Page images
PDF
EPUB

tell gentlemen, that is perhaps as awful a one as any on this side of the grave. This attack upon our constitution will form a great epoch in the history of our government. In the important changes we read of, in the systems of other governments, we find some públic benefit to have been intended; something plausible at least was offered in justification. But here, “ when we are in the full tide of experimental success," a revolution commences without any necessity or pretence. It is not to be presumed the executive has been incited to this by the paltry consideration of saving 30,000 dollars. He has proved, by his expenditures, since the fourth of March, that our nation is not in great want of money. The fact is, sir, that so good was the management by the past administration of our fiscal concerns, that our treasury overflows with money; to this cause may be ascribed some of the great expenditures made during the recess, and which to me appear to have been perfectly useless; but perhaps they were not so. Although the senate, last session, appointed a minister to France; immediately upon its rising, the executive appointed another honourable gentleman (who now sits near me) envoy to carry over the treaty; although the French had called in their cruisers, and for us it was a time of profound peace—this gentleman was sent over in a man of war, at an enormous expense. If gentlemen will look at the printed report of the secretary of the navy, for the last year, of money necessary to be appro , they will read in page 52, that the expenses of the ship Maryland are estimated for a year at 57,269 dollars 77 cents. The Maryland was seven months in carrying our envoy, waiting his orders, and returning to America; and for seven months the expense of this ship would be thirty-three thousand four hundred and seven dollars. Perhaps all this was wise and necessary on the part of the executive. I barely state the fact. Another which I will

notice is, that without waiting for the final ratification of the treaty, or for congress to make appropriations for its fulfilment, the executive had the ship Berceau repaired to be delivered up to the French government, at the enormous cost of 30,000 dollars. Besides this, the officers were paid when at Boston, six dollars per day. How does all this agree with assailing the most precious part of our constitution to save a little money. But if I am under any delusion, and we are not rich; if we want to save and must save money; let us turn to something else; let us begin with ourselves. The speaker of this house receives twelve dollars a day, give him six;—we receive six, let us be content with three; on our side we cheerfully agree to this reduction. If gentlemen will look at the catalogue of expenses under the head of “ Legislature,” they will find a number of items which if summed up will amount to 193,470 dollars; let us retrench as I have proposed, and save to the nation one half of this sum; we will in doing so save nearly 100,000 dollars a year.

Sir, gentlemen may depend upon it the people of this country are too intelligent to ascribe this measure to the mere desire of saving a little money; they will view it as the vengeance of an irritated majority. I conjure gentlemen to celebrate their victory by more harmless sports. Let them triumph over us, but not by immolating the constitution; let them beware, that in erecting a triumphal arch for the celebration of their success, they do not dig a grave, and decree funeral rites for our constitution. I repeat again, that this is not a way to save money. If saving really be the object, let our opponents procure it by more gentle means. To attempt saving a little money, by injuring the constitution, would be like taking from the foundation to patch the roof: like digging up for use the roots of a tree, instead of lopping off the boughs. To the confidence inspired by the independency of our

judges, are we indebted for much of our national prosperity. Pass this law and the tribunals of America will be like those of France, as described by the most brilliant scholar and sagacious statesman of this age. On the subject of the French judges, Mr. Burke has said, “In them it will be in vain to look for any appearance of justice towards strangers; towards the obnoxious rich; towards the minority of routed parties; towards all those who in the election have supported unsuccessful candidates. The new tribunals will be governed by the spirit of faction."--I feel myself much honoured, Mr. Chairman, by the great attention the committee have given to my observations. They have, I fear, exhausted all your stock of patience. I find they have exhausted all my strength; but the magnitude of the subject will, I trust, be an apology for their length. Permit me here to ex. press my sorrow, at hearing the declaration of an honourable gentleman from Pennsylvania, (Mr. Gregg,) who yesterday, after joining in the call for the question, rose, and said it was useless to continue the debate, as the minds of the majority were fully made up. It seems then, gentlemen are not open to conviction, and that they are determined to violate the sanctuary. Myself, and my friends, will not, however, be deterred by this menace. We have always been the sincere friends of this constitution, and we will attempt its defence as long as we have the means of making it. We will struggle to the last; if we cannot command success, we will endeavour to de. serve it;—and should the friends of the constitution be subdued by numbers, the ministerial phalanx, in bursting into the temple will, I hope, find them all at their posts; they will be seen in the portico, the vestibule, and around the altar, grasping, grappling the constitution of their country with the holds of death, and with nollumus mutari on their lips.

133

SPEECH OF MR. BAYARD,

ON THE JUDICIARY ESTABLISHMENT.

MR. CHAIRMAN, I MUST be allowed to express my surprise at the course pursued by the honourable gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Giles) in the remarks which he has made on the subject before us. I had expected that he would have adopted a different line of conduct. I had expected it as well from that sentiment of magnanimity which ought to have been inspired by a sense of the high ground he holds on the floor of this house, as from the professions of a desire to conciliate, which he has so repeatedly made during the session.—We have been invited to bury the hatchet, and brighten the chain of peace. We were disposed to meet on middle ground.-We had assurances from the gentleman, that he would abstain from reflections on the past, and that his only wish was that we might unite in future in promoting the welfare of our common country.--We confided in the gentleman's sincerity, and cherished the hope, that if the divisions of party were not banished from the house, its spirit would be rendered less intemperate. Such were our impressions, when the mask was suddenly thrown aside, and we saw the torch of discord lighted and blazing before our eyes. Every effort has been made to revive the animosities of the house, and to inflame the passions of the nation. I am at no loss to perceive why this course has been pursued. The gentleman has been unwilling to rely upon the strength of his subject, and has therefore determined to make the measure a party question. He has pro

bably secured success, but would it not have been more honourable and more commendable to have left the deci. sion of a great constitutional question to the understanding and not to the prejudices of the house. It was my ardent wish to discuss the subject with calmness and de. liberation, and I did intend to avoid every topic which could awaken the sensibility of party.—This was my temper and design when I took my seat yesterday. It is a course at present we are no longer at liberty to pursue. The gentleman has wandered far, very far from the points of the debate, and has extended his animadversions to all the prominent measures of the former administrations. In following him through his preliminary observations, I necessarily lose sight of the bill upon your table.

The gentleman commenced his strictures with the philosophic observation, that it was the fate of mankind to hold different opinions as to the form of government which was preferable. That some were attached to the monarchical, while others thought the republican more eligible. This, as an abstract remark, is certainly true, and could have furnished no ground of offence, if it had not evidently appeared that an allusion was designed to be made to the parties in this country. Does the gentleman suppose that we have a less lively recollection than himself of the oath which we have taken to support the constitution; that we are less sensible of the spirit of our government, or less devoted to the wishes of our constituents? What. ever impression it might be the intention of the gentle. man to make, he does not believe that there exists in the country an anti-republican party. He will not venture to assert such an opinion on the floor of this house. That there may be a few individuals having a preference for monarchy is not improbable; but will the gentleman from Virginia, or any other gentleman affirm in his place, that there is a party in the country who wish to establish mo

« PreviousContinue »