Page images
PDF
EPUB

I

H. Ok R.]

from the electors an equal number of votes, did not prefer liim who was from Virginia, are we to be charged with an immolation of our constitution? Sir, the gentleman from Virginia was not a member of the last Congress, and lest he should not know the history of the transaction to which he alludes, I will give it

The Electors chosen in the different States gave the same number of votes for Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr; there being a tie, it devolved, by the direction of the constitution, upon the House of Representatives to make an election. We sincerely believed that Mr. Bunwas the best and the most fit man to be President, and we accordingly voted for him; we continued to vote for him six and thirty times; we were anxious to have him elected, and we deprecated the election of the other candidate; but when we found gentlemen were determined not to have the candidate from New York, and said they would have him from Virginia President, or they would have no President, we, who venerated our constitution too sacredly to do any thing which should hazard the loss of it, yielded. We believed Mr. Jefferson radically and on principle hostile to the National constitution; we believed some of the most important featnrea in it obnoxious to him; we believed him desirous of destroying the independence of our Judiciary; we believed him opposed to the Senate as now organized, and we believed him destitute of that degree of energy necessary to maintain the general liberty of the people of the United States. With these impressions deep upon our minds, we should have been traitors to our country had we voted for the gentleman fron Virginia, as long as there was any prospect eft to ns of elevating the gentleman from New York; but when we found the object of our preference was so obnoxious to gentlemen on the other side, that they would hazard the having of no President rather than have him, wo ceased our opposition.* And this is what the honorable member from Virginia has been pleased to call" pushing forward to immolate the constitution."

I regret, Mr. Chairman, being compelled to mention names and say any thing of a personal nature, but I am obliged to do it in pursuing the gentleman from Virginia, who in his extraordinary course has not only mentioned the names of gentlemen, but ascribed unworthy motives for their conduct. He has said Mr. Read and Mr. Green voted for the law under which they got appointments. Although I have abundant proof that neither of these gentlemen solicited their offices, that they were given spontaneously, and without being expected, yet I will merely answer this observation by mentioning what is very generally known to all gentlemen who have been of late in the councils of the nation; it is, that it was the invariable practice of the former Executive to appoint gentlemen to office

* The detail of the vote on the balloting shows this fact, so creditable to South Carolina.

[FEBREiST, lfQ*

without previously advising with them. It is well known that under the law gentlemen us now endeavoring to repeal, Mr. Jay was appointed Chief Justice, and about the same rim* several gentlemen in this House were appoked to some of the most honorable stations isder our Government; the Executive's intention, it is well known, had not been previously notified to them; it is well known they all demised accepting the places proffered to them. Permit me, sir, to give a brief history of the as of Mr. Green, on which the gentleman frco Virginia has dwelt so much.

The district judge in Rhode Island was a> pointed circuit judge, and Mr. Green was appointed district judge. On the fourth day o! March, Mr. Green took his seat in the Senate; the friends of the Administration objected to his keeping it; they said he was a judge, as appeared by the journals of the Senate: the? here made a complete recognition of his appointment as judge, and he vacated his seal After getting home he received his eommncn, in which the blanks had been filled up with it words circuit judge, instead of district jndfe. Mr. Green enclosed his commission to the Eiscntive, in a letter most profoundly respcctM and requested the errors of the clerk in the Be partment of State might be corrected, and b commission made to conform to the appointment, as recorded on the Senatorial joanBL To this letter, which was in highly respectrol terms, the President would not deign to haw any answer given; he pocketed Mr. Green'" commission, and placed another gentleman b his office. This is a history of the appointment of Mr. Green, and the manner in which the President "corrected the procedure."

Sir, the Judiciary is, in the fabric of the constitution, not a Corinthian pillar, not any ornament added by Congress. It is, sir, the grand Doric column; one of three foundation pillars, formed not by Congress, but by the people themselves; it binds together the abutment, is laid _: the foundation of the late fabric of «r Government, and if you demolish it, the grand arch itself will totter and the whole be endangered. We are asked by the gentleman from Virginia if the people want judges to protect them? Yes, sir, in popular governments constitutional checks are necessary for their preservation; the people want to bo protected against themselves; no man is so absurd as to suppose the people collectedly will consent to the prostration of their liberties; but if they be not shielded by some constitutional checks they will suffer them to be destroyed; to 1* destroyed by demagogues, who filch the confidence of the people by pretending to be their friends; demagogues who, at the time they are soothing and cajoling the people, with bland and captivating speeches, are forging chains for them; demagogues who carry daggers in that hearts, and seductive smiles in their hypocritical faces; who are dooming the people to despotism, when they profess to be exclusively IN

Judiciary System.

[graphic]

FEBRUARY, 1802.]
Judiciary System.

[H. OF R. friends of the people. Against such designs desire more anxiously than to be convinced by and artifices were our constitutional checks gentlemen that this measure is not unconstitumade to preserve the people of this country. I tional. Will gentlemen look back to the histories of The gentleman has asked whether, if we had other countries, and then tell us the people here created an army of judges, and given them monhave nothing to apprehend from themselves ? strous high salaries, it would not be right to reWho, sir, proved fatal to the liberties of Rome? | peal the law ; that if the power exists to repeal The courtier of the people; one who professed any law which might have passed on this subto be “the man of the people," who had will-ject, it might not now be used ? and has been ed his fortune to the people, and had exposed pleased to say, we would have created more his will to the public eye; a man who, when a judges and given them higher salaries, if we Crown was proffered to him, shrunk from the had not wanted nerves; and tells my honoffer, and affectedly said, it did not come from orable and learned friend from Delaware that the people. It was Julius Cæsar who prostrat- we were restrained by the same feebleness of ed the liberties of Rome; and yet Cæsar pro- nerve which induced us at the Presidential elecfessed to be the friend of Rome, to be in fact tion to put blank votes into the ballot box. Sir, the people. Who was it, that, in England, de- my friend from Delaware does want that sort stroyed the Representative Government, and of nerve that some gentlemen now discover. concentrated all its powers in his own hands ? Although he is as brave as he is wise, yet in livOne who styled himself the man of the people; ing without fear he will live without reproach, who was plain, nay studiously negligent in his and never make himself liable to the chargé dress ; disdaining to call himself Mister, it was of prostrating the constitution of his counplain unassuming Oliver; Oliver Cromwell, the try; for such a work it is true he has no nerve. friend of the people, the protector of the Com- The observations of one honorable gentleman monwealth. The gentleman from Virginia says from Virginia (Mr. GILES) being now reiterated he would rather live under a despot than a Gov- by another respecting the course of conduct we ernment where the judges are as independent pursued at the Presidential election, shows that as we would wish them to be. Had I his pro- time has not abated the resentment of Virginia pensities, I, like him, would fold my arms and which we excited by our not voting for the look with indifference at this attack upon the Virginia candidate. Permit me here to declare, constitution. It has been my fortune, Mr. sir, that in reviewing all my public conduct, I Chairman, to have visited countries governed can discover no one act of which I am more saby despots. Warned by the suffering of the tisfied than my having put a blank vote into the people I have seen there, I am zealous to avoid ballot-box. Much has been said on this subject. any thing which may establish a despotism here. My friend from Delaware and myself have been It is because I am a republican in principle and denounced by the jacobins of the country; at by birth, and because I love a republican form their civio feasts, and in their drunken frolics, of Government and none other, that I wish to we have been noticed. European renegadoes, keep our constitution unchanged. Independent who have left their ears on the whipping posts judges, at the same time that they are useful to of their respective countries, or who have come the people, are harmless to them. The judges to this country to save their ears, have endeacannot impose taxes ; they cannot raise armies; vored to hang out terrors to us in the public they cannot equip fleets; they cannot enter into prints ; nay, sir, circular letters have been difforeign alliances : these are powers which are fused through the country, charging us with exercised without control by despots; and as the intention of preventing at one time the electhe gentleman from Virginia does not hold des- tion of a President, and at another with the depots in abhorrence, he and I can never agree in sign of defeating the vote of the Electors and our opinions on Government.

making a President by law. This was all a caWhether another honorable gentleman from lumny, and as it relates to the South Carolina Virginia (Mr. RANDOLPH) has derived all the delegation, I declare they had no intention of service from his sling and his stone he had ex defeating the public will; they never heard of pected, or whether he feels acquitted of his any project for making a President by law; promise, and now thinks himself capable of they had but one object in view which they prostrating the Goliath of this House, armed cap- pursued steadily as long as there was any prosà-pie with the constitution of his country, 'I pect of attaining it. The gentleman from Vircannot conjecture. Whether he has discovered ginia and the gentleman from New York had the skill and the prowess of David, or whether an equal number of votes ; we preferred the he is likened to him only by the weapons he latter; we voted for him more than thirty wars with, it is for the committee to judge ; times, but when we found our opponents would for myself I must say, that his high promises not unite with us, and seemed obstinately dehad excited expectations which in me bave not termined to hazard the loss of the constitution been realized, and when the gentleman sat down rather than join us, we ceased to vote ; we told I was sorry to find my objections to the bill on them we cannot vote with you, but by ceasing your table undiminished. I say sorry, for I to vote, by using blank votes, we will give effect can lay my hand upon my heart, and in the to your votes; we will not choose, but we will fulness of sincerity declare, there is nothing I suffer you to choose. Surely, Mr. Chairman,

H. Of R.]

there was nothing in all this which had any aspect towards defeating the public will. Why 1 did not prefer the gentleman who ultimately ■was preferred, has already been mentioned. This is a subject on which I did not expect to be called upon to explain; but the gentlemen from Virginia have called, and it was necessary to answer. Permit me to state, also, that besides the objections common to my friend from Delaware and myself, there was a strong one which I felt with peculiar force. It resulted from a firm belief that the gentleman in question held opinions respecting a certain description of property in my State, which, should they obtain generally, would endanger it, and indeed lessen the value of every other.* Following the example set by his colleague, the gentleman from Virginia has bestowed much censure on the past Administration, and made it a serious charge against them, having appointed under this law a gentleman of Maryland, who he says was not with us formerly, but unfurled his standard in the service of his King, and fought against his countrymen, whom he then deemed rebels. I did not expect, Mr. Chairman, to hear this observation from one of the friends of the Executive. Since the fourth of March last, I thought philosophy had thrown her mantle over all that had passed; that sins were to be forgotten and forgiven, and to prove the sincerity of this forgiving spirit, sinners were to be distinguished by Executive favors. One would have thought so in reviewing Executive conduct; where persons had been imprisoned and fined under our laws, they we know were released; where fines had actually been paid, the officers of Government had been ordered to return them, and not only tories had been appointed to office, but old tones, rank old tories, who had been banished. The present collector of Philadelphia, for the internal revenue, has been appointed since the fourth of March last, and although he never, like the gentleman alluded to, shivered lauces in the service of his King, yet he was actively employed in the more safe service of giving information to the British Generals, and marching before Sir William Howe, decorated with laurels, conducted him into the metropolis of his native State. Sir, there are many instances of this kind. Have gentlemen forgotten the young Englishman who was so busily employed here last winter during the Presidential election, that in seeing him one would really have supposed him not only a member of this House, but, like him of Tennessee, holding an entire vote at his command? This youngster was sent out hero by some merchants in England to collect debts due to them in this country, and his father, whose tory principles carried him from America early in the Revolution, is now subsisting on a royal pension; and this young

• This is tho first authentic declaration that Mr. Jefferson's opinion on slavery was an obstacle to his receiving the

Sooth Carolina vote.

[march, 1802.

man has been appointed our Consul at London, and the former consul, a native and stanch American, whose conduct had been approved by merchants generally, has been turned out to create a vacancy. The gentleman from Vuxinia has repeated the observation of his colleague, that the people are capable of taking care of their own rights, and do not want a corps of judges to protect them. Human nature a the same every where, and man is precisely the same sort of being in the New World that he i» in the Old. The citizens of other Republics were as wise and valiant and far more powerful than we are. The gentleman from Virginia knows fidl well, that wherever the Roman standard was unfurled, its motto, "Senatui ?> pulusque Romani" proclaimed to a conquered world that they were governed by the Senate and the people of Rome. But now, sir, the Roman lazzaroni, who crouching at the gatesof his Prince's palaces, begs the offals of his kitchen, would never know that his ancestors had been free, nor that the people had counted for any thing in Rome, or that Rome ever had her Senate; did he not read it on the broken friezes and broken columns of the ruined temples, whose fragments now lie scattered over the Roman forum!

Tuesday, March 2.

Mr. Dana.—After this vindication of meritorious men who have been removed from office, I will now attend more particularly to some observations of the gentleman from Virginia. He has spoken of the judicial act of the 18th of February, 1801, as if the passage of it had been attended with improper circumstances, and thence has attempted to deduce the inference that it ought to be repealed. He read part of tho journal of the last session, and charged certain members of the House with having been engaged in opposing tho public will at the time when the act was approved. The journal shows, that oa the 18th of February, eighteen hundred and on*, the representatives, voting by States, proceeded to the twenty-ninth ballot for President, and the result was the same as had taken place before; the votes of eight States given for Thomas Jefferson; the votes of six States for Aaron Burr; and the votes of two States divided. Much has been said on this topic, which has at length been brought forward as a public charge by the gentleman from Virginia. It is no* time that it should be examined.

According to the principles of our Government, the public will, when explicitly ascertained by an authentic act, is the law of the land, and must be obeyed. Of this there can be no doubt; it is beyond all question. Bot this public will is not merely the will of p>rt of the community, a section of the people; it is the will of the great body of American citizens. The highest and most solemn expression of the public will in this country is the Consatution of the United States. This was agreed to by the General Convention; was tr.'Uismitw

Judiciary System.

[graphic]

MARCH, 1802.]
Judiciary System.

[H. OF R. to the Legislatures of the several States by the accused of hostility to the interest of the people, unanimous resolution of Congress under the because they did not think proper to elect the Confederation; was recommended by all those candidate from Virginia ? Are our affairs alLegislatures, when they passed laws for sub- ready reduced to such a situation that it is to mitting it to conventions for their ratification, be charged as a public offence, if any member and was finally ratified by the conventions of all of this House has failed to vote for a Virginian the States in the Union. It was thus established to be the President of the United States ? by the general consent. In this we should ac- It was the constitutional right of members of knowledge the high authority of the public will. this House, in deciding between the two candi

There is, however, a misfortune which at- dates, to give their ballots for the one whom tends the argumentation of some gentlemen. they believed to be superior in practical capacity They substitute a part for the whole; and for administering the Government-one whom would confound the will of a certain portion of they believed to be not hostile to the commerthe people, however vaguely expressed, with cial interests of the country, and not disposed the will of the whole public body as explicitly to subject the Union to the domination of a manifested by an authentic act.

particular State, whatever might be its lordly What manifestation was there of the public pretensions in consequence of extent of territory will relative to the late election of a President or antiquity of dominion. of the United States ? The only authentic As the gentleman from Virginia has thought evidence of the public will on this subject proper to speak of events which took place proved, that Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, about the time of passing the act in question, and Aaron Burr, of New York, were equally allow me, sir, to mention one circumstance, of the objects of approbation. The majority of which he has said nothing. The act, as finally the electors had given them an equal number enrolled, was signed by the Speaker of the of votes. What then was the difference of House of Representatives after the balloting for right between them? Was it, that one of the a President had commenced ; and the Clerk candidates was a Virginian? Was it that the carried it to the other House for the signature members of Congress were assembled on the of their President. The candidate from Virbanks of the Potomac, with Virginia in view ginia was then in the chair of the Senate. on the other side? Must it be acknowledged | The Clerk of this House, on first presenting as the prerogative of that State to impose a himself, as was customary, at the door of the Chief Magistrate on the Union? Or was there Senate Chamber, was not admitted. The situa difference of right, because Virginia, with its ation came to the knowledge of a Senator, and extent and population, could make more clamor was communicated to the Senate. After the than any other State The noise of so great sense of that body was found to be for his ada State may sometimes seem loud enough for mission, the door was opened, and the Clerk the voice of the people of the United States. was admitted to deliver his message, and preAnd are they, therefore, in this House to be sent the enrolled bill for signature. It was confounded with each other? If so, the ob- then signed by the President of the Senate. servations about the public will, of which we What should be thought of this, as taken in have lately heard so much from a certain connection with the fate of the act and pendency quarter, must be understood to mean the will of the Presidential election ? Was it a circumof Virginia; and we may thus judge of the ar- stance which must ever be remembered with gamentation when gentlemen from that State mortification, and which therefore will never are speaking of the respect due to the public will. be forgiven?

Two persons were presented, in constitution- To give a further color to the suggestion that al form, to the House of Representatives, as the passage of the act was attended with inbeing equally candidates for the office of Presi- proper circumstances, the attempt has been dent: one from Virginia and the other from made to impress an idea that it was adopted New York. When they were so presented, the without mature deliberation, and hurried choice between the two candidates was de- through its different stages in a reprehensible volved on the Representatives, by the Constitu- manner. If we are not willing to be misled by tion of the United States. After maturely pretext, let us examine what was the fact. considering the question, it was for them, as A recurrence to the journals of the House ultimate electors, to vote as they judged to be will prove that the subject of the Judicial Esmost for the public welfare. They voted by tablishment was recommended by the PresiStates, as required by the constitution. And dent of the United States to the attention of are gentlemen to be here accused for exercising Congress at two successive sessions. In his the constitutional right of election according to communication at the opening of the first sesthe conviction of their own judgments? When sion of the sixth Congress, he recommended the called upon, under the constitution, to elect subject in the following terms : one of the two candidates, were they not " To give due effect to the civil administration of bound, by the nature of their duty, to give

Government, and to ensure a just execution of the their votes according as the one or the other laws, a revision and amendment of the Judiciary was by them judged to be more or less prefer- system is indispensably necessary. In this extensivo able? Upon what principle can gentlemen be country it cannot but happen that numerous quesProceeding*.

H. Of R.]

tions respecting the interpretation of the laws and the rights and duties of officers and citizens must arise. On the one hand, the laws should be executed; on the other, individuals should be guarded from oppression. Neither of these objects is sufficiently assured under the present organization of the Judicial Department I therefore earnestly recommend the subject to your serious consideration.**

In the House of Representatives, this part of the President's Speech was referred to a select committee. They reported a bill which contained a variety of provisions for amending the system. The bill was referred to a Committee of the Whole, in which it was discussed several days, and was afterwards recommitted to the same gentlemen who had reported it. As it was printed for the use of the members, and the subject was extensively interesting to the community, it was judged proper to defer a final decision until another session, and in the mean time gentlemen might have an opportunity to acquire information that would assist them to form a more satisfactory judgment.

At the second session of the sixth Congress, the subject was again recommended by the President. These are his words:

"It is, in every point of view, of such primary importance to carry the laws into prompt and faithful execution, and to render that part of the administration of justice which the constitution and laws devolve on the Federal courts, as convenient to the people as may consist with their present circumstances, that I cannot omit once more to recommend to your serious consideration the Judiciary system of the United States. No subject is more interesting than this to the public happiness; and to none can those improvements which may have been suggested by experience be more beneficially applied.**

On this recommendation a select committee was appointed. That committee reported a bill to provide for the more convenient organization of the courts of the United States. The bill underwent a long discussion and a variety of amendments. It was finally passed in the House of Representatives by a majority of 51 to 43; and in the Senate by a majority of 16 to 11. After knowing these facts, will gentlemen have the hardihood to call this a hasty measure?

Compare the whole proceedings with what took place respecting a former act. Gentlemen have spoken of the general power of Congress to repeal acts passed by their predecessors. Are they prepared to repeal the act to which I now refer? It is the act relative to the temporary and permanent seat of Government, passed in July, 1790. That act was carried in the Senate by a majority of 14 to 12. In the House of Representatives, a Committee of the Whole agreed to it as it came from the Senate. Twelve different amendments were proposed in the House; the yeas and nays were taken on each of them, and every amendment was rejected—all in one day. A motion was then made for the third reading of the bill on the Monday following; the motion was negatived. It was moved that the third reading should be

[march, 1801

on the next day; this was negatived. The res? and nays were taken twelve times during the sitting. A motion was made to adjourn; thi was negatived. The general rule of the Ho« being against reading a bill twice on the sane day without special order, a motion for tie: reading the bill the third time was made otrds part of its advocates, and carried. On taiag the yeas and nays, for the thirteenth time in one day, the bill passed by a majority of Si U 29. Mark the smallness of the majority in hoi Houses; the titter rejection of every amendment in the House of Representatives; tie hurried manner in which it was forced on to the final question. Recollect other consderations relative to the passage of that act, and then judge whether it was not attended wi'j circumstances signally improper. If matters of this kind constitute a sufficient cause for gentlemen to repeal any act passed by their predecessors, why should we remain here in pursuance of this act? Will any gentleman say it is for our personal convenience that the seat of Government is now at this place? Is it it present for the public convenience? Is it lea expensive for individuals, or for the pohlk, than it would be in some of your «mnnercial cities? Have vo l here the opportunities fet valuable information which might be had elsewhere? What, then, should detain ns, if it be not a regard to stability and consistency in public proceedings, combined with a regard to the expectations of respectable persons seriously interested in the question? But if you may repeal the act organizing the Judicial systeffi, what principle is there that ought to confini the Government to the place in which we ire now assembled? Repeal this act, as is proposed by the bill on your table, and yon shake the principle of public stability and consistency. Repeal this act, and there can be no principle of constitutional obligation, none of political honor, or legal right, to detain you here.

Wednesday, March 3. Mr. Lowndes moved that the further consideration of the bill he postponed until tie first Monday in December next; on which » debate of considerable length ensued; when, the question being taken thereupon, it passed in the negative—yeas 32, nays 59.

And, after debate thereon, the main question was taken that the said bill do pass, and resolved in the affirmative—yeas 59, nays 32, as follows:

Yeas.—Willis Alston, John Archer, John B«ra, Theodorus Bailey, Phanuel Bishop, Richard Brart, Robert Brown, William Butler, Samuel J. &Wi Thomas Claiborne, Matthew Clay, John Cloptt*, John Condit, Richard Cutts, Thomas T. Dans, •'oh" Dawson, William Dickson, Lucas Elmendorph, Eh*0ezer Elmer, John Fowler, William B. CBm, M* Gray, Andrew Gregg, Joseph Heister, William Helau, Wm. Hoge, James Holland, David Holmes, Jackson, Charles Johnson, William Jones. Michael Loib, John MUledge, Samuel L. Jlitchill, Thomas

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »