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Mar 5, 1832.]
[H. or R.
admitted that if he were a citizen of Alexandria he would serving that he had been startled and astounded at the strain every nerve to effect the object. And as to the enormous amount of appropriations made this session for power of the Government, it had as much right to take works of internal improvement. the money of Tennessee, or of South Carolina, and apply Mr. BURGES replied, and as strenuously insisted that it for the benefit of Alexandria, as it had to take the mo- thc Government had as much right to appropriate money ney of the people of Alexandria, and apply it to the im- to facilitate and protect the internal commerce of the provement of Deer island, in Boston harbor. It could not country, as it had to expend millions upon millions in chebe held as a duty to return money collected to the hands rishing and protecting its foreign commerce. from whence it came; else, why collect it?. It was the Mr. BLAIR, of South Carolina, demanded the yeas and very office of Government to gather from all, and apply nays on Mr. DoDDRIDGE's amendment. the proceeds in such a manner as the various wants of They were ordered, and, being taken, stood as follows: different parts of the country might require. The people for the amendment 64; against it 87. of the Union were taxed about two dollars a head, and as The bill was then, on motion of Mr. DODDRIDGE, laid Alexandria contained about 9,000 people, she paid to the upon the table; and the House took up the other bill auGovernment $18,000 a year. That money had gone into thorizing a subscription for 1,250 shares in the stock of other parts of the Union. Why was not the money from the Alexandria Canal Company. (The shares are $100 elsewhere to be applied there? Justice required it; each.) and Congress was the only power on earth that could Mr. DODDRIDGE moved as an amendment to strike effect it.
out 1,250 and insert 1,500; but it was negatived. He then Mr. BLAIR explained, in reply, and vindicated the moved an appropriating clause, which was also rejected -consistency of his course.
yeas 61, nays 76. Mr. BARBOUR, though he denied the power of the The question being then put on engrossing the bill and General Government to construct works of internal im- ordering it to a third reading, it was decided by yeas and provement, insisted that, as the constitution had given to nays as follows: yeas 66, nays 83. Congress the power of exclusive legislation, and under So the bill was rejected. that power Congress had taxed the District, it was bound, Adjourned. having accepted the cession of Alexandria, and thereby come, in loco parentis, to her people, to exert over them
SATURDAY, May 5. a guardian care. He referred to a law of Virginia, under
WISCASSET COLLECTOR. which the people of Alexandria, having subscribed three. fifths, might call upon the Government to aid them in the This subject again coming up according to order, remaining two-fifths of the sum they wished to make up, Mr. SLADE, of Vermont, rose, and said it had not, until which would entitle them to a much larger sum than that recently, been his intention to trouble the House with any they now asked for. She had never subscribed this large remarks on the subject; for, although the range of inquiry sum for the purpose of throwing her whole trade into the which had been indulged, and which appropriately be. hands of her rival. He admitted the correctness of Mr. longed to the case, had introduced topics of an exciting EVERETT's estimate, as a general average of the indirect character, and especially to one who had been an early taxation of the people of the Union, but reminded that victim of the “reform," he had determined to leave the gentleman that the inhabitants of cities consumed far investigation to other and abler hands. But, sir, said Mr. more imported articles than those in the country, and S., I am no longer permitted to remain silent. Having therefore paid a far heavier tax. He concluded by calling been assailed on this floor with a charge of misconduct, on the House to remember that when the tears of this which has been presented as the ground of my removal land were mingling with the ashes of the capitol, the from office, I have no alternative but to submit to the gross people of Alexandria had come forward to the relief of imputation upon my integrity and bonor, or stand up in the Government.
my own defence. Thus called on to take the floor, it is Mr. POLK adverted to the debate which had occurred my purpose to look a little into the main subject of inquiry when the Alexandria company had been incorporated, which is involved in the proposition before the House. and insisted that, from the language then held by Mr. This, sir, has been treated by some gentlemen as a triMERCER in advocating that measure, an impression had Aing matter, thrown into this House for the purpose of been received that the people of Alexandria were to do making it the occasion of a party debate. I regard it in a this thing on their own resources, and that the Govern- very different light. Every officer of this Government is ment was not to be called upon for money. He denied responsible to the people, through their representatives, that the lateral canal would be of any use for the purpo- on this floor: and, sir, whether we look at this as an isoses of Government, and refused to subscribe to the argu- lated case, or examine it in connexion with the principles ment that the Government, by its own act, had become which it involves, there are questions presented which it morally bound to grant this aid. Had such an argument becomes us deliberately to examine. been advanced when the incorporation was asked for, it What is this case? The “reform" which has recently could never have been obtained.
swept through the country, reached, in its desolating proMr. EVERETT, of Vermont, adverted to the fact that, gress, the State of Maine; and, among the first of its opewhen Alexandria had made her subscription to the Chesa- rations, created a vacancy in the office of collector of the peake and Ohio canal, the understanding was that that customs at Wiscasset, which it filled with Thomas McCrate, canal was to terminate at a point above Georgetown. whose alleged misconduct is the subject of the present in. Georgetown and Alexandria would then have been left to quiry. McCrate, true to the principles which had placed compete, in bringing its advantages home to themselves; him in office, proceeded to "reform" the department but the Government having since caused the extension of over which he was called to preside. In doing this, he the canal to Georgetown, it was now bound in good faith appointed John McClintock to the office of inspector of to aid in extending it to Alexandria also.
the customs. McClintock held the office one year and Mr. MERCER replied, and explained.
three-quarters; at the expiration of which time he was reMr. POLK briefly rejoined; and then
moved by the collector. The causes of that removal are Mr. MASON went into a constitutional argyment to set forth in McClintock's affidavit, which has been made prove that the Government had no power to apply re- the basis of the present inquiry. sources drawn from the whole Union in making a dona. That affidavit states that, at the time of his removal, he tion for a local object; and he closed his remarks by ob-) had served seven quarters; that the amount of fees which
H. OF R.]
[May 5, 1832.
had accrued to him was six hundred and twenty-nine dol-'cholera in Europe, and at length got “down east” to lars, of which two bundred and one dollars were then due; Wiscasset. McClintock was, probably, the first subject; that the collector proposed to retain twenty-five percent. of and it must be admitted it found a hard one to begin the whole amount of said fees, and required him to take upon. It did not take at Wiscasset. After the indignant the oath provided by law, that he had received the full rejection of the proposition by McClintock, the collector amount, and had given no part, directly nor indirectly, to probably became alarmed, and did not venture to repeat any person—which oath he refused to take; and that, the attempt. thereupon, the collector removed him from office for such In the next place, these subordinates say that McClinrefusal.
tock never complained to them that he had not received Here, then, is presented the double offence of attempt- his fees. Sir, he does not now complain that he has not ing to extort money from the inspector, and a solicitation 'received them. He did receive them. This was not the to commit the crime of perjury. How is this charge met? question. The witnesses knew it was not. The question is, The mode in which it is presented is first objected to. It whether twenty-five per cent. was demanded of him, and comes in the simple form of an affidavit from McClintock. his oath required to cover the demand. Why do the witAnd how should it be presented? Are any particular for- nesses carefully avoid this point? One of them is particumalities required? The facts are before us, properly veri- lar to say that he was present at the custom-house when fied by the oath of a credible witness. What more do McClintock was paid in full. But what has this to do with the gentlemen want? What more can they want, to form the previous demand of twenty-five per cent, and a false oath? basis of an inquiry by this House? The channel through The witnesses then proceed to say that McClintock newhich the testimony comes is next made the subject of ver pretended that his removal was for the cause alleged. animadversion. It was sent to an honorable Senator from And one of them gives us the important information that, the State of Maine, who put it into the hands of a member if such had been the cause, he thinks it would have been of this House, that it might become the subject of inquiry very natural for McClintock to have mentioned it to him. where it might, properly, be inquired into. And the gen- Now, it happens, unfortunately for the defence, that to tleman from Maine (Mr. Jarvis) has permitted himself to one of these affidavits there is annexed a copy of a letter, accompany the allusion to that Senator with disgraceful addressed by the collector to McClintock soon after his imputations on his character; as though, if true, they could removal, in which he said he was informed that McClinaffect the merits of the question before us.
tock had “made it his business to call at the stores,” &c. In the next place, the Treasury Department is searched; and make the charge that the collector liad removed him and it is discovered that McClintock, who has sworn that for refusing to pay the twenty-five per cent, and take the he served seven quarters, served only six, for which his oath. The collector's own letter, therefore, disposes effees amounted to only five hundred and twenty-eight dol. fectually of this part of the defence. It is worthy of re. lars. To meet this defence, I have in my hand a letter mark, that the collector, in this letter, attempts to make a from McClintock to an honorable member from Maine, false issue, by saying that, if he (McClintock) “would (Mr. Evans,) which states, what cannot be disputed, that look at his account, he would find that he had received he served one quarter under an appointment from the cold his full fees;" when that same letter shows that the comlector before his name was returned by the collector to plaint was not that he had not received his fees, but that the Treasury Department; that the appointment was not he had been removed for refusing to pay twenty-five per approved by the Secretary of the Treasury, as the law re- cent., and cover it by his oath. quired it should be, until the expiration of that quarter; In the last place, the witnesses say that the removal of in consequence of which, it does not appear, on the trea. McClintock was on account of his intemperance. They sury books, that his service, or compensation, commenced are particular to add that it was “loudly called for by before that time. But this is not all; for it further ap- public opinion.” And one of them says he became very pears that, in order to obtain an allowance at the Treasu- intemperate soon after he was appointed. The first inry Department for the first quarter's services of McClin- quiry here, is, why was he suffered to remain in office tock, the collector caused the account for those services more than a year and a half after he became “very into be put into the account of another officer of the cus- temperate?" If removed for intemperance, why not be. toms, whose oath that he had received it, the collector fore? The answer is obvious. There must have been procured, and transmitted to the Treasury Department. another cause for the removal. But if he was so intem.
The next defence consists of five affidavits procured by perate as that his removal was loudly called for by public the collector. And who are the witnesses? Four of them opinion, are there not some of the citizens of that commuare officers in the custom-house department, appointed by nity, besides the subordinates in the custom house departthe collector, with an aggregate annual compensation of ment, who can testify to it? Why are they silent on this about two thousand four hundred dollars, and dependent subject? There can be but one answer to his question— on him for their continuance in office; and one of them is an answer which will suggest itself to every gentleman the very man who swore that he received the fees which who hears me. were paid to McClintock for his first quarter's services! It is apparent, on a review of the testimony, that it careThe fifth witness is the marshal of the State of Maine, ap- fully avoids the real question--the demand of a per cent: pointed by General Jackson, upon the removal of his pre- age, and a false oath, and lays the whole stress on what is decessor. Thus situated, and perfectly understanding not disputed—the final payment to McClintock of all his where was the laboring point in the case, they may be sup- fees. The only question in the case is as to the credit of posed to have made the best possible defence in their power. McClintock; and this is made to turn entirely on lis sup
Now, let us look at the testimony, and see how it meets posed intemperance, of which nobody in that community the case.
In the first place, they all say (except the mar- seems to know any thing, except the subordinates in the shal) that they have full confidence in the honesty of the custom-house department. Now, why not settle the whole collector. This was, of course, to have been expected. question of credit at once, by the test which was attempted Next, the subordinates in the custom-house all say they to be applied the other day, by a question put to a wit. have been paid their full fees by the collector, and that ness on the trial of Samuel Houston? no demand has been made by him of any part. So, then, (a witness whom it was sought to impeach) tell you he it seems, the collector began with McClintock. The sys had been removed from office?" I was surprised to hear tem of requiring from officers a contribution to support the question; but since removal from office is
, by many the party, it is understood, began in New York. It tra- gentlemen, considered so materially to affect the credit of velled in various directions through the country, like the li witness as to render proper its introduction into a grave
“ Did not Blake
trial before this House, it would certainly be very conve account against the United States. (U. S. Laws, vol. 3, nient to introduce it in this case. It would settle the ques- pages 238-9.) The law of May 7th, 1822, (U. S. Laws, tion at once. But, seriously, since tire whole case turns vol. 1, page 82,) provides that no account for the comupon the credibility of McClintock, why are not the affi- pensation for services of any clerk, or other person, employ. davits of some of the substantial, disinterested people of ed in any duties in relation to the collection of the revenue, the vicinity of his residence, introduced for that purpose? shall be allowed, until such clerk or other person shall Why, in fact, do the very witnesses, who have been intro- have certified, on oath or affirmation, that the same serduced in the defence, omit to say one word as to his vices have been performed, that he has received the full reputation for truth in the community where he resides? sum therein charged to his own use and benefit, and that Now, who does not perceive that, so far from weakening he has not paid, deposited, or assigned, nor contracted to the testimony of McClintock, these very affidavits do, in pay, deposite, or assign, any part of such compensation to effect, most abundantly sustain it?
the use of any other person, nor in any way, directly or But, sir, no direct attempts have been made to impeach indirectly, paid or given, nor contracted to pay or give, his truth, for the best of all reasons-it cannot be im- any reward or compensation for his office or employpeached; and the facts I will now state show why it can- ment, or the emoluments thereof." The oath provided
Immediately after his removal, he was appointed for in this law it is as much the duty of the collector to resheriff's deputy (by a Jackson sheriff) in the county where quire, as to make the payment of which it is a voucher. he resides--an office requiring, as all know, the active It is, indeed, the collector's voucher of his account against exertions of a sober, vigilant man. He has, moreover, the United States, so far as it embraces such payment. since been appointed, by the Governor and Council of And yet, sir, in the face of all this, the gentleman from Maine, a justice of the peace; and, withal, invested with Ohio [Mr. Kennon) has gravely asked, “Where is the the distinction of a justice of the quorum. Nor is this all. violation of official duty?" Sir, the whole of this was an Since this attack has been made on his reputation here, official transaction, and involves a palpable violation of ofthe good people of the town in which he resides (it is a ficial trust. Jackson town, sir!) have elected him to the highly re Permit me now to examine, for a few moments, the sponsible office of selectman! And who do you think, Mr. principal offence in this case--the attempt to suborn the Speaker, was his competitor? One of the very witnesses inspector to commit the crime of perjury: whose affidavits have been produced here for the purpose have been surprised to hear gentlemen contend that of discrediting his testimony! And yet, sir, this jolin this is not a misdemeanor. The gentleman from Ohio McClintock has been represented on this floor, by a gen- [Mr. Kennon) says that “this charge amounts to no tleman from Maine, as a man entitled to no credit, and of crime or misdemeanor, known to the laws of the counwhose affidavit it has, for effect in this case, been recently try, much less to a violation of official duty. It was, in said in the official paper in this city, that it is “the affida- the worst aspect of the case, but an attempt to commit a vit of a drunken subaltern in the custom-house at Wiscas- crime.” Now, if the gentleman will consult the authoriset!!” I need hardly say, sir, that if ever the credit of a ties on criminal law, I venture to say he will bardly find witness was sustained, it is that of John McClintock; and if one which does not clearly recognise the principle that his testimony will not warrant us in going, at least, into an an attempt to commit a crime," or an incitement or soinquiry into the case, I know not what can.
licitation to commit it, is a misdemeanor. I will not detain Having, as I trust, shown that the attempts to shake the the House with reading authorities on this point. I will credit of the witness have not only failed, but that they only ask permission to refer to a short note of Christian, have, in effect, established it, I will detain the House a embracing the law on this subject, which I find in Blackfew moments to examine the question whether the offence stone's Commentaries, vol. 4, pag'e 221. charged against the collector is impeachable. The con. “ It has been decided (says Christian) that an attempt stitution of the United States provides that the “Presi- or preparation to set fire to one's own house, though the dent, Vice President, and all civil officers, shall be removed fire be never kindled, is a misdemeanor. And that every on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, attempt to commit a felony is a misdemeanor; and, in ge. and other high crimes and misdemeanors.” “A crime or neral, an attempt to commit a misdemeanor is an offence misdemeanor is an act committed, or omitted, in violation of the same nature. (Rex vs. Scofield, Cald. 397.) of some public law.” I do not contend that every viola- so, also, an incitement or solicitation to commit a crime tion of law constitutes an impeachable offence. It must is a misdemeanor. (Rex vs. Higgins, 2 East, 5.) The be a “high crime or misdemeanor.” And such, as I intend principle of these cases is well illustrated by Lord Coke, presently to show, is the act of attempting to induce the who, after treating of single combats and affrays, says, commission of the crime of perjury.
• If any subject challenge another to fight, this is also an But, independently of the common law offence of attempt. offence, before any combat be performed, and punishable ing to suborn a witness to commit perjury, there is, in this by law; for, quando aliquid prohibetur, prohibetur el omne, case, another and a distinct violation of law, which consti- per quod devenitur ad illud... 3 Just. 158.” tutes a misdemeanor. The collector has been guilty of a If the gentleman from Ohio will look into the fourth voviolation of his official duty--not a mere omission of it, lume of Chitty's criminal law, he will find the form of an through ignorance or inadvertence, but a wilful violation. indictment for the very offence I am considering, with a And this, it should be remembered, involves a violation of reference to authorities to sustain it. Indeed, sir, it would the oath which bound him to that duty-a violation which, hardly seem necessary to consult the books to determine although it does not subject him to the pains and penalties that is an incitement or solicitation to commit a crime” is of perjury, involves its guilt, in foro conscientiæ--a guilt itself criminal; it is a dictate of common sense--a princienhanced by a consideration of the relation which he sus ple level to the comprehension of all. To solicit the comtains to the public; imposing, as it does on all public offi- mission of crime is, in fact, in some aspects, worse than cers, obligations of a peculiarly high and sacred character. the commission of the crime itself; inasmuch as the artful,
But what official duty did he violate? The collector is cool, deliberate temper is worse than the victim of his charged, by law, with the entire supervision of his depart- wiles. Sir, it has been so from the beginning of time. ment. He is to appoint the inspectors, weighers, mea- The history of human apostacy commences with a signal surers, gaugers, &c., subject to the approval of the Se- illustration of it, when cretary of the Treasury; (Ú. S. Laws, vol. 1, page 155;)
The enemy of mankind enclosed
Curled many a wanton wreath, in sight of Eve,
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(Mar 5, 1832.
The circumstances of this case, as disclosed in the testi- the subordinate, “that he has received the full sum there. mony, add a peculiar force to this illustration. “How," in charged (in his account for services) to his own use and says the inspector, in the simplicity of an upright mind--benefit, and that he has not paid, deposited, or assigned, “how can I take an oatlı” that I have not paid, directly nor contracted to pay, deposite, or assign, any part of such or indirectly, any part of my fees to any other person, compensation to the use of any other person, nor in any way, when I permit you to retain twenty-five per cent of them?directly or indirectly, paid or given, nor contracted to pay “Call it a present,” says the insidious tempter-call it a or give, any reward or compensation for his office or empresent!--add falsehood to perjury! What name shall we ployment, or the emoluments thereof." The sale of the give to an offence, which, for the paltry gain of $157, offices for the private emolument of the collector was the would have loaded McClintock with such an accumulation evil in the contemplation of Congress. But there was of crime as this? Who can soberly contend that such an another form in which this evil might be exhibited; which, offence is not impeachable? But there are those who thus I am sure, never entered into the conceptions of the framcontend. And who are they? Men, sir, who sustain an ers of that law. Those, sir, were purer days than we are administration which has removed from office (and remo- now doomed to witness. The system, of which the case val is the great object of impeachment) scores and hun- before us is understood to form a part, of devoting a pordreds for the offence of thinking and acting like freemen. tion of the proceeds of the executive offices, in other And yet this crime is not impeachable! In the name of words, taxing the incumbents with a per centage on their consistency, I ask, what does this mean?
official incomes, for the purpose of sustaining a party, is, The next question which I propose to examine, is, it is believed, an invention of more modern times, an invenwhether it is expedient or necessary to impeach in the pre- tion well suited to the present corrupt system of dispens
ing Executive patronage! I do not agree with those gentlemen who have contend Before proceeding to consider the main proposition, ! ed that this House are absolutely bound, at all events, to will dispose of a sweeping objection which has been urged impeach, when an offence is presented to them. There by the gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. Kexson,] that the imare not only different grades of crime, but different shades peachment of the collector would involve a heavy expense of the same crime. A particular offence may be a “crime to the Government. Sir, it might as well be said that a or misdemeanor" within the letter of the constitution, and good Government is expensive, and therefore we will have yet be accompanied with such circumstances of palliation, no Government. Do we reflect how much a good Goas to justify the exercise of a sound discretion in the exer-vernment depends on the integrity and fidelity of the my. tion of the impeaching power. That power is, moreover, riads of executive officers employed in its administration? an incidental power, recognised, merely, in the constitu- It is in vain that we have able, honest legislators--in vain tion. A grand jury are sworn to present crimes which that they enact wise and wholesome laws--in vain that come to their knowledge. It is their whole duty. Crimes those laws are justly expounded by an impartial and indecannot be punished without indictment or information. pendent judiciary. To say nothing of a refusal to exeBut one of the principal objects of impeachment (removal cute them, which may sometimes mark the administration from office) may be effected without it, and will be, under of an opinionated, self-willed Executive, they may be so the administration of an Executive disposed faithfully and executed as to make them intolerable. Pope was full bull impartially to do his duty.
right when he said I admit, therefore, that this House may properly exer
For forms of Government, let fools contest; cise a sound discretion, and consider the magnitude of the
That which is best administered, is best. offence, the frequency of its commission, the importance And I am sure, if he lived at this period, and in this counof the class of officers in connexion with whose duties it try, he would see an illustration of the sentiment, quite as has been committed, the conséquences of its becoming striking as any which the history of his own country had common, and the necessity of making an example. But, ever exhibited. Contemplate, sir, for a moment, the num. above all, will they consider the existing impracticability ber and distribution of the various kinds and grades of of correcting abuses, and preventing a system of gross officers engaged in the execution of your laws. Their maladministration without the interposition of the impeach- whole number, exclusive of the army and navy lists, and the ing power. All of these considerations urge upon this diplomatic and other agents in foreign countries, exceeds House the necessity of exercising that power, but espe- eleven thousand; and they are scattered throughout every cially the last.
division and subdivision of this widely extended country: Regarded in any light, the offence with which the col It is here that the Government is brought home to the lector stands charged, is a “high misdemeanor," compre. business and bosoms of the people. And how much fraud, hending the double offence of a violation of his official injustice, oppression, and cruelty, may they not thus be oath, and a solicitation to the crime of perjury. And these made to feel? Shall we talk of the expense which may be oaths, thus trifled with, it should be remembered, are cus involved in an attempt to purify this branch of the administom-house oaths; a class of oaths, on the faithful observ-tration of the Government? Sir, the people hold no such ance of which are suspended the entire operations of your language as this. They want a good Government, and whole revenue system--a system which brings into your they are able to support it. treasury, annually, about $23,000,000, through the agency I come now to the main proposition, that we bave no of more than fifteen hundred officers.
reason to expect that the offending officer, in this case, It is not my purpose to enter minutely into this branch will be removed, or that abuses, generally, will be com of the inquiry; or into any, except the last, of the general rected, without the interposition of the power of this considerations which I have suggested. I will barely re- House. But the gentleman from Maine (Mr. JARTIS mark upon the importance of the object contemplated in says the Secretary of the Treasury will do his duty; and the requirement of the oath, the false taking of which has proceeds, with how much justice, it is not necessary now been solicited in the case before lis. To the collector of to inquire, to pronounce a high-wrought eulogy on that the customs, as I have before suggested, is committed the officer. But, sir, who appointed the collector at Wiscasappointment, in the first instance, of all his subordinates. set? The President. To the President then, and to the The temptation to sell these offices, for the purpose of gain President alone, belongs the power of making the remoto the collector, was too obvious to escape the attention of val. Will he do his duty? Thi the real question. Congress; and it was to prevent this, that the sixteenth sec It may be said, indeed, that the Secretary of the Treation of the law of 1822, which I have before cited, was enact- sury is one of his constitutional advisers. I know he is. ed. The safeguard interposed by that law was the oath of But who are his advisers, in fact? Sir, who does not
Mar 5, 1832.)
[H. OF R.
know that more than half the constitutional period of his be diminished with safety to the public interest.” The administration has been marked with an entire departure committee, not satisfied with these answers, proceeded to from the established practice of his predecessors from the say, “it was impossible for the committee to ascertain by foundation of the Government, of connecting the Execu- their own examination” the facts necessary to enable them tive action with free and stated cabinet consultations? Who to propose “any specific reduction of the number of clerks does not know that he has been surrounded by an irre. in the several offices,” that “without the cordial aid of sponsible cabinet, moved by single master spirit; and the Executive, no effect scheme of retrenchment can that he has been guided, especially in the great business of be instituted,” but that they had “obtained information “reform,” by its star-chamber decisions?
enough to satisfy them that, by a judicious system of reIn the remarks I am now about to make, I must speak form, instituted by the executive officers themselves, at plainly of the men in power. I feel, indeed, incapable of least one-third of the present number of clerks in the despeaking otherwise. I am, moreover, the representative partments might be reduced, with safety to the public inof a plain, straightforward people; and it shall be my pur- terest.” “We believe (say the committee) that there are, pose fairly and justly to represent them. They expect in fact, a corps of invalid pensioners attached to some of ihat I will not shrink from my duty, through fear or favor these offices; and just in proportion to their increasing disof any man; and that expectation, sir, shall not be disap- ability to discharge their duties, is an increased necessity pointed. The time has come when it is no longer the for the appointment of new clerks. We also think that, duty of the representatives of the people to speak “in pa- by a new distribution of office hours, there would be an rables." The truth, and the whole truth, should be plain- addition of at least one-third of the amount of labor actuly and faithfully told, strike where it will. But, in per- ally performed, which, in itself, would involve a reduction forming, to the extent of my humble ability, this duty, I am of one-third of the number of clerks employed.” far from desiring to inflict a wound on the feelings of any Thus, it will be seen that the positions taken by the man: and if, in the progress of this discussion, there should committee would, if reduced to practice, as it was assumbe any appearance of severity, I beg permission to say, cd they would be under the promised reform of General once for all, that it will be dictated by no spirit of personal Jackson, effect a reduction of more than one-half in the hostility towards any one, and shall be permitted no fur- number of clerks in the Executive Departments! ther than may be necessary, either in my own defence, or The committee also advert to the complicated forms of in the exposure which I may deem it my duty to make of doing business in the accounting offices, and suggest that, the misconduct of this administration.
“if those forms were simplified,” as they easily might be, I have, then, in the first place, no confidence that the “one-fourth, if not one-third, of the offices in the TreasuExecutive will do his duty, because he has violated the ry might be reduced;" but that, “even with the existing pledges on which he was brought into and with tedious forms of transacting business, there are more clerks which he commenced his administration.
than would be required, if the labor of the offices was Scarce any thing so much impairs our confidence in more equally distributed;" and that “the Second Compmen, as inconsistency. So strong and deeply seated is this troller's office, and that of one of the Auditors," ought to feeling, that we involuntarily respect the man who is con- be « abolished.” sistent, even in error. Inconsistency evinces either weak All this reform (and I beg that its particulars may be reness or wickedness; and both are alike fatal to a just and membered) was to be effected when General Jackson proper administration of the Government.
should come into possession of the Executive Departments, The present Chief Magistrate was brought into power so as to give his "cordial aid” in the accomplishment of upon the profession and pledge of retrenchment and eco- the good work. nomy. He was to become the great agent of reform, and The report, of which I have spoken, was made in May, was to restore the Government to its original simplicity 1828. It was followed up by a resolution, reported to the and purity. These professions and pledges are summed House of Representatives by Mr. Hamilton, the author of up in the celebrated report on retrenchment made to this the retrenchment report, on the 27th of February, 1829, House in May, 1828. You will remember, sir, the circum- one week before General Jackson's inauguration. It is as stances under which that report was made; the extraordi- follows: nary efforts to give it the widest possible circulation “ Resolved, That this House has a right to expect that throughout the country; the extent of the clamor which the Executive will submit to Congress, at its next session, was thereby raised, with regard to the supposed extrava- a comprehensive scheme of retrenchment, which shall exgance of the late administration; and the powerful im- tend to the lopping off of all useless offices, and of securpulse given to it by the fact that the head of that adminis- ing a more effective accountability in those which are retration had resided long at the various courts of Europe, tained.” where the people were made to believe he had contracted This resolution was immediately followed by the inaugunotions inconsistent with the simplicity and economy of ral address of the President, in which he renews the oft our republican institutions, all of which was powerfully repeated pledges, by telling the nation that "the recent aided by the “east room” story, and other kindred fabri- demonstration of public sentiment had inscribed on the list cations. But to the report.
of Executive duties, in characters too legible to be overThe committee were charged with the duty of inquiring looked, the task of reform.” of this inaugural, it is my what reductions could be made in the number and salaries purpose to speak more particularly hereafter. With these of the officers and clerks in the State, Treasury, War, Navy, pledges, the present administration commenced its career. and Post Office Departments, and to examine the several Let us now see what it has done to redeem them. contingent funds of each, and report the amount and objects Three years have elapsed since General Jackson took for which disbursements had been made from those funds. possession of the Executive Departments of the Govern
They began their report, by saying that they had ad- ment in this city. The public were immediately told that dressed “a letter to each of the heads of the Executive he visited the public offices for the purpose of detecting Departments, calling for information as to the reductions abuses, and putting every thing in order; and the idea was which might be made, without injury to the public ser- carefully kept up throughout the country, that the promivice, in the number and salaries of the clerks and officers ses of retrenchment were to be amply fulfilled, in a comin their respective departments, and the contingent ex- plete and thorough reorganization of the departments, and penses of the same,” from all of whom they received an “the lopping off of all useless offices.” swers, stating “thať neither the number nor salaries of In this state of things, with the expectations of the counthe officers and clerks in their respective offices can try thus excited, the President sends his first message to