« AnteriorContinuar »
Trial of Judge Peck.
Jas. 29, 1831.
hat all the memorials on the subject of drawbacks were now before the last named committee. The first application for a reduction of the duties on salt came from the agricultural interest of the country, and the subject had been referred to the Committee on Agriculture, who, years since, reported the first bill for a reduction of the duties on that article. How was it at this session of Congress? A bill to reduce the duty on a peculiar kind of blankets, manufactured for the use of the Indians, had been referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs; because the measure had been introduced for the purpose of relieving that branch of our trade from the burthens under which it labored, although, from the argument of the gentleman from New Jersey, the Committee on Manufactures would have been the most proper reference. This memorial, then, which looked solely to the relieving of our commerce from its present state of depression, ought, with equal justice, to be sent to that committee which had the subject under its peculiar care. Mr. SILSBEE said he conceived the Committee on Commerce most competent to decide upon the subject in question, and he hoped it would be submitted to that committee. Mr. HAYNE observed, that the application of the memorialists was for the purpose of relieving the shipping interest of the United States from embarrassments of such a character as threatened its existence. It was now, he said, proposed to refer the memorial to the Committee on Manufactures, over which the gentleman from New Jersey presided, who was confessedly hostile to all its objects. Now, he would ask, would not such a reference be consigning it to the tomb of all the Capulets? Report after report had been made by that committee, all showing the utmost hostility to the interests whose protection was prayed for by the memorial, and yet the chairman of that committee wished it to be consigned to his care, for the purpose of crushing it at a blow. He would ask if it was right, reasonable, or proper, that this memorial should be consigned to a committee who had already predetermined to destroy it? The views of the gentleman in relation to iron manufactures and iron mines were well known; and, if the commerce of the country depended on him, God save the commerce! Mr. H. concluded by asking for the yeas and nays on the question. Mr. DICKERSON said he had entertained no idea that this memorial was to be sent to a committee who could make a final decision upon it. It was a new construction to the powers of committees. . If the Senate should not concur in the report of a committee, they were not bound to accept it. A committee surely had no power to crush anything—to conceal any thing—to destroy any thing. Mr. D. said, he deemed it proper that the views of all parties should be fairly developed. He had no doubt the Committee on Commerce was fully competent to pass upon the memorial, but he conceived that there were other interests more directly involved in it. For his own part, he felt no ambition to have charge of this matter. Mr. D. said he thanked the gentleman who last addressed the Senate for the allusion that delicacy should have prevented him from asking that this subject should be referred to the committee of which he had the honor of being chairman. Such a delicacy, he might have felt many years ago; but that time had long since gone by. His delicacy must now yield to his duty. Mr. BENTON read the rule of proceedings on the subject, and argued that no bill or memorial should be referred to a committee hostile to its objects. Mr. KNIGHT said he would not have addressed the Senate on this subject, had it not been for the remark of an honorable Senator, [Mr. HAYNE, ) that the Committee
on Manufactures had pre-judged the question proposed to be referred to it. This, as one of the members of the committee, he felt bound to deny. He contended that all the efforts of that committee had tended to the promotion of commerce as well as other interests. He was in favor of the reference of this memorial to the Committee on Manufactures, whom he believed would make a favorable report upon the prayer of the petitioners.
Mr. WEBSTER said, that, if this was a mere question to consider the expediency of allowing a drawback on imported articles used in ship building, he should incline to the opinion of his colleague, that the most proper reference would be to the Committee on Commerce. He should incline to think, also, that, in judging of the propriety of the reference of a subject to any particular committee, the Senate ought to be influenced more by the purpose for which the committee had been created than by the opinions of its members. This memorial [Mr. W. added] came from a State not much interested. in ship building, and treated of matters unconnected with the subject of drawback. It had something to say in relation to internal improvements, and something to say with regard to the constitutional propriety of laying protecting duties on imported articles. Now, as he (Mr. w.) wished to give to these other topics, embraced in the memorial some little consideration, and as he had no desire to hear from the Committee on Commerce a report on the subject of internal improvements and the American system, he would move to lay it on the table.
The memorial was then laid on the table: yeas, 19– nays, 17.
TRIAL OF JUDGE PECK.
The Senate then again resolved itself into a Court of Impeachment. Mr. BUCHANAN concluded his argument in support of the impeachment. He took the further position, that the publication of Mr. Lawless, under the signature of “A Citizen,” could not, in a trial upon an indictment for libel, be established to be libellous, according to the constitution and laws of the land; that the paper was, on its face, perfectly harmless in itself; and that, so far as it went, it was not an unfair representation of the opinion of Judge Peck. The honorable manager critically and legally analyzed the nine last specifications in the publication, to establish these points. He then proceeded to sum up and descant upon the testimony produced in the case before the Court of Impeachment, in order to show the arbitrary and cruel conduct of Judge Peck; and, in a peroration, marked by its ardent eloquence, he declared, that if this man escaped, the declaration of a distinguished politician of this country, that the power of impeachment was but the scarecrow of the constitution, would be fully verified; that when this trial commenced, he recoiled with horror from the idea of limiting, and rendering precarious and dependent, the tenure of the judicial office, but that the acquittal of the respondent would reconcile him to that evil, as one less than a hopeless and remediless submission to judicial usurpation and tyranny, at least so far as respected the inferior courts. God forbid that the limitation should ever be extended to the Supreme Court! Mercy to the respondent would be cruelty to the American peo; ple. In the name, therefore, of the people of the United states, whose liberties he had violated—in the name of the judiciary, whose character he had injured and tarnished— he respectfully asked of this honorable court the convic' tion of the respondent. The argument being concluded on both sides, on motion of Mr. WoRSTER, the court then resolved to meet again at 12 o'clock on Monday morning next, in order to Po" ceed further in the consideration of this impeachment. Adjourned.
JAN. 31, FEB. 1, 2, 1831.]
Trial of Judge Peck.--Bank of the United States.
Mox DAY, JAN. 31.
The Senate again resolved itself into a Court of Impeachment; and
The House of Representatives, with their managers, and the counsel for the respondent, having come into court,
Mr. TAZEWELL moved the following resolution:
Resolved, That this court will now pronounce judgment upon James H. Peck, Judge of the District Court of the United States for the District of Missouri. Mr. TAZEWELL observed, that if there were one member of the court unprepared for a decision on this impeachment at this time, or preferred any other mode of proceeding to pronounce judgment, he would cheerfully withdraw the resolution. No objection having been made, the resolution was unanimously adopted. The names of the Senators were then called over by the Secretary. The secretary of the Senate, under the direction of the Vice-Presin Ext, read the article of impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives against James H. Peck, Judge of the District Court of the United States for the District of Missouri. The VICE-PRESIDENT rose and said— SENATons: You have heard the article of impeachment read: you have heard the evidence and the arguments for and against the respondent: when your names are called, you will rise from your seats, and distinctly pronounce whether he is guilty or not guilty, as charged by the House of Representatives. The VICE-PRESIDENT then, in an audible voice, put the following question to each of the Senators in alphabetical order: Mr. Senator : What say you: Is James H. Peck, Judge of the District Court of the United States for the District of Missouri, guilty or not guilty of the high misdemeanor charged in the article of impeachment exhibited against him by the House of Representatives? Each Senator rose from his seat, as this question was propounded to him, and answered as follows: GUILTY. —Messrs. Barnard, Brown, Clayton, Dickerson, Dudley, Ellis, Forsyth, Hayne, Iredell, Kane, King, Livingston, M*Kinley, Poindexter, Robbins, Sanford, Smith, of Maryland, Smith, of South Carolina, Troup, Tyler, Woodbury.--21. NOT GUILTY.--Messrs. Barton, Bell, Burnet, Chase, Foot, Frelinghuysen, Grundy, Hendricks, Holmes, Johnston, Knight, Marks, Naudain, Noble, Ruggles, Seymour, Silsbee, Sprague, Tazewell, Webster, White, Ruggles. —22. Mr. BENTox and Mr. Ron IN sox were excused from voting. Mr. Bid B, Mr. Ch AMBERs, and Mr. Row AN were absent. The VICE PRESIDENT again rose, and observed— SExAtoms: Twenty-one Senators having voted that the respondent is guilty, and twenty-two that he is not guilty; and two-thirds of the Senate not having voted for his conviction, it becomes the duty of the Chair to pronounce, that James H. Peck, the Judge of the District Court of the United States for the District of Missouri, stands acquitted of the charge exhibited against him by the House of Representatives. The Vic E PRESIDENT then directed the Marshal to adjourn the Court of Impeachment; and it was accordingly adjourned sine die.
Tuesday, FEB. 1. The whole of this day’s sitting was consumed in the reception of petitions and resolutions, and with closed doors on Executive business.
WEDNEsnay, FEn. 2.
BANK OF THE UNITED STATES.
Mr. BENTON, in pursuance of notice given yesterday, rose to ask leave to introduce the following resolution:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of .7merica in Congress dissembled, That the charter of the Bank of the United States ought not to be renewed.
Mr. BENTON commenced his speech in support of the application for the leave he was about to ask, with a justification of himself for bringing forward the question of renewal at this time, when the charter had still five years to run; and bottomed his vindication chiefly on the right he possessed, and the necessity he was under to answer cer. tain reports of one of the committees of the Senate, made in opposition to certain resolutions relative to the bank, which he had submitted to the Senate at former sessions, and which reports he had not had an opportunity of answering. He said it had been his fortune, or chance, some three years ago, to submit a resolution in relation to the undrawn balances of public money in the hands of the bank, and to accompany it with some poor remarks of unfavorable implication to the future existence of that institution. My resolution [said Mr. B.] was referred to the Committee on Finance, who made a report decidedly adverse to all my views, and eminently favorable to the bank, both as a present and future institution. This report came in on the 13th of May, just fourteen days before the conclusion of a six months’ session, when all was hurry and precipitation to terminate the business on hand, and when there was not the least chance to engage the attention of the Senate in the consideration of any new subject. The report was, therefore, laid upon the table unanswered, but was printed by order of the Senate, and that in extra numbers, and widely diffused over the country by means of the newspaper press. At the commencement of the next session, it being irregular to call for the consideration of the past report, I was under the necessity to begin anew, and accordingly submitted my resolution a second time, and that quite early in the session; say on the first day of January. It was my wish and request that this resolution might be discussed in the Senate, but the sentiment of the majority was different, and a second reference of it was made to the Finance Committee. A second report of the same purport with the first was a matter of course; but what did not seem to me to be a matter of course was this; that this second report should not come in until the 20th day of February, just fourteen days again before the end of the session, for it was then the short session, and the Senate as much pinched as before for time to finish the business on hand. No answer could be made to it, but the report was printed, with the former report appended to it; and thus, united like the Siamese twins, and with the apparent, but not real sanction of the Senate, they went forth together to make the tour of the Union in the columns of the newspaper press. Thus, I was a second time out of court; a second time non-suited for want of a replication, when there was no time to file one. I had intended to begin de novo, and for the third time, at the opening of the ensuing session; but, happily, was anticipated and prevented by the annual message of the new President, [General Jackson,] which brought this question of renewing the bank charter directly before Congress. A reference of this part of the message was made, of course, to the Finance Committee: the committee, of course, again reported, and with increased ardor, in favor of the bank. Unhappily this third report, which was an amplification and reiteration of the two former, did not come in until the session was four months advanced, and when the time of the Senate had become engrossed, and its attention absorbed, by the numerous and important subjects which had accumulated
and the proof, that they do not think so.
Bank of the United States.
[FEB. 2, 1831.
upon the calendar. Printing in extra numbers, general circulation through the newspaper Fo and no answer, was the catastrophe of this third reference to the Finance Committee. Thus was I non-suited for the third time. The fourth session has now come round; the same subject is again before the same committee on the reference of the part of the President's second annual message which relates to the bank; and, doubtless, a fourth report of the same import with the three preceding ones, may be expected. But when? is the question. And, as I cannot answer that question, and the session is now two-thirds advanced, and as I have no diposition to be cut off for the fourth time, I have thought proper to create an occasion to deliver my own sentiments, by asking leave to introduce a joint resolution, adverse to the tenor of all the reorts, and to give my reasons against them, while supporting my application for the leave demanded; a course of proceeding which is just to myself, and unjust to no one, since all are at liberty to answer me. These are my personal reasons for this step, and a part of my answer to the objection that I have begun too soon. The conduct of the bank, and its friends, constitutes the second branch of my justification. It is certainly not “too soon” for them, judging by their conduct, to engage in the question of renewing the bank charter. In and out of Congress, they all seem to be of one accord on this point. Three reports of committees in the Senate, and one from a committee of the House of Representatives, have been made in favor of the renewal; and all these reports, instead of being laid away for future use-instead of being stuck in pigeon holes, and labeled for future attention, as things coming forth prematurely, and not wanted for present service—have, on the contrary, been universally received by the bank and its friends, in one great tempest of applause; greeted with every species of acclamation; reprinted in most of the papers, and every effort made to give the widest diffusion, and the highest effect, to the arguments they contain. In addition to this, and at the present session, within a few days past, three thousand copics of the exposition of the affairs of the Bank have been printed by order of the two Houses, a thing never before done, and now intended to blazon the merits of the bank. [Mr. SM1th, of Maryland, here expressed some dissent to this statement; but Mr. B. affirmed its correctness in substance if not to the letter, and continued.] This does not look as if the bank advocates thought it was too soon to discuss the question of renewing the charter; and, upon this exibition of their sentiments, I shall rest the assertion The third branch of my justification rests upon a sense of public duty; upon a sense of what is just and advantageous to the people in general, and to the debtors and stockholders of the bank in particular. The renewal of the charter is
a question which concerns the people at large; and if they aré to have any hand in the decision of this question--if
they are even to know what is done before it is done, it is high time that they and their Representatives in Congress should understand each other's mind upon it. The charter has but five years to run; and if renewed at all, will probably be at some short period, say two or three years,
private, political and pecuniary, general and particular, full discussion, and seasonable decision, is just and proper. I hold myself justified, Mr. President, upon the reasons given, for proceeding in my present application; but, as example is sometimes more authoritative than reason, I will take the liberty to produce one, which is as high in point of authority as it is appropriate in point of application, and which happens to fit the case before the Senate as completely as if it had been made for it. I speak of what has lately been done in the Parliament of Great Britain. It so happens, that the charter of the Bank of England is to expire, upon its own limitation, nearly about the same time with the charter of the Bank of the United States, namely, in the year 1833; and as far back as 1824, no less than nine years before its expiration, the question of its renewal was debated, and that with great freedom, in the British House of Commons. I will read some extracts from that debate, as the fairest way of presenting the example to the Senate, and the most effectual mode of securing to myself the advantage of the sentiments expressed by British statesmen.
Sir Henry Parnell.—“The House should no longer delay to turn its attention to the expediency of renewing the charter of the Bank of England. Heretofore, it had been the regular custom to renew the charter several years before the existing charter had expired. The last renewal was made when the existing charter had eleven years to run: the present charter had nine years only to continue, and he felt very anxious to prevent the making of any agreement between the Government and the bank for a renewal, without a full examination of the policy of again conferring upon the bank of England any exclusive privilege. The practice had been for Government to make a secret arrangement with the Bank; to submit it immediately to the proprietors of the bank for their approbation, and to call upon the House the next day to confirm it, without affording any opportunity of fair deliberation. So much information had been obtained upon the banking trade, and upon the nature of currency in the last fifteen years, that it was particularly necessary to enter upon a full investigation of the policy of renewing the bank charter before any negotiation should be entered upon be. tween the Government and the bank; and he trusted the Government would not commence any such negotiation until the sense of Parliament had been taken on this important subject.” “Mr. Hume said it was of very great importance that his majesty's ministers should take immediate steps to free themselves from the trammels in which they had long been held by the bank. As the interest of money was now nearly on a level with what it was when the bank lent a large sum to Government, he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not listen to any application for a renewal of the bank charter, but would pay off every shilling that had been borrowed from the bank. * * * * * * Let the country gentlemen recollect that the bank was now acting as pawn-broker on a large scale, and lending money on estates, a system entirely
before the time is out, and at any time sooner that a chancé contrary to the original intention of that institution,
can be seen to gallop the renewal through Congress.
* * * * He hoped, before the expiration of
The people, therefore, have no time to lose, if they mean the charter, that a regular inquiry would be made into to have any hand in the decision of this great question. the whole subject.
To the bank itself, it must be advantageous, at least, if
Mr. Edward Ellice. “It (the Bank of England) is a
not desirable, to know its fate at once, that it may avoid, great monopolizing body, enjoying privileges which (if there is to be no renewal,) the trouble and expense of belonged to no other corporation, and no other class of
multiplying branches upon the eve of dissolution, and the his majesty's subjects.
risk and inconvenience of extending loans beyond the term of its existence. To the debtors upon mortgages, and indefinite accommodations, it must be also advantageous,
if not desirable, to be notified in advance of the end of tious how they entertained any such propositions.
* # # & # *
He hoped that the exclusive charter would never again be granted; and that the conduct of the bank during the last ten or twelve years would make Government very cauThe
their indulgences: so that, to every interest, public and right honorable Chancellor of the Exchequer [Mr. Rob
2, 1831.] inson] had protested against the idea of straining any point to the prejudice of the bank; he thought, however, that the bank had very little to complain of, when their stock, after all their past profits, was at 238.” The Chancellor of the Exchequer “deprecated the discussion, as leading to no practical result.” Mr. Alexander Daring “objected to it as premature and unnecessary.” Sir William Pulteney (in another debate.) “The prejudices in favor of the present bank have proceeded from the long habit of considering it as a sort of pillar which nothing can shake. * * * * * * The bank has been supported, and is still supported, by the fear and terror of which, by means of its monopoly, it has had the power to inspire. It is well known, that there is hardly an extensive trader, a manufacturer, or a banker, either in London, or at a distance from it, to whom the bank could not do a serious injury, and could often bring on even insolvency. * * * * * I consider the power given by the monopoly to be of the nature of all other despotic power, which corrupts the des. pot as much as it corrupts the slave. * * * * * * It is in the nature of man, that a monopoly must necessarily be ill-conducted. * * * * * * Whatever language the [private] bankers may feel themselves obliged to hold, yet no one can believe that they have any satisfaction in being, and continuing, under a dominion which has proved so grievous and so disastrous. * * * * * * I can never believe that the merchants and bankers of this country will prove unwilling to emancipate themselves, if they can do it without risking the re. sentment of the bank. No man in France was heard to complain, openly, of the Bastile while it existed. The merchants and bankers of this country have the blood of Englishmen, and will be happy to relieve themselves from a situation of perpetual terror, if they could do it consistently with a due regard to their own interest.” 1Iere is authority added to reason—the force of a great example added to the weight of unanswerable reasons, in favor of early discussion; so that, I trust, I have cf. fectually put aside that old and convenient objection to the “time;” that most flexible and accommodating ob. jection, which applies to all seasons, and all subjects, and is just as available for cutting off a late debate, because it is too late, as it is for stifling an early one, because it is too early. But, it is said that the debate will injure the stockholders; that it depreciates the value of their property, and that it is wrong to sport with the vested rights of individuals. This complaint, supposing it to come from the stockholders themselves, is both absurd and ungrateful. It is absurd, because the stockholders, at least so many of then as are not foreigners, must have known when they accepted a charter of limited duration, that the approach of its expiration would renew the debate upon the propriety of its existence; that every citizen had a right, and every public man was under an obligation, to declare his sentinents freely; that there was nothing in the charter, numerous as its peculiar privileges were, to exempt the bank from that freedom of speech and writing, which extends to all our public affairs; and that the charter was not to be renewed here, as the Bank of England charter had formerly been renewed, by a private arrangement among its friends, suddenly produced in Congress, and galloped through without the knowledge of the country. The American part of the stockholders (for would not reply to the complaints of the foreigners) must have known all this; and known it when they accepted the charter. They accepted it, subject to this known consequence; and, therefore, the complaint about injur. ing their property is absurd. That it is ungrateful, must Vol. VII. —4
Bank of the United States.
be apparent to all who will reflect upon the great privileges which these stockholders will have enjoyed for
twenty years, and the large profits they have already de
rived from their charter. They have been dividing seven per cent, per annum, unless when prevented by their own mismanagement; and have laid up a real estate of three millions of dollars for future division; and the money which has done these handsome things, instead of being diminished or impaired in the process, is still worth largely upwards of one hundred cents to the dollar: say, one hundred and twenty-five cents. For the peculiar privileges which enabled them to make these profits, the stockholders ought to be grateful; but, like all persons who have been highly favored with undue benefits, they mistake a privilege for a right—a favor for a duty—and resent, as an attack upon their property, a refusal to prolong their undue advantages. There is no ground for these complaints, but for thanks and benedictions rather, for permitting the bank to live out its numbered days! That institution has forfeited its charter. It may be shut up at any hour. It lives from day to day by the indulgence of those whom it daily attacks; and, if any one is ignorant of this fact, let him look at the case of the Bank of the United States against Owens and others, decided in the Supreme Court, and reported in the 2d Peters. [Here Mr. B. read a part of this case, showing that it was a case of usury at the rate of forty-six per cent. and that Mr. Sergeant, counsel for the bank, resisted the decision of the Supreme Court, upon the ground that it would expose the charter of the bank to forfeiture; and that the decision was, nevertheless, given upon that ground; so that the bank, being convicted of taking usury, in violation of its charter, was liable to be deprived of its charter, at any time that a scire facias should issue against it. ) Mr. B. resumed. Before I proceed to the consideration of the resolution, I wish to be indulged in adverting to a rule or principle of parliamentary practice, which it is only necessary to read now in order to avoid the possibility of any necessity for recurring to it hereafter. It is the rule which forbids any member to be present— which, in fact, requires him to withdraw—during the discussion of any question in which his private interest may be concerned; and authorizes the expurgation from the Journal of any vote which may have been given under the predicament of an interested motive. I demand that the Secretary of the Senate may read the rule to which I allude. [The Secretary read the following rule:] “Where the private interests of a member are concerned in a bill or question, he is to withdraw. And where such an interest has appeared, his voice has been disallowed, even after a division. In a case so contrary, not only to the laws of decency, but to the fundamental principles of the social compact, which denies to any man to be a judge in his own cause, it is for the honor of the House that this rule, of immemorial observance, should be strictly adhered to.” First: Mr. President, I object to the renewal of the charter of the Bank of the United States, because I look upon the bank as an institution too great and powerful to be tolerated in a Government of free and equal laws. Its power is that of a purse; a power more potent than that of the sword; and this power it possesses to a degree and extent that will enable this bank to draw to itself too much of the political power of this Union; and too much of the individual property of the citizens of these States. The money power of the bank is both direct and indirect. [The Vice PREsident here intimated to Mr. B. that he was out of order, and had not a right to go into the
merits of the bank upon the motion upon which he had
the great cities, corporate bodies, merchants, traders,