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character is invested, the more imperious the nelcessity of a rigid scrutiny. When the station to be filled is the highest in your power to bestout, the duty becomes a sacred one ; and you become traitors to yourselves not to discharge it. It is cri minal in a man to play the tyrant; but that crime is of the de pest hue which a free people perpetrate by neglecting the means for the preservation of their liberties. The tyrant is hurried on by the fury of his passions; while the people have no inducement under Heaven to abandon their duty. The first may influence the period in which he lives : while the last too often decides for ages the destiny of a nation.
You are called on once in four years to elect your chief magistrate. In the discharge of this duty, at the last period, you raised to that high station a citizen distinguished for the various services rendered to his country. Of manners simple, affable
and winning, and with an understanding penetrate ing and perspicacious, he had long commanded in the wide circle of his friends a respeći softened by afie Stion. Even his enemies, notwithstanding their
disii ke of his politịcal opinions and actions, acknowledge d their love for the mer. Enured from infancy to the active scenes or iitė, and called by the exigen cies of the revolution to a vigorous participation in its toils he had,: notwithstanding, found time to pursue the early bias:of a mind attached to philosophical pursuits, and from the action of a sound ju. Igment upon a large stock of acquired materials, had gained a
had gained a reputation in the literary world.
It is not surprising, therefore, that we find him in the legislature of his own state, then the widest field of action presented by the state of the country, animated by the honest enthusiasm of youth, transcending the dull routine of duty, and laying the
foundations of future greatness and prosperity by devising and recommenling plans of
general utility. Three vast objects appear to have engaged his patriotic efforts ; education, religious toleration, and the reform of the criminal code. Like other philanthropists he but in part succeeded. He obtained something to be done to advance the interests of learning; and he lost only by the casting vote of the Speaker a law for mitigating the penal code. On the interesting point of religion his victory was complete ; and every man was guaranteed the free exercise of his conscience and re. ligious opinion. But, however imperfect the success of his plans, he sewed seeds in a soil far from incongenial, which have since rewar-led all his efforts. He has the satisfaction of behclding the ci. tizens of his native state enjoying every blessing that religious and civil liberty can bestow; sustaining their state institutions with ability, and transfusing their virtues into the several departments of the general government.
Such is the man, whom, four years ago, you called to the head of your affairs. You esteemed him then wise and virtuous; else you would not have placed him at the very altar of your rights.
He was then, however, untried in the discharge of the duties of the first magistracy of a free people; and with all his virtues and talents, he was Iiable to disappoint the hopes of his country. Has he disappointed these hopes? This is the object of the present enquiry. If he has, it is your duty, whatever pain it may give you, to consign him to the walks of private life.
In order to decide this enquiry, it is necessary to state the duties of a chief magistrate, and to compare with them the measures of Thomas Jefferson.
The duties of the President of the United States are, fortunately for the preservation of our liber
ties, fixed by a written Constitution. In every other nation on the face of the earth they are but vaguely defined by a dark and shifting prescription, varying with the temper of the times, and the character and views of ihose who administer the government. Under such systems, if they deserve the name, executive power advances with a step as steady as time, towards its own aggrandisement. By the co-operating influence of force and patronage it gradually saps every mound raised against its encroachment. Accordingly under such governments, liberty is but a shadow, dependent entirely on the sun shine of royal favor. To guard against this great evil, this gravitating principle of political institutions, the constitution of the United States has wisely laid down certain rules so plain that every mind can determine how far they have been observed. Let us, then, on this occasion, resort to them as our unerring guides.
The constitutional duties and powers of the President are :
1. To give to congress, from time to time, information of the state of the union, and to recom. mend, to their consideration, such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.
2. To pass a qualified veto upon the laws.
3. To command in chief the army and navy ; and the militia, when in actual service.
4. To appoint all executive and judicial offices, except of a subordinate nature.
5. To make treaties.
6. To ke care that the laws be faithfully exe- . cuted.
And to secure the execution of these duties, and such others as are imposed by the Constitution, he is required to take the following oath of office.
“ I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, pro. tect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
The first duty is two fold.... The President“shall from time to time, give to the Congress information of the state of the union.... and recommend to their consideration, such measures as he shall judge ne. cessary and expedient.”
It must not escape notice that both these duties are mandatory ; the term used is “ shall;"....it does not, therefore, rest in the discretion of the Chief Magistrate, to give information or advice, according to any theory of government established in his own mind; but he shall give information, and he shall recommend such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient. For one, I do not hesi- . tate to say that I consider the absolute injunction of this duty, so far as it relates to the recommen, dation of measures, a defect in the Constitution.... It tends unnecessarily to blend legislative and executive power ; to give the executive a dangerous agency in the enaction of laws; and to diminish the free will and unprejudiced deliberations of the legislature. But these considerations, however powerful on the mind of the framers of our Consti. tution, are divested of all their influence when applied to the Magistrate, on whom its execution is devolved. What would be a virtue in the one case, becomes a crime in the other.
The information required by the Constitution has been supplied by the President in a liberal stream. It may confidently be affirmed that the mass laid before Congress during the last four years has not been exceeded, either in interest or magnitude by that furnished during any antecedent equal period. Whatever relates to the interior concernshas, in every instance where its importance justified it, been exposed; and the mysterious obscurity, in which diplomatic relations are usually involved, has been happily dissipated in an eminent degree. The wishes of the legislature and of the people have, in most instances, been anticipated, and in no case, as under preceding administrations, has a veto been passed upon legislative requisitions. In some few cases, it is true, complaints have been made that the public were not duly informed of passing or impending events; but in all these cases, it has afterwards manifestly appeared that the government had withheld no information, whose communication would not have done more injury than good.
It is, perhaps, to be regretted that there is no re. gular official journal published of executive acis. Were such a journal published, at periods however remote from the occurrences recorded, it would ul. timately afford more correct means of judging of the conduct of the cabinet, and thereby produce a more rigorous responsibility to public opinion, than at present exist. But until provision is made for this, we must expect, from the nature of executive acts, some degree of obscurity to envelope the grounds on which they were taken.
Considering the peculiar circumstances, under which the present Chief Magistrate came into office, the people had a right to expect from him a full and habitual disclosure of his measures, and the motives which dictated them, so far as either could tend to promote the public good. An omission by his predecessor, to make such a disclosure, was one of the grounds on which he was ejected from power, and the belief that Mr. Jefferson would evince a contrary course unquestionably conspired with other expectations, to insure his election.
The responsibility of all public men to public opinion is an essential feature of the republice in creed, and it is manifest, that all responsibility, to ja