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United States Bank.
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House of REPRESENTATIVES, April 13, 1830. Mr. M’DUFFIE. It remains for the committee to show that the Bank of the United States is a necessary and proper," or, in other words, a natural and appropriate, means of executing the powers vested in the federal government. In the discussion of 1791, and also in that before the Supreme Court, the powers of raising, collecting, and disbursing, the public revenue, of borrowing money on the credit of the United States, and paying the public debt, were those which were supposed most clearly to carry with them the incidental right of incorporating a bank, to facilitate these operations. There can be no doubt that these fiscal operations are greatly facilitated by a bank, and it is confidently believed that no person has presided twelve months over the treasury, from its first organization to the present time, without coming to the conclusion that such an institution is exceedingly useful to the public finances in time of peace, but indispensable in time of war. But as this view of the question has been fully unfolded in former discussions familiar to the house, the committee will proceed to examine the relation which the Bank of the United States bears to another of the powers of the federal government, but slightly adverted to in former discussions of the subject.
The power to “coin money and fix the value thereof” is expressly and exclusively vested in Congress. This grant was evidently intended to invest Congress with the power of regulating the circulating medium. “Coin” was regarded, at the period of framing the Constitution, as sy
currency,” as it was then generally believed that bank notes could only be maintained in circulation by being the true representative of the precious metals. The word “coin," therefore, must be regarded as a particular term, standing as the representative of a general idea. No principle of sound construction will justify a rigid adherence to the leiter, in opposition to the plain intention of the clause. If, for example, the gold bars of Ricardo should be substituted for our present coins, by the general consent of the commercial world, could it be maintained that Congress would not have the power to make such money, and fix its value, because it is not "coined”? This would be sacrificing sense to sound, and substance to mere form. This clause of the Constitution is analogous to that which gives Congress the power “to establish post-roads.” Giving to the word " establish” its restricted interpretation, as being equivalent to "fix" or "prescribe," can it be doubted that Congress has the power to establish a canal, or a river, as a post-route, as well as a road ? Roads were the ordinary channels of conveyance, and the term was, therefore, used as synonymous with “ routes,” whatever might be the channel of transportation ; and, in like manner, “ coin " being the ordinary and most known form of a circulating medium, that term was used as synonymous with currency.
An argument in favor of the view just taken may be fairly deduced from the fact, that the states are expressly prohibited from coining money, or emitting bills of credit," and from “ making any thing but gold and silver a lawful tender in payment of debts." This strongly confirms the idea, that the subject of regulating the circulating medium, whether consisting of coin or paper, was, at the same time that it was taken from the control of the states, vested in the only depository in which it could be placed, consistently with the obvious design of baving a common measure of value throughout the Union.
MR. MONROE'S OBJECTIONS
" AN ACT FOR THE PRESERVATION AND REPAIR OF THE CUMBER
LAND ROAD." Having duly considered the bill, entitled “ An Act for the Preservation and Repair of the Cumberland Road," it is with deep regret, approving as I do the policy, that I am compelled to object to its passage, and to return it to the House of Representatives, in which it originated, under a conviction that Congress do not possess the power, under the Constitution, to pass such a law.
A power to establish turnpikes with gates and tolls, and to enforce the collection of tolls by penalties, implies a power to adopt and execute a system of internal improvement. A right to iinpose duties, to be paid by all persons passing a certain road, and on horses and carriages, as is done by this bill, involves the right to take land from the proprietor, on a valuation, and to pass laws for the protection of the road from injuries; and if it exist as to one road, it exists as to any other, and to as many roads as Congress may think proper to establish. A right to legislate for one of these purposes, is a right to legislate for the others. It is a complete right of jurisdiction and govereignty, for all the purposes of internal improvement, and not merely the right of appropriating money, under the power vested in Congress to make appropriations, – under which power, with the consent of the states through which the road passes, the work was originally commenced, and has been so far executed. I am of opinion that Congress do not possess this power; that the states, individually, cannot grant it; for, although they may assent to the appropriation of money within their limits for such purposes, they can grant no power of jurisdiction or sovereignty by special compacts with the United States. This power can be granted only by an amendment to the Constitution, and in the mode prescribed by it.
If the power exist, it must, either because it has been specifically granted to the United States, or that which is incidental to some power which has been specifically granted. If we examine the specific grants of power, we do not find it among them; nor is it incidental to any power which has been specifically granted.
It never has been contended that the power was specifically granted. It is claimed only as being incidental to one or more of the powers which are specifically granted. The following are the powers froin which it is said to be derived :
1st, from the right to establish post-offices and post-roads; 2d, from the right to declare war; 3d, to regulate commerce; 4th, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare; 5th, from the power to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution all the powers vested by the Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof; 6th, and lastly, from the power to dispose of, and make all needful rules and regulations respecting, the territory and other property of the United States.
According to my judgment, it cannot be derived from either of those powers, nor from all of them united; and, in consequence, does not exist.
JAMES MONROE. Washington, May 4, 1822.
On the evening of the 24th, President Monroe also transmitted his "views," in support of his velo, in an elaborate argument, which is the exposition quoted in President Jackson's objections.
OBJECTIONS OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED
ON RETURNING TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES THE ENROLLED BILL, ENTITLED AN ACT AUTHORIZING A SUBSCRIPTION OF STOCK IN THE MAYS. VILLE, WASHINGTON, PARIS, AND LEXINGTON
TURNPIKE ROAD COMPANY." The constitutional power of the federal government to construct or promote works of internal improvement presents itself in two points of view - the first, as bearing upon the sovereignty of the states within whose limits their execution is contemplated,
if jurisdiction of the territory which they may occupy be claimed as necessary to their preservation and use; the second, as asserting the simple right to appropriate money froin the national treasury in aid of such works when undertaken by state authority, surrendering the claim of jurisdiction. In the first view, the question of power is an open one, and can be decided without the embarrassment attending the other, arising from the practice of the government.
Although frequently and strenuously attempted, the power, to this extent, has never been exercised by the government in a single instance. It does not, in niy opinion, possess it, and no bill, therefore, which admits it, can receive my official sanction.
But, in the other view of the power, the question is differently situated. The ground taken at an early period of the government was, “ that, whenever money has been raised by the general authority, and is to be applied to a particular measure, a question arises whether the particular measure be within the enuinerated authorities vested in Congress. If it be, the money requisite for it may be applied to it; if not, no such application can be made." The document in which this principle was first advanced is of deservedly high authority, and should be held in grateful remembrance for its immediate agency in rescuing the country from much existing abuse, and for its conservative effect upon some of the most valuable principles of the Constitution. The symmetry and purity of the government would, doubtless, have been better preserved, if this restriction of the power of appropriation could have been maintained without weakening its ability to fulfil the general objects of its institution - an effect so likely to attend its adinission, notwithstanding its apparent fitness, that every subsequent administration of the government, embracing a period of thirty out of the forty-two years of ils existence, has adopted a more enlarged construction of the power.
In the administration of Mr. Jefferson, we have two examples of the exercise of the right of appropriation, which, in the consideration that led to their adoption, and in their effects upon the public mind, have had a greater agency in marking the character of the power, than any subsequent events. I allude to the payment of fifteen millions of dollars for the purchase of Louisiana, and to the original appropriation for the construction of the Cumberland Road; the latter act deriving much weight from the acquiescence and approbation of three of the most powerful of the original members of the confederacy, expressed through their respective legislatures. Although the circumstances of ihe latter case may be such as to deprive so much of it as relates to the actual construction of the road of the force of an obligatory exposition of the Constitution, it must, nevertheless, be admitted that, so far as the mere appropriation of money is concerned, they present the principle in its most imposing aspect. No less than twenty-three different laws have been passed through all the forms of the Constitution, appropriating upwards of two millions of dollars out of the national treasury in support of that improvement, with the approbation of every President of the United States, including my predecessor, since its commencement.
Independently of the sanction given to appropriations for the Cumberland and other roads and objects, under this power, the administration of Mr. Madison was characterized by an act which furnishes the strongest evidence of his opinion extant. A bill was passed through both houses of Congress, and presented for his approval, " setting apart and pledging certain funds for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of watercourses, in order to facilitate, promote, and give security to internal commerce among the several states; and to render more casy, and less expensive, the means and provision for the common defence." Regarding the bill as asserting a power in the federal government to construct roads and canals within the linits of the states in which they were made, he objected to its passage, on the ground of its unconstitutionality, declaring that the assent of the respective states, in the mode provided by the bill, could not confer the powers in question; that the only cases in which the consent and cession of particular states can extend the power of Congress are those specified and provided for in the Constitution ; and superadding to this avowal his opinion, that “a restriction of the power to provide for the common defence and general welfare,' to cases which are to be provided for by the expenditure of money, would still leave within the legislative power of Congress all the great and most important measures of government, money being the ordinary and necessary means of carrying them into execution.” I have not been able to consider these declarations in any other point of view than as a concession that the right of appropriation is not limited by the power to carry into effect the measure for which the money is asked, as was formerly contended.
The views of Mr. Monroe upon this subject were not left to inference. During his administration, a bill was passed through' both houses of Congress, conferring the jurisdiction, and prescribing the mode by which the federal government should exercise it in the case of the Cumberland road. He returned it, with objections to its passage, and, in assigning them, took occasion to say that, in the early stages of the government, he had inclined to the construction that it had no right to expend money,
except in the performance of acts authorized by the other specific grants of power, according to a strict construction of them; but that, on further reflection and observation, his mind had undergone a change ; that his opinion then was, “that Congress have unlimited power to raise money, and that, in its appropriation, they have a discretionary power, restricted only by the duty to appropriate it to purposes of com. mon defence, and of general, national, not local, or state, benefit;' and this was avowed to be the governing principle through the residue of his administration. The views of the last administration are of such recent date as to render a particular reference to them unnecessary. It is well known that the appropriating power, to the utmost extent which had been claimed for it, in relation to internal improvements, was fully recognized and exercised by it.
This brief reference to known facts will be sufficient to show the difficulty, if not impracticability, of bringing back the operation of the government to the construction of the Constitution set up in 1798, assuming that to be its true reading, in relation to the power under consideration; thus giving an adınonitory proof of the force of implication, and the necessity of guarding the Constitution, with sleepless vigilance, against the authority of precedents which have not the sanction of its most plainly. detined powers; for, although it is the duty of all to look to that sacred instrument, instead of the statute-book, – lo repudiate, at all times, encroachments upon its spirit, which are too apt to be effected by the conjuncture of peculiar and facilitating circumstances, - it is not less true that the public good and the nature of our political institutions require that individual differences should yield to a well-settled acquiescence of the people and confederated authorities, in particular constructions of the Constitution, on doubtful points. Not to concede this much to the spirit of our institutions would impair their stability, and defeat the objects of the Constitution itself.
The only remaining view which it is my intention to present at this time, involves the expediency of embarking in a system of internal improvement, without a previous amendment of the Constitution, explaining and defining the precise powers of the federal government over it. Assuming the right to appropriate money, to aid in the construction of national works, to be warranted by the contemporaneous and continued exposition of the Constitution, its insufficiency for the successful prosecution of them must be admitted by all candid minds. If we look to usage to define the extent of the right, that will be found so variant, and embracing so inuch that has been overruled, as to involve the whole subject in great uncertainty, and to render the execution of our respective duties in relation to it replete with difficulty and em. barrassment. It is in regard to such works, and the acquisition of additional territory, that the practice obtained its first footing. In most, if not all, other disputed questions of appropriation, the construction of the Constitution may be regarded as unsettled, if the right to apply money, in the enumerated cases, is placed on the ground of usage.
If it be the desire of the people that the agency of the federal government shoulă be confined to the appropriation of money, in aid of such undertakings, in virtue of the stałe authorities, then the occasion, the manner, and the extent of the appropriations, should be made the subject of constitutional regulation. This is the more necessary, in order that they may be equitable among the several states; promote harmony between sections of the Union and their representatives; preserve other parts of the Constitution from being undermined by the exercise of doubtful powers, or the too great extension of those which are not so; and protect the whole subject against the deleterious influence of combinations to carry, by concert, measures which, considered by themselves, might meet but little countenance.
That a constitutional adjustment of this power, upon equitable principles, is, in the highest degree, desirable, can scarcely be doubted ; nor can it fail to be promoted by every sincere friend to the success of our political institutions. In no government are appeals to the source of power, in cases of real doubt, more suitable than in ours. good motive can be assigned for the exercise of power by the constituted authorities; while those, for whose benefit it is to be exercised, have not conferred it, and may not De willing to confer it. It would seem to me that an honest application of the conceded powers of the general government to the advancement of the common weal presents a sufficient scope to satisfy a reasonable ambition. The difficulty and supposed impracticability of obtaining an amendment of the Constitution, in this respect, is, I firmly believe, in a great degree, unfounded.
In presenting these opinions, I have spoken with the freedom and candor which I thought the occasion for their expression called for; and now respectfully return the bill which has been under consideration, for your further deliberation and judgment.
ANDREW JACKSON. [General Jackson, in addition to the above, has exercised the veto power on several bills. -. See ArpendIX.]
PRONOUNCING THE ALIEN AND SEDITION LAWS TO BE UNCONSTITU
TIONAL, AND DEFINING THE RIGHTS OF THE STATES.
DRAWN BY MR. MADISON.
IN THE VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES,
Friday, December 21, 1798. Resolved, That the General Assembly of Virginia doth unequivocally express a firm resolution to maintain and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of this state, against every aggression, either foreign or domestic; and that they will support the government of the United States in all measures warranted by the former.
That this Assembly most solemnly declares a warm attachment to the union of the states, to maintain which it pledges its powers; and that, for this end, it is their duty to watch over and oppose every infraction of those principles which constitute the only basis of that union, because a faithful observance of them can alone secure its existence and the public happiness.
That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it riews the powers of the federal government as resulting from the compact to which the states are parties, as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting that compact, as no further valid than they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact ; and that, in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states, who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose, for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining, within their respective limits, the authorities, rights, and liberties, appertaining to them.
That the General Assembly doth also express its deep regret, that a spirit has, in sundry instances, been manifested by the federal government to enlarge its powers by forced constructions of the constitutional charter which defines them; and that indications have appeared of a design to expound certain general phrases (which, having been copied from the very limited grant of powers in the former Articles of Confederation, were the less liable to be misconstrued) so as to destroy the meaning and effect of the particular enumeration which necessarily explains and limits the general phrases, and so as to consolidate the states, by degrees, into one sovereignty, the obvious tendency and inevitable result of which would be, to transform the present republican system of the United States into an absolute, or, at best, a mixed monarchy.
That the General Assembly doth particularly PROTEST against the palpoble and alarming infractions of the Constitution, in the two late cases of the "Alien and Sedition Acts,” passed at the last session of Congress; the first of which exercises a power nowhere delegated to the federal government, and which, by uniting legislative and judicial powers to those of erecutire, subverts the general principles of free government, as well as the particular organization and positive provisions of the Federal Constitution ; and the other of which acts exercises, in like manner, a power not delegated by the Constitution, but, on the contrary, erpressly and positively forbidden by one of the amendments thereto, - a power which,