statesman, and gives direction to his talents. And we have no surety, that his promotion will engender sentiments incongruous with the uniform tenor of his life. If the protector of his country is denied the participation in its civil affairs,—what recompense shall he recieve for his services? Shall those heroic deeds, which have won for it the blessings of liberty, and emblazoned its historic page,—be recompensed by the mere paltry expressions of gratitude & respect? Or still less; shall they be acknowledged by that ill-devised expedient—of increasing his labors, by promotion in his arduous occupation?. Instead of rewarding him for services already performed—to make the obligation, more binding

Page 8
by imposing new duties upon him. Mr President, shall the supporter of his country's indepence,—after the perilous conflict of battle is over,—covered with wounds—the price of its freedom—be requited by the unsolid recompense,- of posthumous fame? shall a marble column, be raised over his grave—as if to illicit from more generous posterity,—that tribute of patriotism to him,—when dead,—which they refused him—when living? Is this the recompense of toil & suffering? Is it, the recompense of pa[t]riotism 14? Forbid it gratitude!! Forbid it justice!! Then let our glorious Republic, never permit its military spirit, to languish. through want of patronage;—but cherish it—as the keystone of the mighty fabric, upon which—all our hopes—all our fortunes—are concentred. Should this decay we then should bid to liberty & independence—a long—an eternal—adieu


L.. H Taylor of Granville
in reply to
W. W Avery of Burke
Debate

Taylor 15

Endnotes:

1. Dialectic Society Addresses, UA. Someone, possibly Taylor , wrote at the top of the page "Dialectic Hall. June 23 1836." Because the debates were "ordered filed" in the Society's archives, June 23, 1836, may represent the date on which Taylor turned in his speech. Dialectic Society minutes make clear that the debate itself was held on June 22, 1836.

2. Taylor wrote a on top of A.

3. Taylor wrote —itself incapable either of affording— on top of several erased, unrecovered characters.

4. Taylor wrote chieflain.

5. Taylor wrote ils.

6. During the Second Punic War (218-201 BCE), Marcus Claudius Marcellus (c. 268-208 BCE) conquered Syracuse in 211 BCE and plundered the city, bringing thousands of sculptures and other works of art to Rome and transforming the city into an attractive, cosmopolitan center. Roman elders criticized Marcellus because the decorated temples became tourist attractions, tempting the people to want additional luxuries and to waste the day in small talk about art. Two years later, when Fabius Maximus Verrucosus (d. 203 BCE) sacked the Italian town of Tarentum, he took 30,000 captives and thousands of pounds of gold and silver, but he left statues and art behind, earning the respect of conservative Romans.

7. Taylor wrote viotated.

8. Taylor wrote Parly-rage.

9. James Thomson, "Greece," Liberty, lines 490-94 (1735-36).

10. Taylor wrote ticentiousness.

11. Taylor wrote characleristic.

12. Taylor wrote inquiry on top of several unrecovered characters.

13. Taylor wrote extenuate on top of several unrecovered characters.

14. Taylor wrote palriotism.

15. "Debate/Taylor " appears parallel to the right margin of the page and perpendicular to the rest of the text. Taylor ends in a flourish.