« AnteriorContinuar »
Apnil 28, 1836.]
the grants, but to the circumstances and purposes for which they were made. The United States were carrying on a war, and had become deeply involved in debt; they had the civil and military expenses of a Government to meet, whilst they were destitute of revenue, and had no power to raise one dollar, either by direct or indirect taxation. Their only reliance under the confederation was upon requisitions on the States. Some of the States possessed extensive tracts of waste lands, whilst others possessed none; and the latter contended that these lands ought to be ceded to the confederation, for the security of the public creditors, and as a common fund for the benefit of the Union. Maryland and Rhode Island had refused to join in the confederation on the ground of this complaint. The Congress had repeatedly urged the States to cede their lands to the confederacy, and in October, 1780, adopted a resolution of which the following is an extract: “Resolved, That the unappropriated lands that may be ceded or relinquished to the United States by any particular State, pursuant to the recommendation of Congress of the 6th of September last, shall be disposed of for the common benefit of the United States, and be settled and formed into distinct republican States, which shall become members of the federal Union, and have the same rights of sovereignty, freedom, and independence, as the other States; “That the said lands shall be granted or settled at such times, and under such regulations, as shall hereafter be agreed on by the United States in Congress assembled, or any nine or more of them.” The grants of the several States were made in pursuance of this resolution of Congress, and all refer to it; and this resolution shows what was the intention and object of Congress. It proves that the Congress had two objects in view in obtaining the cessions from the States: one to promote the settlement of the territory and the formation of States to be admitted into the Union; the other, the disposal of the lands for the common benefit of the United States; not sor the common benefit of the several States, or the States in their separate and sovereign capacity, but for the benefit of the whole in their confederate capacity. In pursuance of the aforesaid resolution of Congress, the State of New York passed an act authorizing the cession of its lands. The following extract from the preamble explains the object: “Whereas nothing under Divine Providence can more effectually contribute to the tranquillity and safety of the United States of America than a federal alliance on such liberal principles as will give satisfaction to its respective members; and whereas the articles of confederation and perpetual union, recommended by the honorable Congress of the United States of America, have not proved acceptable to all the States, it having been conceived that a portion of the waste and uncultivated territory within the limits or claims of certain States ought to be appropriated as a common fund for the expenses of the war; and the people of the State of New York being, on all occasions, disposed to manifest their regard for their sister States, and their earnest desire to promote the general interest and security, and more especially to accelerate the federal alliance, by removing, as far as it depends upon them, the beforementioned impediment to its final accomplishment.” Here it is expressly stated that the object of the cession was to appropriate the lands as a common fund for the expenses of the war, which is wholly incompatible with the idea that they were to be a common fund to be divided among the States, or for the benefit of the States, in their several capacities. The act of cession of Virginia provides “that all the lands within the territory so ceded to the United States
shall be considered as a common fund for the use and benefit of such of the United States as have become, or shall become, members of the confederation or federal alliance of the said States, Virginia inclusive, according to their respective proportions in the general charge and expenditure, and shall be faithfully and bona fide disposed of for that purpose, and for no other use or purpose whatsoever.” The act of cession of Massachusetts provides that the lands were to be “ceded or relinquished to the United States, to be disposed of for the common benefit of the same, agreeably to the resolve of Congress of October 10, 1780.” Connecticut “released and ceded her right of jurisdiction and soil to the country one hundred and twenty miles west of the western boundary of Pennsylvania, to the United States in Congress, for the common use and benefit of said States, Connecticut included.” The cession of Georgia provides “that the lands conveyed shall be considered as a common fund for the use and benefit of the United States, Georgia included, and shall be faithfully disposed of for that purpose, and for no other use or purpose whatsoever.” Whether, therefore, we regard the situation of the States at the time, and the object of the cessions, as apparent from the circumstances under which they were made, or the language of the acts of cession, it appears perfectly clear that those lands, so far as the right of property was concerned, were vested in the United States, or such of them as had joined the confederacy, and were to constitute a common fund, for the benefit of such States, in their federative capacity, and not in their separate capacity, as independent sovereignties. The States were to share in this fund, in proportion to the general charge of expenditure, as apportioned by Congress among the States. So far as the expenses of the confederacy could be defrayed from the proceeds of these lands, the requisitions upon the States were to that extent diminished, and in the same proportion as the States were assessed. But the rule of apportionment adopted in this billis entirely different from that prescribed in the grant of Virginia. The bill assumes as a rule the federal population, which is a principle of political power, compounded of free and slave population. The rule adopted by Virginia was that of the general charge and expenditure as established by the articles of confederation, which provided “That all charges of war, and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common defence or general welfare, and allowed by the United States in Congress assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common Treasury, which shall be supplied by the several States, in proportion to the value of all land within each State, granted to or surveyed for any person, as such land, and the buildings and improvements thereon, shall be estimated according to such modes as the United States in Congress assembled shall from time to time direct and appoint.” If there was any authority for a division of the proceeds of the lands among the States, this bill has departed from the rule laid down in the cession of Virginia, and assumed a principle, then wholly unknown. The language of the Virginia grant is very strong and guarded; and it not only provides that the lands shall be a common fund for the United States, but adds that “they shall be faithfully and bona fide disposed of for that purpose, and for no other use or purpose whatsoever.” They were not to be disposed of for the benefit of the several States, but for that of the United States, or the confederacy, which, under the confederation, was regarded as the general Government, with heavy charges upon it, and then carrying on a war. , According to the express terms of the Virginia and Georgia grants, this fund could be applied to no other purpose whatsoever than the benefit of the confederacy. The intention of the grants was to provide a fund for the SENATE.]
confederacy, not for the States, which, possessing the power of taxation, could provide for themseives. It has been contended that the clause “Virginia inclusive,” proves that the fund was held in trust for the States; but there is no just foundation for this argument, as that clause was evidently inserted only srom abundant caution, to secure to the granting States their share in the benefits of the fund, when applied to the purposes of the confederacy, and which would diminish the requisitions to be made upon the States. These cessions were confirmed by the constitution, with their conditions. The Senator from Tennessee [Mr. White] has referred to the opinions of the President as to the power of Congress, expressed in his annual message in 1830, regarding a division of the surplus revenue among the States. But the President then suggests doubts as to the power of Congress; and in his veto message he says: “The constitution of the United States did not delegate to Congress the power to abrogate these compacts. On the contrary, by declaring that nothing in it shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular State, it virtually provides that these compacts, and the rights they secure, shall remain untouched by the legislative power, which shall only “make all needful rules and regulations” for carrying them into effect. All beyond this would seem to be an assumption of undelegated power. These ancient compacts are invaluable monuments of an age of virtue, patriotism, and disinterestedness. They exhibit the price that great States, which had won liberty, were willing to pay for that union, without which, they plainly saw, it could not be preserved. Considering these lands as vested in the United States, and appropriated to the uses and purposes of the Union, by the original grants, and which were confirmed in the formation of the present system of government, will it not be inconsistent with the grants to divide the fund arising from the sale of them among the States? The federal Government possesses two means of raising a revenue, both of which were derived from the States. The first is the public lands or domain; the second, the power of levying and collecting taxes, both direct and indirect. The power of levying taxes, like all other powers of this Government, is specific and limited; it is in its very terms confined to the purposes of the Union: to paying the debts and providing for the common defence and general welfare of the United States... And if the language of that particular grant was not so limited, it could receive no greater extension, as that would be incompatible with the theory and structure of the Government. The Government of the Union was established for certain specific purposes and objects, defined in the grant of its powers; and the power to levy and collect taxes must be co-extensive with those purposes, and can extend no further. To maintain that Congress can raise a revenue for purposes beyond the sphere of its action, is a most preposterous and alarming proposition. If you step one inch beyond that boundary, there is no limit to the taxing power; and it might be so exercised as to annihilate the States. Considering the taxing power as confined to purposes distinctly federal, it cannot be exercised, even for those purposes, except in connexion with the other source of revenue—that derived from the public lands. They were both conferred by the States on the Union, and for the same purposes; and the taxing power cannot be rightfully resorted to, except to supply the deficiency there may be in the revenue derived from the sales of the public lands. To dispose of the revenue accruing from the sales of the public lands upon objects not federal, not within the action of this Government, and then supply the deficiency by taxes, would be a most palpable abuse of the taxing power,
The power of taxation excited more alarm and occasioned a more determined resistance than any other in the constitution; it was the point against which that distinguished champion of popular rights, Patrick Henry, directed his powerful eloquence. This bill will withdraw one entire branch of the public revenue, and of course throw all the expenses of this Government on to the other. It is true it is limited to five years, but the principle leads to this result; and, when once adopted, it will be acted on from time to time. The great champion of this measure admits that this will probably be the case, and says it is the greatest recommendation of the bill. Why shall this Government tax the people to raise money to distribute among the States? Will the people or the States be benefited by this operation? And what will be its influence on our institutions and the relations between the States and the Union? Would not such a principle reverse the order of things, and change the very system of the Government? The States possess the primary taxing power; they have conferred on this Government a special, limited power of taxation, for certain specific purposes, enumerated in the constitution. But if Congress shall raise taxes not only for the purposes of this Government, but also for those of the States, it will engross the entire taxing power reserved to the States. What would be the inevitable effect of such a principle upon the States? Would it not be a fatal blow to their independence? would it not have a more direct tendency towards consolidation than any other, or all other measures ever yet adopted? Would it not accustom the States to depend on this Government for their revenues, and even for their ordinary expenditures? And is it supposed that one community can be dependant on another for its expenditures, without gradually losing its independence and sinking into degradation? It is impossible. Would not the influence of this measure be the most pernicious and corrupting in the Legislatures of the States, and even on public sentiment among the people? This scheme of distribution is already pressed into the service of electioneering, and has been so used during the late election in the State I have the honor, in part, to represent. The people have thus far resisted its seductive influence, and maintained their integrity: how long they may be able to do it, remains to be known. The suggestions of the President, in his veto message, in regard to the effect of this distribution scheme on the interests, the political rights, and the independence of the States, are deserving the most profound consideration. I will call the attention of the Senate to some parts of this message. “It appears to me that a more direct road to consolidation cannot be devised. Money is power, and in that Government which pays all the public officers of the States will all political power be substantially concentrated. The State Governments, if Governments they might be called, would lose all their independence and dignity. The economy which now distinguishes them, would be converted into a profusion limited only by the extent of the supply. “Being the dependants of the general Government, and looking to its Treasury as the source of all their emoluments, the State officers, under whatever names they might pass, and by whatever forms their duties might be prescribed, would, in effect, be the mere stipendiaries and instruments of the central power. “I am quite sure the intelligent people of our several States will be satisfied, on a little reflection, that it is neither wise nor safe to release the members of their local Legislatures from the responsibility of levying the taxes necessary to support their State Governments, and west it in Congress, over most of whose members they Apnil 28, 1836.]
have no control. They will not think it expedient that Congress shall be the tax-gatherer and paymaster of their State Governments, and thus amalgamate all their officers into one mass of common interest and common feeling. It is too obvious that such a course would subvert our well-balanced system of government, and ultimately deprive us of all the blessings now derived from our happy Union. “It is difficult to perceive what advantages would accrue to the old States or the new, from the system of distribution which this bill proposes, if it was otherwise unobjectionable. It requires no argument to prove that if three millions of dollars a year, or any other sum, shall be taken out of the Treasury by this bill for distribution, it must be replaced by the same sum collected from the people through some other means. The old States will receive annually a sum of money from the Treasury, but they will pay in a large sum, together with the expenses of collection and distribution. It is only their proportion of seven-eighths of the proceeds of the sales which they are to receive, but they must pay their due proportion of the whole. Disguise it as we may, the bill proposes to them a dead loss in the ratio of eight to seven, in addition to expenses and other incidental losses. This assertion is not the less true, because it may not at first be palpable. Their receipts will be in large sums, but their payments in small ones. The Governments of the States will receive seven dollars, for which the people of the States will pay eight. But a little considera. tion will satisfy the people that the effect is the same as if seven hundred dollars were given them from the Treasury, for which they were at the same time to pay eight hundred.” In what situation will this distributing scheme place the two Houses of Congress? Will not its pernicious influence be felt in our entire legislation? Ought those who are intrusted with the high and responsible duties of making laws for the whole Union, and guarding and protecting the rigits and interest of the whole country, to be placed in such a situation, that the local interests of their respective States are brought into direct conflict with those of the Union? If the principle of distribution is once established, and the States are taught to look to this Government for their revenue, will not the members of Congress be instructed to oppose all important measures calculated to diminish the general fund which they wish to distribute annong the States? The interests of their immediate constituents must have a controlling influence on the minds of members, and the most zealous efforts to increase the fund for distribution would be regarded as the surest way to acquire local popularity. Every important measure for the defence of the country, or any other important object, would have to encounter this corrupting influence. This is really an agrarian law, as it virtually provides for a division of the public lands, not among the people, but among the States, where the scramble for a further distribution or division of it will be renewed. And will not this occasion all the evils and contentions which attended that species of legislation in ancient Rome? And so far as it might accustom the people of the States to look up to this central Government for money, would it not in some degree have the same pernicious influence as the laws of that ancient republic, which distributed corn among the people from the public granaries, and thus paralyzed their industry, destroyed their independence, corrupted their morals, and worked a change in the political institutions of the country? The inglorious author of those laws has transmitted his name to remote posterity, only to be despised for weakness and political profligacy. Mr. President, I must apologize for having detained the Senate so long, and will close with one more observation. The honorable Senator fron Kentucky Mr.
CLAx] remarked that this was peculiarly a beneficent measure to the whole Union. A beneficent measure truly; which, disguise it as you may, is nothing more nor less than an artful scheme of raising money from the people by indirect taxation, to return to them again—no, not to return it to the people from whose pockets it has been taken, but to give it to their public agents. A beneficent measure, which bears upon its very face a concealed fraud; for whilst it purports to be an act of grace and bounty, it is, in fact and truth, only an attempt to buy up the people with their own money. When Mr. NILEs had concluded, Mr. BENTON observed that, in reading over the bill that morning, as engrossed, he found that the amendments made yesterday to the second section, defining what the nett proceeds of the sales of the public lands were, did not apply to the third section, where the same amendments were equally, necessary. He, therefore, moved to recommit the bill, for the purpose of having it amended in that particular. At the same time that he made this motion, he would inform the Senate that there were four gentlemen, including himself, desirous of being heard in opposition to the bill; the manner in which it had been carried through yesterday having prevented them from addressing the Senate on it. If the Senate refused the motion, these gentlemen were determined to speak to-day; and he, for, one, would speak, if the sun rose and set on their session. . . He did not mean to let this bill go off without making his sentiments with regard to it known to the American peo: ple. If the recommitment were ordered, the bill would be reported to-morrow, and gentlemen would have an opportunity of then being heard on it; otherwise, they must speak to-day. Mr. Ewing hoped the motion to recommit would not prevail, as the proposed amendment was altogether unnecessary. The designation in the second section of the current items of expenses to be deducted from the sales of the year would be sufficient information to the Department as to what Congress meant by the nett proceeds of the sales of the public lands; and by it they would know the principles on which they were to make up the accounts. Mr. MORRIS had discovered, on reading the bill, the same objections to it that had been mentioned by the Senator from Missouri; but, being altogether opposed to the bill in principle, he did not think it necessary to refer to them. He had very little concern with the details of the bill, and thought that those gentlemen who, like him, were opposed to it in principle, need not care for them. He should, however, be pleased if the motion of the Senator from Missouri prevailed, in order that those gentlemen who intended to address the Senate might have an opportunity of examining it, as it was now very different from the printed bill as it came from the committee. It was with great reluctance that he ever intruded on the time of the Senate, but he was so situated that he was compelled to address them on this occasion; indeed, he could not refrain from doing so, without violating what he considered to be an imperious sense of duty. How long it would take him to express his sentiments on this subject, he could not say—probably not long; and he hoped the Senate would indulge him as well as other gentlemen by a postponement. There had been no hurrying of this bill until the last evening, and he did not see any necessity for passing it that eve: ning. If the objections of the Senator from Missouri had any weight, the bill ought to be recommitted; and he would suggest to its friends whether it would not be better to make it so plain that nothing should be left to inference in the Departments. The question was here taken on Mr. Beston's motion, and it was rejected.
Mr. MORRIS then moved that the Senate adjourn. This motion was decided in the negative: Yeas 20, nays 24, as follows: YEAs--Messrs. Benton, Brown, Cuthbert, Ewing of Illinois, Grundy, Hill, Hubbard, King of Alabama, King of Georgia, Linn, Morris, Nicholas, Niles, Rives, Robinson, Ruggles, Shepley, Tallmadge, Walker, Wright——20. NAys--Messrs. Black, Calhoun, Clay, Clayton, Crittenden, Davis, Ewing of Ohio, Goldsborough, Hendricks, Kent, Knight, Leigh, McKean, Mangum, Moore, Naudain, Porter, Prentiss, Robbins, Southard, Swist, Tomlinson, Webster, White--24. Mr. PORTER then observed, that he would make a compromise with gentlemen opposed to the bill. If they would agree that the final question should be taken to-morrow, he would move to adjourn, and he hoped his friends on his side of the House would agree to it. He did not wish to compel gentlemen to speak at that late hour, and his friend srom Missouri, as well as every member of the Senate, must see that the delaying of this bill delayed other important business which was suffering by the delay. He, for one, was determined that this bill should have precedence of all others. Mr. BENTON said he fully appreciated the sentiments expressed by the Senator from Louisiana, but he could make no compromise. He was determined to speak on that bill before it passed. Mr. MORRIS said he would much prefer addressing the Senate to-morrow than at that late hour. His address would not probably occupy a long time, and, if the Senate would agree to adjourn, he would agree that the final question should be taken to-morrow. On motion of Mr. PORTER, The Senate then adjourned.
FRIDAY, Arni L 29.
Mr. BENTON submitted the following resolution, which was considered and adopted: Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to cause the Senate to be informed whether any branch of the public service has suffered, or is likely to suffer, any injury, loss, neglect, or delay, for want of timely and adequate appropriations. Mr. WEBSTER rose to move a reconsideration of the vote on agreeing to the resolution just submitted by Mr. BEN to N. It was an extraordinary resolution, he said, and ought to take the usual course of lying on the table one day. Had he been in his seat when the vote was taken, he should have opposed its consideration at that time. Mr. BENTON said he was willing to have the vote reconsidered, and for the resolution to lie one day. It was, he admitted, an extraordinary resolution, but it was introduced on an extraordinary occasion. Here they were voting money to distribute among the States, while they refuse to appropriate money for the expenditures of the Government, though it was known that the public service was suffering. Mr. WEBSTER said that he only wanted the resolution to take the usual course. The vote on adopting the resolution was then reconsidered, and the resolution lies on the table one day.
On motion of Mr. KING, of Alabama, the bill to provide for the payment of a regiment of Vermont militia, who served at the battle of Plattsburgh, was taken up. The bill (Mr. K. said) had, in the absence of some necessary information, which he believed was now in the possession of the Senator from Vermont, been laid
on the table on his (Mr. K's) motion, and it was for that reason that he moved to take it up. The bill was then taken up, and considered as in Committee of the Whole, and, after some remarks from Messrs. PRENTISS and GOLDSBOROUGH in its support, and from Mr. KING, of Alabama, in opposition to it, on the ground that the evidence was not sufficient, the bill was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading.
The Senate proceeded to the question of the passage of the bill to appropriate, for a limited time, the proceeds of the public lands, &c.; when Mr. MORRIS rose and addressed the Chair as follows: Mr. President, it is with extreme reluctance that I rise to address the Senate on the present occasion, though somewhat used to legislative debates; yet, in this body, could I suffer my own feelings to be my guide, I should remain a silent listener, and be content with that vote which my judgment should dictate, rather than mingle in debate on this or any other question. But there are circumstances under which individual feeling must give way to duty; and individual judgment must be governed by the calls of public opinion, and when silence is no longer commendable, but is in fact a fault. Under these circumstances I find myself now placed. The bill under consideration is of an important character; it deeply affects not only the interest of the western country, but the United States generally. "I'lic Senators from Öhio have different views on this subject; and as one of them has had the opportunity, as chairman of the Land Committee, to express his views in a report, on the introduction of this bill, it seems to require of the other a duty with which he cannot dispense, and which he will now attempt to discharge. Before, however, I proceed to the examination of the principles of the bill, and the report upon which it is founded, I feel constrained to give a passing notice to some topics that have been introduced into this discussion. Like most others that have gone before, it has not been permitted to pass without some severe animadversions and strictures upon the course pursued by the present administration. And to alarm the country, and to hide the real deformity of this measure from the public view, it has been attempted to be shown that the public money in the deposite banks is unsafe, and, if not speedily drawn from those institutions, will be entirely lost to the country; and, as connected with this question, the safety and necessity of a United States Bank has again been urged on the Aincrican people. I will not attempt to examine the assertions on these points. They have been so often met and refuted, that i will only say that I am entirely satisfied that they have no foundation in reality on which to rest. Connected, however, with this subject, there has been another charge made of a more grave and serious nature, and that, too, from a quarter which is calculated to give it force and effect in the country, and which, if true, would be just cause of fear for the safety and perpetuity of our institutions. It has been said, and that with a boldness that seemed to bid defiance, that there was a constant propensity and apparent determination, on the part of the friends of the administration, to increase the power of the Executive, and to decrease and bring into disrepute the legislative power; and this is attributed to that undue influence which, in the fancy of gentlemen, Geil: eral Jackson is said to have, not only over members of this body, but over the country generally. That General Jackson is a popular President, I freely admit; that he is deservedly so, I prove by the united voice of the great body of the American people; but that he has any of that servile class of friends who surrender their own judgment in obedience to his wish, I Aparl 29, 1836.]
am not disposed to believe; and while gentlemen complain in such strong terms of his withering popularity, as they call it, it would be well for them to examine why it is so, and ascertain the true principle upon which it rests. The people of this country sustain General Jackson, not because his word is a law to them, but because the public will is the law that governs his action. It will be remembered that during the administration of Mr. Monroe, and under the auspices of the Bank of the United States, there had been a constant tendency in the proceedings of Congress to build up systems and forms of government unknown to the constitution. The American system, claiming within itself an undefined and undefinable power, began to develop its objects under the next administration; it had brought that administration into power, against the known wishes and opinions of the American people. The whole doctrine of intermal improvement, protecting tariffs, and, in fact, the whole domestic industry of the country, was claimed by Congress to be within its constitutional power; and the doctrine was openly avowed, that the representative should not suffer himself to be palsied by the will of his constituents. These alarming encroachments upon the constitutional rights of the people convinced them of the necessity of a change of measures, which was begun during the latter term of Mr. Monroe’s administration; and General Jackson was looked to as a successor, not on account only of the military glory he had acquired at New Orleans, but for the firm integrity and disinterested patriotism he had displayed in every situation in which he had been placed, and his well known and inflexible republican principles. There was no local influence or personal feeling connected with his circumstances that would prevent him from being (what in fact he is) the second father of his country; and the people brought him into power by a most triumphant majority, for the express purpose that his administration might break down these newly created systems; and he has not disappointed their just expectations, but has faithfully, as far as in him lay, carried out those principles that brought him into power. This, sir, is the whole secret of his popularity; and though a combination of money, talent, and influence, before unknown in this country, has constantly assailed his administration, and, aided by the power of Congress, and in particular this branch, has endeavored to keep alive and preserve those systems, opposition to which brought him into power; yet his firmness in resisting them has been constantly met by increased popularity, and the people bave been compelled to look to General Jackson to save them from the improvident legislation of Congress. I regret that this necessity has been imposed on the country; yet such will be the result until the will of the constituent body is faithfully carried into effect in the halls of legislation. Let gentlemen who occupy seats in Congress, and who complain of the popularity of the President as dangerous, if not ruinous to the country, profit by the example he has set them; let them faithfully represent the public will, and not attempt to build up systems to advance the interests of one portion of the community at the expense of the other; let them carry into operation the power of the people, and no longer endeavor to exercise power over them, and they will be equally popular with the President, and render the exercise of executive power uncalled for in curtailing their acts. It is not the condition of men that renders them honorable or popular in this country, but a faithful discharge of the duties which they undertake to perform. It has been also said in the course of this debate, as matter of alarming tendency, that it is claimed for the President that he is the representative of the people, and that General Jackson has put up such claim in his own behalf, as the single representative of the whole people
of the United States. Whether these assertions be well founded or not, I think it unnecessary to inquire. I have never been alarmed at the cry of danger from Executive power. That power, though extensive in its operations, is held under so many checks and restraints, that I have always viewed it the weakest and least dangerous of the three great powers of this Government. It is, in the first place, an elective power by the whole people for a short period of years; and being intrusted to a single person, it is watched with the most vigilant attention; and the least departure from correct principles is deeply noted in the public mind. It is a power which can originate no measure, but is the agent and subject to the orders of the other great powers of the Government. Being in the hands of one man, he is subject to impeachment by the representatives of the people; and the Senate, with the Chief Justice at its head, are his judges. It would be strange, indeed, if the executive power, thus checked and circumscribed, first by the people, then by the other powers of the Government combined, should ever become dangerous to the liberty of the country. The framers of the constitution have thrown too many guards around it to excite any such fear. I am myself clearly of opinion, that if the liberties of the people of this country are ever destroyed, it will be the act of an American Congress; and the first scene of the grand drama, constituted as the Senate now is, will take place in this body. But, sir, we are told of danger, because it is said that the President is the representative of the American people. And pray, sir, what ought he to be? Ought not each and every branch of this Government to faithfully represent the American people in the discharge of the duties assigned them? I hold they ought. The President ought so to execute the laws as the people would do, could they act collectively on the subjects; in fact, public opinion ought to be the rule of his conduct; and I venture still further, and say that the judges, in the con
struction of laws, ought to be guided by the weight of
public sentiment: it is public virtue and public opinion that sustains, and ought to direct, each and every department of the Government, as well as the collective energies of the whole. An attempt to overturn this principle was made by the introduction of the American system; a branch of that system, the doctrine of internal improvements, was recognised by Congress, but overthrown by the veto of the President. He has been triumphantly sustained by public opinion. The Bank of the United States, another branch of the same system,
has also fallen under the veto power, and a like result has followed. But still gentlemen are not satisfied, or disposed to abandon this hopeless contest. They have,
by the introduction of the bill under consideration,
changed the mode of attack, but not the nature of the
war. Adhering to the doctrine, that by patronage they can acquire popularity, having been foiled in their attempts heretofore to appropriate money to favorite objects and persons, to be expended by the agents of this Government, they are attempting by this bill to bestow money upon the States, by which it is no doubt hoped that the very objects which have heretofore been attempted may be gained in a more covert, insidious, and hidden manner; and that popularity which was to be gained from individuals, is to be transferred to States.
Sir, I predict this last scheme will prove more fatal to its friends than any of the class to which it belongs. It is true we have heard much said in its favor, and both talent and eloquence have been employed in its support; but, for myself, I have heard nothing new in principle, or forcible in argument, that is not contained in the report of the committee on this subject: I have turned my attention to that report, as embodying in the ablest manner all the argument and reason that can be brought