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of a general nature will be applied to them. But if, at this period, when the intellectual power and illumination of the bench is so universally admitted, a precedent be set, by which the great facts in a trial for life and death shall be wrested from the jury and decided by the bench --what use may not be made of it hereafter:- In the Auctuations of party-in the bitterness and rancour of political animosity-some tyrant Brumley, or some ruffian Jeffries may mount the bench!—can the soul look forward, without horror, to the dark and bloody deeds of death which he might perpetrate, armed with such a precedent as you are now called on to set. But you will not set it, sir. You will not bring your country to see an hour so fearful and perilous as that which shall witness the ruin of the trial by jury. I shudder to reflect what might be the consequences of such an hour.
I have finished what I had to say, sir: I thank the court for its patient and polite attention. I am too much exhausted to recapitulate, and to such a court as this I am sure it is unnecessary.
SPEECH OF MR. HUGHES,
ON GEN. WILKINSON'S PROCEEDINGS AT NEW ORLEANS.
THE extraordinary measures adopted by Gen. Wilkinson, in New Orleans, for the avowed purpose of defeating the treasonable designs imputed to Colonel Burr, produced in that city, and generally throughout the territory of which it was the capital, a very strong sensation. The subject occupied for a long time the attention of the local legislature. Mr. Hughes, a member of the house of representatives, proposed that a joint memorial from both
branches of the legislature, should be sent to congress to inform them of these proceedings and to solicit redress. The memorial was as follows: we give it at length, as it will enable our readers more fully to understand and appreciate the speeches made in its support.
MEMORIAL: To the Honourable the Senate and House of Representa
tives of the United States, in Congress assembled. EXTRAORDINARY and alarming events, oblige the legislative council and house of representatives of the territory of Orleans, to appear in the character of complainants, at the bar of your honourable body.
Among the privileges secured to us by the treaty of cession, were some which congress thought of so much importance, that they hastened to bestow them as an earnest of the further benefits we were taught to expect. We knew how to appreciate them; and read with satisfaction in the first law passed for our government, the provision, that “the inhabitants of the said territory, shall be entitled to the benefits of the writ of habeas corpus. They shall be bailable, unless for capital offences, where the proof is evident or the presumption great, and no cruel or unusual punishment shall be inflicted.”
Whenever we have been tempted to complain that other privileges, deemed by us essential, were withheld, we have been reminded of former periods in our history, when liberty was only a tenancy at the will of our superiors, and told to be grateful for the extension of a remedy against every species of illegal, personal violence; we examined the nature of this provision, and saw in its theory an admirable contrivance to secure the liberty of the citizen; we enquired into its operation, and found that its practice had produced the correspondent effect; and we considered
this assurance of personal, as the first step to political independence.
Secured from the dread of legal punishment by a determination not to merit it, and safe in the protecting power of the law against all attacks on our reputation or property, we assumed the plain but lofty port of freedom, and looked forward to the period when 60,000 citizens, who had by enjoying, learned to appreciate their rights, should unite in assuming an equal rank in the great federal family; a station to which “Nature and nature's Gud,” has destined them. Under these anticipations, our government experienced another change. And here again we rejoiced to find the invaluable privileges of personal security, re-assured with other provisions equally important. In the second article of the ordinance, it is declared that “the inhabitants of said territory shall always be entitled to the benefits of the writ of habeas corpus and of a trial by jury—that all persons shall be bailable, unless for capital offences, when the proof is evident or the presumption great, and that no man shall be deprived of his liberty or property, but by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land.” We view with admiration, and as children of the great American family, claim a participation in the benefits of the constitutional provisions contained in the 7th and 8th articles of the amendments of the constitution, and fear not the disapprobation of congress, when we contend that within this territory “no person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war, or public danger.” And that in all criminal productions the accused “shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously as
certained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favour, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence."
We feel a grateful pleasure in referring to these constitutional bulwarks erected for our protection—an honest pride in the consciousness that we have not rendered ourselves unworthy of the blessing—and an indignant grief which we are sure your honourable body will participate, in the reflection that the noblest plan ever devised for the protection of personal liberty—the finest theory ever imagined for the restraint of arbitrary power, should, before we had well seen its operation, be rendered abortive; that the best gift offered by the United States should be violently torn from our grasp, and that, while its constitutional guardians looked tamely on, the holy temple of justice should be sacrilegiously rifled of this revered palladium of our rights.
The annexed documents support the following statement of facts, to which we entreat the immediate and efficient attention of the proper branches of government.
The return of the regular forces to this city in last, announced to us the settlement of our differences with Spain upon our frontiers, and we felt grateful to those who had been instrumental in tranquillizing the country. But our tranquillity was of short duration. Measures were soon put into operation which filled the city with alarm, and every thinking mind with the apprehension of the most sinister events. Very active preparations were made for defence, but the utmost mystery observed as to the cause; rumours were put into circulation of an intent to proclaim martial law; and the old forts which command the city were repaired. At length, when a sufficient degree of alarm had been created, the merchants of the city were invited to convene at the government house on the VOL. II.
day of December last, and many of them attended. They were met by the Governor of this Territory, and Brigadier General Wilkinson. The latter communicated to them that the preparations then making were to oppose Col. Burr, who had formed a plan to sever the western from the Atlantic states, and to invade the province of Mexico. That in the prosecution of these objects, he tvould himself be at Natchez, with two thousand men, by the 20th of December, and would soon after be joined by a body of six thousand men. That with this force he would march down to this city, take possession of it, plunder the banks, and seize the shipping to transport his army, under con. voy of a British feet, to La Vera Cruz.
This information, he said, he had received, partly by a letter from Mr. Burr addressed to him (the General) written in cypher, and dated the received by him, at Natchitoches, on the 16th of October last; which letter, or a decyphered copy, he produced; and which, among other things, acknowledged the receipt of one from the general of the 6th of the preceding month, and asked his advice as to the propriety of taking Baton Rouge on his way down. Other parts of the plan, not contained in the letter, he stated had been communicated by a messenger from Mr. Burr, who had been sent to him at Natchitoches.
The governor supported the general in a speech, in which he stated his belief in the existence of the danger, and read a letter, which he said was anonymous, but the hand writing of which he knew to be that of a respectable gentleman in Tennessee. The parts of this letter which were read, advised him to beware of traitors--to beware of the month of December--to beware of the Ides of Marchấto beware of the general; and gave hints of some design against the city; it has since been discovered that this letter was actually signed A. Jackson, and advised the