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[APRIL 21, 1834.
stated, it was very easy to be accounted for. He had least a right to be heard by the people no one would probably read the message with a desire to see that pretend to deny it-and tbey would decide on his conthe President had committed an error, and, in conse- duct, and either sustain or condemo bim. How could the quence, might have formed an unfavorable judgment of Executive defend himself, without presenting to the Sen. it. Now, with regard to what had been said by the ale a statement of his case? If he had thought of comhonorable Senator from Massachusetts, he begged leave mitting a fraud, he might have interwoven that message to say a word or two. That Senator had reiterated a with some legislative proposition, which the Senate would complaint, which he had beretofore made, in regard to have been compelled to have received, and could not have the withholding by the President of certain nominations rcsisted; but he had done no such thing. He had preof high officers of the Government. He was mistaken in sented a fair statement of his case, and asked only that it point of fact. There was not one-half of the cabinet might be preserved, in order that his views might be whose nominations had not been sent to the Senate. seen by posterity and the world. And he had come to
(Mr. WEBSTER said there were three-the Secretary the Senate, not as a Chief Magistrate demanding that of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of his views might be preserved on the records of the counthe 'Treasury.]
try, but with a request that they might be preserved on Mr. Forsytu resumed. The principle was the same, the Journal of the Senate with ihe resolutions condemnwhether it was a portion only or the whole of the cabi-ing him—that no inference contrary to the executive pow. net. The honorable Senator had told the Senate that er hereafter might be drawn, and for the purpose of havthose officers were in the discharge of important duties, ing justice done to bis opinions as an officer and a man. in violation of the principles of the constitution, and in He, Mr. F., entirely concurred with the honorable derogation of the rights of the Senate. He would ask Senator from Alassachusetts, that the country expected the honorable gentleman if he had recently read the con- and would demand, at the hands of the Senate, that this stitution?
matter should be solemnly considered and decided; that (Mr. WEBSTER. Yes, sir.)
the question which it had raised should be treated as it Mr. Forsyth continued. Then he would beg to call his deserved, neither forgetting what was due to the dignity attention to a particular part of it, which declared that of this body, nor to the bigh station and dignity of our persons commissioned by ihe President, should hold to Chief Magistrate. There were most important and grave the termination of the next session of Congress. And considerations connected with this matter. Be they true this was an answer to the charge of a violation of the or false, they must be treated with that respect, moderaconstitution having been committed. They were the oftion, and forbearance, which became the dignity of the ficers of the United States, as much as if they had been Senate, or that body would be lost, in the opinion of the confirmed by the Senate, and would remain so to the American people. Let Use conduct of the President be termination of the session. It was true there would have fairly examined, and no incorrect inferences be drawn. been some difference in their position, at this time, if their Yes, that was the way, and the only way, in which be nominations had been presented to the Senate, and they ought to be treated. His (Mr. F.'s) opinions on the whole had been condemned by it. And upon this was based matter were perfectly well understood. He considered the complaint. Honorable Senators desired that the the charge which had been made against the President as nominations might be made, in order that they might sit uncalled fur, unnecessary, and improper; but he trusted in judgment on them. He had reason to 5clieve that that that the Senatc, in its future conduct, would not forget was the fact, from the suggestion which had been made what was due to itself, and to the dignity of our Chief by the honorable Senator to-day, that some plausible rea- Magistrate, so that justice might be done him. He, Mr. son was always sought for, so that the presentation of F., was of opinion that the Senate had travelled beyond the nominations might be postponed. The gentleman the bounds of propriety, and deserved-what he believed had expressed a wish to know which of the persons who would, in due time, be meted to them--a sentence of would have to come under the adjudication of the Senate condemnation by the people. bad acquiesced in the message. "Perhaps (said Mr. F.) Mr. WEBSTER replied. The gentleman from Georthere might be an occasion, before the end of the session, gia, said he, has referred to the decision of that high trito enligliten his judgment, and then he would know ex-bunal, by whose decision all public men, and all public actly how he should decide on another matter. He (Mr. bodies, must ultimately stand or fall. I cheerfully join in F.) would contend that they were officers, acting ac- the appeal, and have no fear of the result. It can never cording to the constitution, and that the President had be, that the people of the United States will, for no pot derogated from his duty. It was his duty, and he earthly reason, submit to severe suffering and to encroachdare not do otherwise, to present the nominations in ques- ments on constitutional liberty; and, I doubt not, the tion before the adjournment of Congress.
same people will stand by the Senate in all just and conWith respect to this anomalous proceeding, it was un-stitutional efforts to sustain its own rights and the rights precedented-the first instance in the history of the Gov. of Congress. I believe the Senate stands strong in the ernment, in which the Executive had been arraigned be-confidence of a majority of the nation, and that nothing fore the people by the extra-judicial conduct of the Sen-would more produce dismay and despair than that this ate. Did the honorable gentleman from Massachusetts body should be found to Ainch or falter in a moderate, think it a trilling matter that the President should have but firm and decided, opposition to the present course been charged with having violated his duty, and forgotten of public measures. the solemn obligations of his oath? And to whom was The gentleman supposes I am mistaken as to the num. the Executive to address himself but to those from whom ber of members of the cabinet not yet nominated to the the charge has emanated? The Senate bad arraigned Senate. But there is no mistake. The Secretary of him; and the honorable Senator particularly, and others, State, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Attorney had said that the remedy for all this lay with the people. General, have beeii in office six or seven months, and He (Mr. F.) would admit that it was for them to decide have neither of them been yet sent to the Senate for con. whether or not he was correct; and, if he was found guil- firmation. What reason is to be given for this depar:ty, to punislı him for violating the constitution and the laws. ure from all former practice of the Government? llow is
But, he would ask, if it was not the right of a party, it to be justified? We may conjecture a reason, indeed, after being condemned without a hearing, to be heard but it is such a reason as ought not to exist. I know well thereafter? The question now before the people was that these officers hold cornmissions which run to the end placed there by the Senate. The President then bad at of the session. Such is the constitutional provision. But
April 21, 1834.]
I know, too, that although that be so, all other Presidents the royal claims of prerogative gave birth to a debate in have laid such appointments before the Senate early after Parliament, in which Mr. Spicer (a member of the kitchthe commencement of the session. This has been the uni- en cabinet of the time, I suppose) said the Crown form course; and to hold back so many of the heads of “could not be tied by any law, because it might loose departments for so many months from the beginning of itself at pleasure." And Mr. Secretary Cecil told the the session, is a thing altogether without precedent. other members—“If you stand upon law, and dispute of
As to the protest, sir, it appears to me, that the honor- the perogative, hark ye what Bracton says--Prærogatiable member from Georgia has conceded it away. He ad- vam nostram nemo audeat disputare.” Mr. Francis Bamits that there may arise emergencies in which the Sen.con, a whole-hog man, sir, said--" As to the perogatives ate has a right to express its opinion upon executive royal, he never questioned them, and he hoped they proceedings; to make a case, as he expresses it, for the would never be discussed.” When the question of the consideration of the people. If this be so, then the Sen- subsidy was before them, Mr. Sergeant Heyle saidate itself is to be the only judge when that emergency " Mr. Speaker, I marvel much that the House should has arisen. The gentleman's admission acknowledges stand upon granting of a subsidy, or the time of payment, the right. The exercise of the right, then, on any given when all we have is the Crown's, and may be lawfully occasion, is matter of discretion; and this is precisely the taken at its pleasure from us. Yea, it hath as much right ground on which I placed the question when last speak to all our lands and goods, as to any revenue of the ing. Indeed, it cannot be otherwise. Suppose the Pres. 'Crown. At which, says the historian, all the House ident should commission persons to office, whom the Sen-hemmed, and laughed, and talked. Well, quoth Serate has rejected; might we not resolve, that such a progeant Heyle, all your hemming shall not put me out of ceeding was unconstitutional? Suppose he should threat- countenance.” (We have some in this day, said Mr. C., en to turn us out of our seats, by force; might we not who are as hard to put out of countenance. “So the enter on our Journal a resolution against such menace! Sergeant proceeded, and when he had spoken a little No one, surely, can doubt this. The Senate, then, pos while, the House hemmed again, and so he sat down. In sesses the right; on a recent occasion it saw fit to exer- bis latter speech, he said he could prove his former posicise that right, in its discretion, and under its own sense tion by precedents, in the time of Henry HI, King John, of duty; and it is a right which its members are bound King Stephen, &c., wbich was the occasion of their hemto maintain, in behalf of themselves, and for their suc- ming." Had Sergeant Heyle lived in our day, there is cessors in all time to come. I say nothing, at present, no telling to what a pitch of greatness lie might not have upon the claims of executive power put forth in the attained. It can hardly be too much to say that he might protest. All I mean now, is, to assert the right of the have been a Secretary of the Treasury, or at least a PostSenate to express its opinion upon the conduct of the master General, with a promise of the Russian mission in Executive, in critical emergencies, and on momentous reversion. occasions, notwithstanding no impeachment be pending Observe, sir, that, in the debate to which I have refer. before it.
real you, the advocates of power did, as they do still, seek Mr. CLAYTON said, the Senator from Georgia had ob- to support it chiefly by precedent and usage. The Presserved, that perhaps he (Mr. C.) had been influenced by ident builds his pretended prerogative to absolute control a desire to find the President in error when perusing his over the Secretary of the Treasury, in the manner of manprotest. Those who shall read the remarks of the mem- aging the public revenue and keeping the public de. ber from Georgia himself, in reference to the same paper, posites, on “the usages and precedents of the Governand who are not acquainted with his independent and un- ment." The precedent on which he and his advocates yielding course of opposition to all executive encroach. here rely, was established, not so far back as that of Serments, will rise from ihat reading with a deep conviction geant Heyle—not in the days of King John or King Stethat the honorable member, before he knew the contents phen-but in the day when the elder Adams gave his of the protest, was predetermined to support it, with casting vote in the Senate in favor of the removing power, every thing contained in it, right or wrong; and they will and laid the foundation for the present claim in the most probably not consider the honorable member a proper latituclinarian of all constitutional construction that was judge of the motives with which other persons have pe. ever attempted. The power of removal was based exrused the same document.
clusively on the pretence that it was necessary for the Sir, this protest, which meets the cordial approbation President to have it, as an iccident to his duty to “see of the Senator from Georgia, strikes at the constitutional that the laws are faithfully executed.” But until this day, rights, and even at the very existence, of the body of it was never dreamed, by the most visionary of the high which he is a member. While the President complains tory school, that the power to remove embraced the power of the length of the Senatorial term of service, he distinct. to control the officer in every act he was to perform. ly declares, that the conduct of the Senate, in daring to This President is entitled to the fame of discovering, that, censure his acts, if persevered in, must inevitably lead to as his oath of office binds him to see ihe laws faithfully changes in the constitution itself. lle singles out indi. executed, he is to exercise the power of controlling the vidual Senators as the objects and victims of his displeas- Secretary of the Treasury, and every other officer, in the ure; almost denies to them the privilege of suffrage here, discharge of duties. The monstrous character of this in relation to his conduct; and denounces the Senate pretension has been thus illustrated: The President thinks for daring to debate and decide upon his princely preten-that a decree of a district court, or a circuit court, or the sions to perogative-his unlimited and illimitable claims Supreme Court of the United States, is unconstitutional. to executive power. Because we have, with a view to He fulininates a bull against the court, and demands of it regulate our own legislative and executive action, ventu. to enter liis protest on its records, “to the end that it may red to lay down a principle, by a resolution, defining and never be drawn into prccellent again, as in the case of our circumscribing the limits of bis power, we are not only resolution. He then orders the marsi.al not to execute menanced by him, but even lectured by a member of the the writ issued by virtue of the decree. The marshal body itself. To what period of bistory shall we look for persists in the discharge of his duty, and says he is sworn a parallel to these things, which are daily passing before io execute the writ. 'The President replies, you are an our eyes?
executive officer, and I must "see that the laws are faithSir, it was in the year 1591, (was it not) that the fully executed,” and as the constitution, which has been Judges solemnly decreed that England was an absolute violated by the court, is the supreme law, I command you empire, of which the King was the head. In that age, I not to execuic thc writ. The marshal still persists, and SENATE.]
Explanatory Message.-President's Protest.
(April 21, 1834.
the President removes him-appoints another, and re- tance. In order to ascertain what was the character of the moves him, and pursues the same process until he finds a original document, and of the explanation which had been tool to obey his will, and thus abrogates the decree of the sent to them, he would read a paragraph from the former court. He is to exercise the same power over every other paper. (Mr. Bibb here read ihe following passage from executive officer appointed by him alone, or by the Pres. the first message of the President.) ident and Senate. This is the claim he sets up in this “The custody of the public property, under such reg. protest-this is the exact character of that ultra-despoticulations as may be prescribed by legislative authority, has rescript which he thinks this Senate is bound to register always been considered an appropriate function of the at his sovereign will and pleasure. In every State consti- executive department, in this and all other governments. tution, the same provision on which the President erects in accordance with this principle, every species of prohis pretensions to these powers, will be found. They all |perty belonging to the United States, (excepting that provide that “the Governor shall see that the laws be which is in the use of the several co-ordinate departments faithfully executed.” If, in one of the States, the Gov- of the Government, as means to aid them in performing ernor should order the public money to be removed by their appropriate functions,) is in charge of officers apthe State treasurer, it would be acknowledged usurpation. pointed by the President, whether it be lands, or buildings, Should he actually remove nim from office for it, he would for merchandise, or provisions, or clothing, or arms and hardly escape an impeachment himself. Yet, under color munitions of war. The superintendents and keepers of of this single clause in the constitution of the United the whole are appointed by the President, and removable States, that “the President shall see that the laws are at his will. faithfully executed,” the Chief Magistrate bas claimed the “Public money is but a species of public property. It power not only to remove every agent whom Congress cannot be raised by taxation or customs, nor brought into has placed in custody of the money of the nation, but also the Treasury in any other way, except by law; but whento remove the money itself, when and where he pleases. ever or howsoever obtained, its custody always has been,
Sir, such a paper as this, claiming absolute power, and and always must be, unless the constitution be changed, denying to the representatives of the people of England intrusted to the executive department. No officer can or either House of Parliament, the right to discuss and be created by Congress for the purpose of taking charge decide upon the extent of kingly power for the govern- of it, whose appointment would not, by the constitution, ment of their legislative action, would bring the head of at once devolve on the President, and who would not be a British monarch to the block. It remains to be seen responsible to him for the faithful performance of his duwhether the inilder temperament of the people of our ties. The legislative power may undoubtedly bind him free country will stamp it with the authoritative sanction and the President, by any laws they may think proper to of their verdict against this Senate, at the polls. For one, enact; they may prescribe in what place particular porI will stand or fall on this issue before the people of that tions of the public money shall be kept, and for what State to which and not to Andrew Jackson-I owe alle reason it shall be removed, as they may direct that supgiance. By their judgment, unawed as they have ever plies for the army or navy shall be kept in particular stores; been, and ever will be, by official patronage and execu- and it will be the duty of the President to see that the law tive power, will I be tried, and by no other. They shall is faithfully executed-yet will the custody remain in the say for me whether this paper, couched in the language executive department of the Government. Were the of a Roman dictator to the Senate, proposing only to Congress to assume, with or without legislative act, the "expose” it and degrade it, by compelling it to enter on power of appointing officers, independently of the Presiits own records such claims of absolute power as it con-dent, to take the charge and custody of the public proptains, is, or is not, a breach of the privileges of that body erty contained in the military and naval arsenals, maga. on whose preservation their rights, and those of all the zines, and store-houses, it is believed that such an act other small States of this Union, eminently depend. If would be regarded by all as a palpable usurpation of exthis House were now to send to the Representatives a ecutive power, subversive of tbe form as well as the funbulletin such as this, lecturing them for the passage of damental principles of our Government. But where is their resolutions approbatory of the act of the Executive the difference of principle, whether public propety be in continuing the pet State banks as banks of deposite, in the form of arms, munitions of war and supplies, in they would instantly vote such an interference a breach gold and silver or bank notes? None can be perceived of their privileges. Seeing this, the people to whom -none is believed to exist. Congress cannot, therefore, alone I defer on this subject, shall try for me, in the last take out of the hands of the executive department, the resort, the co-ordinate powers and privileges of the two custody of the public property or money, without an asbranches of Congress. But until their verdict be given sumption of executive power, and a subversion of the first on this issue, no judgment will be entered or recorded (principles of the constitution." against the Senate by the votes of their representatives. Mr. CLAY said it was not at this time his purpose to
PRESIDENT'S PROTEST. discuss the supplementary message: he would avail him. The Senate proceeded to the special order of the day, self of another occasion.
being the motion of Mr. PoinDEXTER, that the Presideni's Mr. C. then moved to lay the motion of the Senator from protest be not received, as modified by his resolutions. Mississippi upon the table, for the present, in order that Mr. EWING then addressed the Chair as follows; the general discussion upon the President's protest might Mr. President: Iam much at a loss in what manner to be proceeded with.
characterize the paper which is the subject of discussion. Mr. POINDEXTER hoped the resolutions which had When read to us the other day, in the Senate, I pretty been offered would be printed, so that every Senator well appreciated its character and its purpose. I noted might have an opportunity of seeing them.
down, too, some of its language; and if the Secretary Mr.CALHOUN suggested the propriety of offering the read it right, and if I heard him right, that which is sent resolutions as a modification of the first motion of the Sen- abroad, in the official, as the President's protest, and the ator from Mississippi, and the Senate would then be able forty thousand copies which are published in a pamphlet to proceed with the original Jebate.
Trorm and scattered to the four winds, differ, in some mate. This was agreed to, and the resolutions were so offered. rial points, from the one which is before us, and in points Mr. BUBB begged leave to call the attention of the Sen-, which were the subject of comment here. In this paper ate, for one moment, to a point of fact. In a discussion the President speaks of the Secrtary of the Treasury of this kind, a statement of facts was of the utmost impor-Ibis Secretary, in one instance, and, in two others.' lie
APRIL 21, 1834.]
speaks of the Secretaries generally as his Secretaries; such removal. All admit we were bound to examine and using, in three instances, the possessive pronoun, and thus pronounce upon the sufficiency of those reasons. We appropriating those high officers of the law to himself as did so, and found them wanting. But they did not conhis sole and exclusive property. That circumstance was tain the whole reason for the act. The President's mes. not passed over in silence here: something was said in this sage, a paper which he read to his cabinet, and publishdebate of his Secretaries and his Government, and in the ed in his official Journal, and which was in the hands of printed pamphlet we find the more modest term, the Sec- every body, and bearing his own signature, showed that retaries, in two cases out of the three, supplying the it was by virtue of his mandate that the act was done, and place of his Secretaries. Such is the fact, if the paper that in truth, there was no discretion exercised by the was correctly read from your desk. But, since I came Secretary; that no controling reason actuated him, except into the Senate chamber this morning, prepared to discuss the will of the President. Our first resolution, therefore, the motion, or rather the paper that is before you, anoth- did not cover the whole case; the act of the Secretary was, er change has came over the spirit of our dream; a codi- as it stood before the people, sheltered behind another cil, or a supplement, or a gloss, or a recantation, in part, power, the mandate of the President; and it was our right, of this paper, is presented us. On the whole, we do not and I hold it was our duty, to determine whether that reaknow well what it is, or where to find it.
son, if it be worthy of the name, were sufficient to justify " It flits ere you can point its place;" but I trust now it it. In other words, whether, in the exercise of the diswill remain without further change, until I can say the cretion vested in him by law, the Secretary of the Treasfew things which I wish to say concerning it.
ury was bound to conform to the will of the Executive, By what I could gather from the reading of the adden- and yield that discretion to his will! Such are my views of dum, or supplemental paper, I do not think it at all varies that resolution, so far as relates to its quasi legislative the original, unless it be to cover up, and give room to character; for neither of the resolutions are, strictly speakexplain away, some assertions of power too flagrant foring, legislative acts, but they are required to be passed the present times to bear, and too openly and boldly upon by the provisions of a law which has also the soexpressed, to admit of equivocation or denial. But this lemnity of a compact. The honorable Senator from Alaamendment will do; it gives sea-room; there is space now bama Mr. King) said, the other day, that this resolution for turning and tacking, so that there is no danger of proposed no legislation, and that no man, except the Senbeing run down by any one who takes the trouble of pur-ator from New Jersey (Mr. SOUTHARD] would say that he suing the point. The explanation will set it all right; for meant it as the basis of a legislative act. Now, I cannot it is one of those incomprehensible mysticisms which no one allow that Senator to answer for me on this subject. I can exactly comprehend, and therefore no one can refute. have my own views upon it, and would prefer expound
But the original paper-what is it, and by what authori. ing them for myself. I considered those resolutions as ty does the President send it here? It is not a message legislative in their character, and that the very passage of under the constitution, giving the Senate information of them would require of the Secretary of the Treasury to the state of the Union, or recommending any legislation; restore the public funds to their proper and legal deposiand it responds to no call of the Senate. We once, by a tory; for, inasmuch as they were placed there by law, resolution, asked the President for his argument on the nothing less than the sanction of the law-making power, subject to which this paper relates. While the resolu- in all its branches, could permanently remove them. tion which is the subject of complaint was pending be- Thus far I considered both the resolutions legislative in fore the Senate, you have not forgotten, sir, that we, by a their character. formal resolution, asked him to send us an authenticated! But, to warrant us in their adoption, it is wholly imma. copy of the paper which he read to his cabinet, recom-terial whether they were legislative, or whether they mending the removal of the deposites, taking the responsi. Flooked to future legislation, or not. It is a right inherent bility on himself, and giving his reasons for the act-and in all men, and in all bodies, to express their opinions be refused us. But now, when the Senate has passed concerning matters of great import to themselves, and to upon the matter, he sends us this paper, which he calls a the community of which they may form a part, or of which protest, and asks us to enter it upon our Journals. Well, they are the organs. Those opinions may approve, cona protest be it-for, as it is a nondescript, and he is the in-demn, or advise; and this, although there be no constituventor, he has a right to give it what name he pleases. He tional provision securing them that right. The opinion tells us, also, that he has caused it to be entered on the of a single individual may be expressed by his own simple Executive Journal. As to the propriety of this I have assertion; but that of a numerous body can only be exnothing to say-if the Executive have a Journal, and this pressed in the form of enactment or of resolutions. Look be the kind of matter which is usually inserted there, why at the whole practice of the country upon the subject; be it so. We entered our protest in the form of a reso- the resolutions of our legislative bodies, not as acts of lelution) against executive usurpation on our Journals, and if gislation; the resolutions of Virginia of 1798; and those the Executive thinks we have usurped any powers belong-resolutions of instruction from various State legislatures ing to him, be certainly should have the right to enter his which the President has imbodied in this very message; protest on his Journal. These seem to be common and none of them warranted by the constitution of the Uniequal rights. But the President goes further; he sends usted States, or the constitution of any of the States. And his protest, and wishes us to give it a place among our rec. what does the President tell us! That a legislature, or a ordis thing which I am by no means inclined to do. legislative branch, may pass no resolutions, except those Had the Senate sent him their resolution, with a request which are to be the basis of legislation, or which the consimilar to this, he would have treated it, without hesita- stitution expressly warrants; and, at the same time, sends tion, as I trust we shall treat this paper, refused it a rest.lus transcripts of numerous resolutions, according to his ing place within his doors. And what was the resolution doctrine, so unconstitutionally passed; and, at the same which called forth this singular document, and why was it time, indirectly censures some of us because we did not resolved on by the Senate? The event is too recent for obey them. But, sir, the right of those legislatures to the state of things under which it took place to be forgot pass these resolutions was, under the practice of our ten.
Government, undoubted; so is our right also, it is admit. The public deposites had been removed by the Presi- ted, fully admitted, by the Senator from Georgia, (Mr. dent from the Bank of the United States, where the law Forsyti, 1 the strongest and most thorough defender of had placed them, and the Secretary of the Treasury sent executive claims upon this floor. to us a report containing, what he called, his reasons for But the discussion bas again called up certain resolu. SENATE.]
[APRIL 21, 1834.
tions of the Senate, moved by an honorable Senator from In oriler to give the semblance of propriety to the emaMississippi, (Mr. POIX DEXTER,) which declare that it is nation of this “ protest,” the President says: “But inexpedient, except in cases of necessity, to appoint when the Chief Executive is, by one of the most im. individuals, resident in one State, to fill offices in another. I portant branches of the Government, in its official capaci
These resolutions were passed before I had the honor ty, in a public manner, and by its recorded sentence, of a seat on this floor, and they were passed by an al- but without precedent, competent authority, or just most unanimous vote of the Senate, of which a clear ma- cause, declared guilty of a breach of the laws and constijority were supporters of the present administration; but tution, it is due to his station, to public opinion, and to a they crossed somewhat the purposes of the Executive; proper self-respect, that the officer thus denounced and the Senator from Alabama (Mr. King) soon discover: should promptly expose the wrong which had been ed that they were a violation of the constitution; and, done.” though they had his vote on their passage, so strong is Now, I ask you, sir, if the same rule would not, in like that argument in his mind, that he now says no man, di-manner, apply to the Senate, if this body, its motives, vested of passion, can doubt that they are inconstitution- and its acts, were attacked by the President in his official al. Here, again, I must beg the honorable Senator not character, “in a public manner, and by his recorded to decide a constitutional question for me. The fact that sentence, but without precedent, competent authority, or weighis so strongly on his mind to prove it unconstitution. just cause," and “declared guilty of a breach” of a al, namely, that it thwarts executive purpose, lias little solemn compact, "and of the constitution?” And such weight with mine; and I, sir, was first called to reflect has been the case within the present session. on that subject in the utmost calmness, and without the At the last session of Congress the two Houses passed least movement of passion. My conclusion was wholly a bill, entitled “An act appropriating for a limited time different from that of the honorable Senator. I thought the proceeds of the sales of the public lands." This bill that he and those who voted with him had not violated was retained by the President, and not returned to the the constitution, or encroached upon any of the execu- House in which it originated within the session. If he tive powers. The resolution did not restrain the Presi- had returned it within ten days without his assent, it was dent in his right of nomination; it merely settled a rule his duty, by the constitution, to accompany it with his by which Senators proposed to be guided, save in reasons for refusing that assent. If he did not return it cases of necessity, in their co-ordinate duty of appoint. within ten days, its return, and any message he might rement. Suppose the Senate had passed a resolution, turn with it, were irregular and void as an official act. But, generally, that it was inexpedient to confirm the nomi- on the 5th of December last, he returned us that bill, nation of a convicted felon, or a fugitive from justice, or with a message, in which he says that it is “in direct and a man of base and infamous character, if nominated to undisguised violation of the pledge given by Congress to any honorable or responsible station; would any man the States before a single cession was made;" and, in the have thought that this body was infringing on the just next paragraph, he says: “In the apportionment of the rights of the Executive? And would it not have been remaining seven-eights of the proceeds, this bill, in a just as well to have done so, as it was to reject such nom- manner equally undisguised, violates the conditions on inations when they were sent before us for confirmation. which Congress obtained title to the ceded lands;" and, The resolution referred to was, in fact, respectful to the in another paragraph, he says, in substance, (and in this President: it gave him information of the general views I agree with him,) that "a violation of that pledge is a of the Senate on the subject to which it referred, and violation of the constitution.” It would lead me too far was a course far more conciliatory towards him, and more out of the course of my argument to show, what I am at regardful to the character and feelings of a nominee, any time prepared to show, that these charges against us than the simple rejection, which no man doubts we had a were utterly unfounded. But where was our spirit, right to make for that cause. The Senator spoke of the Senators, when we not only received and recorded this repeal of those resolutions. I remember the circum- illegal paper, this gratuitous insult upon our body, but stances well.
made ourselves the vehicle for spreading it abroad On the last night of the session, at about 3 o'clock in among the States and the people? Sir, your Journal will the night, after nearly half the Senators had retired, ex- show that, on motion, I think of a Senator from Alabama, hausted and overcome with fatigue and watching, the five thousand copies were printed, by our order, for dismotion to rescind this resolution was brought forward tribution. If we are chargeable with any departure from and carried by, I think, sixteen to fourteen voles. So duty, it has been for tameness and submission. As a the resolution was thus rescinded, and its recision, un. body, this Senate is "more sinned against than sinning." der these circumstances, is produced as evidence of the But it is insinuated, though not expressly averred, that opinion of the Senate that it was unconstitutional. One because the Senate are the triers of impeachments, they word more, in reply to the Senator from Alabama. He may not pass any resolutions which directly or indirect. said, in answer to some remark of the Senator from ly inculpate an officer subject to impeachment. I say Maine, near me, (Mr. SPRAGUE,] that that gentleman this doctrine is not distinctly asserted, but the course and was not very obedient to any body; and this, in allusion, purport of the argument go to this point. as I understood him, to the instructions sent to that Sen.I' Now, I had supposed, and indeed had believed, that ator from the legislature of Maine; and it was spoken in no one doubted, or could doubt, the position that the ju. a tone of reproach or accusation. I stand, sir, in precise.dicial power of the Senate was cumulative and not rely the same predicament, and am willing to believe a strictive on its other powers; that its power, as a legislashare of the reproof was intended for myself. But what tive body, is, in all things, as full and perfect as it would is the accusation thus made on this floor against us? We be, if it possessed no other powers. So, also, with its are sworn to support the constitution of the United executive functions; and so with its judicial; that in each States, and we are charged with disobeying instruc- and all its respective duties, it is as unrestrained and effitions, which require us to support acts in violation of cient as if it were confined and limited to the performthat constitution. On subjects of this kind, when I am ance of that single duty alone. Such must necessarily bound to the performance of my duty by the solemni- be the case, unless its powers be somewhere restrained ties of an official oath, the Senator from Alabama will in these respects by the constitution; and I find no such excuse me, if I am not very ready to obey those who restriction. The only limitation to its powers, as a branch have no right to command, but who do command me to of the legislature, is, that it may not originate revenue disregard and to violate that oath.
I bills. And it cannot exercise its judicial power of'irying