Imagens das páginas

JAN. 3, 1837.]

sentatives of a free people. We stand here as guardians of popular rights, as a co-ordinate and independent branch of this Government; and we are base traitors to our country if we diminish or weaken our rights, if we abandon the proud prerogatives guarantied to us under the constitution we have sworn to defend.

Again, sir; the amendment to this resolution which has been proposed by the gentleman from Rhode Island [Mr. D. J. PEARce] has not excited less surprise and astonishment in my mind than the doctrine I have just adverted to. Mr. P. said he could view that amendment as nothing more than a pretext to shield the perpetrators of fraud against all inquiry and discovery by the people. If (said Mr. P.) I was not mistaken in what that gentleman maintained, I understood him to say that the officers of the Government are agents of the Executive; that they are responsible alone to the Executive; and that he (the Executive) is responsible to the American people, and may be impeached before the Senate by the vote of this House. Such, in substance, was the argument of the gentleman. According to this doctrine, the people, by their representatives, have no control whatever over the officers of the Government; they are independent of the people, distinct from the people, and removed out of our reach and out of our power. But I would have that gentleman to know that we, as well as the officers of the Government, constitute a part of the Government; we, the representatives of the people, create by statutes these offices, and define the duties of the officers; we fix and pay their salaries; they are officers of this House as well as of the Executive himself, created by our authority, and amenable to us for all their conduct. I know that, for the last six or eight years, the contrary doctrine has been inculcated and enforced; this House has only been considered as a part of the Executive, whose only duty was to record the edicts of royalty, or give sanction to its wishes. There can be no more certain evidence of the decay of this republic, than for this House to sleep upon its privileges, and quietly acquiesce under the accumulation of executive power. But, sir, I call upon every gentleman who feels himself to be a freeman, the representative of a free people, not to abandon their proud

prerogative, but to claim the high character and privi

[ocr errors]

lege of this House to know their power, and to have the independence to assert it. Yes, sir, I invoke the spirit of the entombed constitution to preside over and guard the power and the privileges of this House. I am utterly opposed to this modern doctrine, which makes us the mere agents of the Executive, a secondary branch of the Government only! If we are indeed thus prostituted, lost, and humbled; if we have ceased to be what the constitution intended, it is time that we should know it. If we are used merely to play the part of the Rump Parliament, yielding up every thing quietly to the will of the Executive, shielding him and his agents in every act, subserving his ambition, and aiding him and his officers to trample down the consecrated barriers of freedom, and to pursue, unchecked, their lawless career, it is time the world should know the infamy that has fallen upon us! The amendment of the gentleman from Rhode Island [Mr. PEARck] is merely a pretext, made for the purpose of evading a direct vote upon the original resolution; that amendment provides that, if, in the course of events, any cause for a specific charge should exist, then the right of sending for persons and papers shall be given. We do not stand in the situation of a private citizen at issue with a private, citizen; we are not bound to make an affidavit, in order to obtain a search warrant; we are not bound to make specific charges, in order to obtain permission for investigation. Each member acts upon this floor in his offi

Executive Administration.

[H. of R. cial capacity, and is responsible before the country. We are the representatives of the people, and, as the source and chief depository of power, we have the right to demand investigation, without assigning specific charges. We have the right to investigate all the offices and papers, (except, perhaps, those that cannot safely be made public, relating to foreign diplomacy,) and archives of the Government, and of all its agents in every department; and this right is essential to maintain the purity of our Government and of our institutions. “But,” say the supporters of the administration, “why raise a select committee? Why incur this expense?” I answer, is it not better for them to incur this expense than that they should sit under the suspicion of corrupt conduct? If the investigation should bring nothing to light, will it not then have been better for the Government, by having had this opportunity of showing its purity and establishing its character? Will it not look better to suffer this investigation to take place than to let suspicion spread, by suffering charges of such serious character to pass by unmet and unrepelled? Mr. P. said he was not one of those demagogues whose mouths are ever pouring forth declarations of their attachment to the people, but I confess I am democrat enough to proclaim our rights in opposition to the insidious encroachments of Government. I avow that I am for the power and the rights of the people being felt practically in this Government, while those who are always declaiming for those rights seem to come here but to smother and suppress them. They profess to be the advocates of the popular cause, while they are all found arrayed in close phalanx on the side of power, pouring out eulogies upon the administration, screening its officers, justifying acts of fraud and corruption, and opposing the people in their demand for inquiry and investigation! Though the party to which I have the honor of belonging has been stigmatized and traduced as the enemy of popular rights, I profess, sir, my attachment to them. i avow undying devotion to the liberties of my country, and I hope yet to live to see the day when the rights of the people, the rights and power of this House, shall no longer be trampled under foot by base subserviency to executive power by those who bow the knee to its mandates, and crowd in eager anxiety to beg the crumbs that sali from the table of a royal master. Yes, sir, (continued Mr. P.,) I hope to live to see the day when the doctrines we have heard asserted on this floor will be lost and forgotten amid the glory of purer and brighter days—when the representatives of the people shali have their rights and proudly maintain their authority under the constitution--when pilgrims and votaries of liberty from every quarter of the oppressed earth shall gather together here, and bow, in reverence before that monument which a free people shall raise, whose noble shaft shall pierce the very heavens, reflecting back, from its broad and radiant surface, the light of everlasting truth and the beams of universal freedom! Mr. Speaker, (continued Mr. P.,) I cannot refrain from declaring the profound astonishment with which I listened to the extraordinary facts related on this floor by the gentleman from Tennessee, [Mr. Peyton,] in relation to the electioneering campaign made by the President last summer through the Western country. We have heard that he has been zealously engaged in the work of securing a successor to his power and authority. We heard of his interference in this matter, of his labors and undignified speeches in the contemptible work of raising into power one who lived by fawning upon his hand. Mortifying and disgusting as these facts are, not less astonishing did it appear to me, when in answer to them we heard the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. Glascock] and the gentleman from Louisiana [Mr. Riplex]

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

rise in their seats, and, instead of offering apology or denial, exert themselves to justify and vindicate the inter. ference. Sir, I well remember the “Gwinn letter,” which indirectly ordered the Ruckerized convention at Baltimore to do the bidding of a master. I knew well that the successor had been appointed, but I did not know, I did not believe, that I should see the day when a representative of a free but betrayed people would rise in his place in this House, and vindicate such appointment. We are told, in apology for an interference as unconstitutional as it has been undisguised and shameless, that the President has a right to speak his own opinions, “that he is a free man as well as any other citizen,” “that he is a man who was never known to hesitate in the frank assertion of his opinion,” &c. The private opinion of the President is one thing, the public declaration of his wishes is another. Whenever his opinion, whatever it may be, be it private or be it public, is sustained with all the power and influence of office, is enforced from cabinet ministers down to all the petty holders of office, is proclaimed and preached by menial sycophants and a subsidized press, notoriously under the dictation of power, then, sir, the President’s private opinion and preference become a law to a hundred thousand mercenary followers, who live upon his will. Every people, from their history and education, have a peculiar criterion by which to judge of liberty. In England, an idiot or a knave may sway the sceptre of empire by the law of legitimacy, and the plumes of a titled nobility may wave over stars and garters, and yet the Englishman may proudly claim to be a freeman; and why? Because these things are sustained by the funda; mental principles of the British constitution, as part of their authorized and lawful Government. But when Cromwell raised his Government over the ruins of the British constitution, and against the fundamental laws of the empire, although he added to the glory and the power of the British name, yet he was a dictator, and the people were slaves so long as they acquiesced in the usurpation. So it is here. . We live in a land of constitutional law, every principle of which sustains the freedom of the elective franchise, from the highest to the lowest. If this great principle of American liberty be violated and defied by executive dictation, no matter what character is raised up as the successor of power under such a dynasty, we are slaves and dastards if we tamely acquiesce. As far as practical liberty is concerned, there is no difference in effect, as to the people interested, between the Government of him who comes in, trampling over the freedom of election through dictation, bribery, and fraud, and he who comes into power waving over, the desolated fields of his country the bloody sword of a conqueror and usurper. As to all practical effects, they are the same. Is there any man in this IIouse who does not know that the President elect could not have been chosen but by the direct influence and interference of the President? Let no man say there is no proof of this interference. Independent of the facts stated by my friend from Tennessee, [Mr. Peyton,] and the published letters, toasts, &c., of the President himself, I will now call the attention of this House, and of this country, to some facts upon which I would defy any sworn jury of freemen on earth to bring in a verdict of “not guilty.” I will introduce a witness against whom hirelings have poured out their malignity and calumny, but whose veracity and private integrity no man dare impeach. ... I will give the language of the distinguished Senator from Tennessee, [Judge White,) as it is published in his speech at Knoxville last summer. When the President was on a visit to Tennessee, in the summer of 1834, and “after the rise of the state convention, many members wished to nominate me for the

presidency, but abandoned the attempt after they un: derstood that it would incur the President's displeasure, On his journey to Washington, the President conversed freely with some of my friends, and remonstrated against any attempt to nominate me; said there must be a mi. tional convention, and Mr. Van Buren ought to be nom. inated for the presidency, and 1 for the vice presiden. cy; and, when his eight years were expired, that I was young enough then to be taken up as President.” " " ' “After I gave my consent to the people to run, and be. fore the meeting of the Baltimore convention, I was re. peatedly forewarned what I might expect if my name was not withdrawn,” &c. Such are the unvarnished facts of the case. And who is there bold enough to deny that the President has in: terfered? Sir, the facts are beyond the possibility of denial, that he has openly interfered, and used his power and authority to nominate his successor, and to do it by bargain and arrangement. Every paltry intrigue and profligate proposition have been used and employed 10 effect this purpose. The chief offices of the republic have been bartered away, and the President, through the tremendous power and patronage of his position, his called upon a betrayed country to receive its rulers from the hands of a master. To see the sorce and bearing of these propositions which the President made, and to show that he fully use derstood his position and their profligate tendency, I will now refer to a scene in 1825, when his predecessor was chosen by this House. In two letters written by General Jackson, the one dated June 5, 1827, and the other dated July 18, we have the following extraordini. ry development: ... “Early in January, 1825, a member of Congress of high respectability visited me [General Jackson] one morning, and observed that he had a communication he was desirous to make to me; that he was informed ther: was a great intrigue going on, and that it was right! should be informed of it; [how very kind!] that he came as a friend; and let me receive the communication a. might, the friendly motives through which it was made. he hoped, would prevent any change of friendship of feeling, with regard to him, to which I replied, soon his high standing as a gentleman and member of Co gress, and from his uniform friendly and gentlemanly conduct towards myself, I could not suppose he woul" make any communication to me which he supposed Wài improper. Therefore, his motives being pure, let o think as I might of the communication, my feelings." wards him would remain unaltered. The gentlem." proceeded. He said he had been informed by to friends of Mr. Clay that the friends of Mr. Adams ho made overtures to them, saying, if Mr. Clay and ho friends would unite in aid of the election of Mr. Adam Mr. Clay should be Secretary of State. That the friends of Mr. Adams were urging, as a reason to induce." friends of Mr. Clay to accede to their proposition, ths, if I was elected President, Mr. Adams would be cont" ued Secretary of State. [* Inuendo, there would be n0 room for Kentucky.’] that the friends of Mr. Clay . ted that the West did not wish to separate from * West; and if I would say, or permit any of my coli. dential friends to say, that, in case I was elected Pro. dent, Mr. Adams should not be continued Secretary ps State, by a complete union of Mr. Clay and his friend. they would put an end to the presidential contest in Osiè hour. And he was of opinion it was right to fight such intriguers with their own weapons. To which, in *. stance, I replied, that in politics, as in every thing else, my, guide was principle; and, contrary to the expos and unbiased will of the people, or their constitul agents, I never, would step into the presidential to and requested him to say to Mr. Clay and his stro

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

(for I did suppose he had come from Mr. Clay, though he used the term of Mr. Clay's friends,) that before I would reach the presidential chair by such means of bargain and corruption, I would see the earth open and swallow both Mr. Clay and his friends, and myself with them. This disclosure was made to me by Mr. James Buchanan, a member of Congress from Pennsylvania, a gentleman of the first respectability and intelligence. “The evening before he had communicated, substantially, the same proposition to Major Eaton, my colleague in the Senate, [How did the General know that?] with a desire, warmly manifested, that he should communicate with me, and ascertain my views on the subject. This he declined doing, suggesting to Mr. Buchanan that he, as well as himself, could converse with me, and ascertain my views on the matter; though, from his knowledge of me, he thought that he could well conjecture my answer—that I would enter into no engagements whatever. To be thus approached by a gentleman of Mr. Buchanan's high character and standing, with an apology proffered at the time for what he was about to remark to me; one who, as I understood, had always to that moment been on faniliar and friendly terms with Mr. Clay, assuring me that on certain terms and conditions being assented to on my part, “then, by a union of Mr. Clay and his friends, they would put an end to the presidential contest in one hour,” what other conclusion or inference was to be made than that he spoke by authority either of Mr. Clay himself, or some of his confidential friends? The character of Mr. Buchanan with me forbids the idea that he was acting on his own responsibility, or that, under any circumstances, he could have been induced to propose an arrangement unless possessed of satisfactory assurances that, if accepted, it would be carried fully into effect. A weak mind would seldom or ever be thus disposed to act—an intelligent one never. Under all the circumstancees appearing at the time, I did not resist the impression that Mr. Buchanan had approached me on the cautiously submitted proposition of some authorized person; and, therefore, in giving him my answer, did so, requesting him ‘to say to Mr. Clay and his friends,’ what that answer had been,” &c. Observe what Mr. Buchanan says in his letter of explanation, August 8, 1827– “After I had finished, the General [Jackson] declared he had not the least objection to answer my question. that he thought well of Mr. Adams, but had never said or intimated that he would or that he would not appoint him Secretary of State. That these were secrets he would keep to himself; he would conceal them from the very hairs of his head. That if he believed his right hand then knew what his left would do upon the subject of appointments to office, he would cut it off and cast it into the fire. That if ever he should be elected President, it should be without solicitation and without in- | trigue,” &c. . . Mr. Speaker, it is not my purpose to expose contradic. tions, or to defend those against whom these charges were made. But I call up these scenes, that the world may compare the mock sentiments of affected purity then expressed with the conduct and notorious facts of the present day. And I here take occasion to say that, if it be true, as the President states, that he was approached in January, 1825, with such propositions, from a gentleman who declared to him “that he thought it was right to fight such intriguers with their own weapons”—I say if this be true, it proclaims that he who could avow so base and infamous a sentiment was utterly destitute. of all true conceptions of private honor or public integrity. if the President, in 1825, had such a high sense of honor and respect “for the unbiased will of the peo: ple” as to resuse to let it be known—not that he would

[ocr errors]

appoint any particular individual, but that he would not appoint a certain gentleman Secretary of State—where was his honor, where was his delicacy, in 1834, when he proposed to Judge White and “his friends” to regu. late and control the whole election by a Ruckerized convention, and through “bargain and corruption” to produce acquiescence by offering himself the first office in the republic to one, and reconciling another with the second office? Little did he think that, in 1825, he was uttering denunciations against his own course in 1834; little did he think, when he penned these declarations in 1827, that he was writing epithets to be called up, like burning letters, over his own conduct and character in 1836. Mr. Speaker, (continued Mr. P.,) it is with great pain and reluctance that I am compelled to speak of these transactions as I feel that I ought. Nothing could induce me to do so at present but the solemn conviction that I believe they are deeply identified with the liberties of this country. I speak of the President as officially connected with the institutions of freedom. I scorn to excuse him, and to hold up his minions and understrappers for responsibility and denunciation. No, sir; I disdain to use moderate language. I shall take his own epithets. I here then charge that the President has wilfully and openly interfered to appoint his successor, and that he has endeavored to accomplish his object by shameless “bargain and corruption.” He has succeeded, and, now, standing on the defaced and spurned constitution, waves aloft the unrestrained sceptre of empire over a deceived and betrayed country. Let us be rich and prosperous; let us be happy and free from personal restraint; let us retain all the forms of a republic, yet are we slaves, and history will hold up our infamy and degradation, if we acquiesce and submit to this lawless dictation. Rome still retained the forms of a republic, long after her conquering generals from devastated provinces brought in the plunder of sacked cities to be divided amongst those who were styled “Roman citizens.” Her people still nominally elected their tribune, long after the very sources of power had been corrupted and polluted by the bribery and profligacy of captivating chiefs and abandoned demagogues. These tribunes, who were at first elected to defend, as they nobly did, . popular rights, afterwards became prostituted, and, although ostensibly appointed still by the people, yet they knew the hand of their master, and prostrated the liberties of their country before his will. They were arranged and appointed beforehand by those who held the power of the republic. We, too, may still boast the forms of a free people, and long preserve them. We have seen the nomination and appointment of a successor to the Chief Executive; we have witnessed the success of that appointment. All the popularity and influence of the President, with his hundred thousand dependants, all the weight, and power, and influence of the Government, in all its vast and extensive ramifications, have been brought to bear upon the appointment of a successor. And I ask, sir, if we confirm, by re-election, this fraudulent appointment, will not posterity say we, too, are free only in name? Our country has been foully deceived; we have been basely deluded by all the arts of “intrigue, bargain, and corruption.” Let it not be said that these things are of no importance; that they have no effect upon practical liberty. Look to their consequences in the future. In physics, in morals, and in politics, those causes are at first small-which produce the most tremendous effects upon the destiny of man. The collection of a few shillings of ship-money brought the head of a monarch to the block, and changed for a time the Government of Great Britain. Go into the far West, and trace out, if you can, the origin of the vast Mississippi itself, you will find a bubble at the foot of perhaps some native

[ocr errors]

whose waters not a living creature turns aside; but follow it to the valley below, and it swells, and it deepens,

- Executive Administration.

and it widens, until the wealth of a nation floats on its

surface, and at the angry voice of whose stormy waves the hardy mariner trembles. I need not say that this is a full illustration of the history and progress of political affairs; that from apparently a small beginning the most tremendous results are produced; that one step over the great landmarks of the constitution will lead to the overthrow of all law, to the prostration of liberty, and the abandoned reign of arbitrary power. A drop of water oozing through the dykes of Holland, if unnoticed, would desolate the fairest regions, and spread terror through a ruined country. If now, in the infancy of our Government, the President has it in his power to nominate and appoint his successor, the day is not far distant when we shall live under a power more odious than hereditary monarchy, because it will be exercised under the deceitful name and habiliments of a republic. We are told that the South is to be “reconciled by the successor falling into Southern principles,” and that it is policy to acquiesce in the appointment. Sir, there may be at heart traitors in the South, but it will be treason to the constitution and to the country to submit to the dictation. No! never, never. We have been foully betrayed, and against the principles of the succession we declare uncompromising, unextinguishable war, “war to the knife.” It may be that we shall be but few in numbers; it may be that our flag-staff shall be shattered and broken, but we will nail the flag to the gunwale, and conquer or perish under it. Let not gentlemen suppose that the present state of things is to last forever——let them not suppose that the dominant party of to-day is to be the dominant party of to-morrow--let them not, in the arrogance of power, forever forget right. These things they may not perhaps feel in their day and generation, but their children may live to see the day when they shall curse, in the bitterness and deep auguish of their hearts, the memory of their fathers, for having brought down upon them degradation and ruin. Even Robespierre himself would have paused in his bloody career of ambition, if he could have foreseen that the same guillotine which he raised over the neck of Danton was so soon to be brought down with a just vengeance upon his own. And the Duke of Orleans, unprincipled as he was, when he sat in that infamous assembly which voted the death of Louis XVI, would have trembled with horror, as he gave his vote for the death of his own blood cousin, if he could have known that, under the despotism he was aiding to raise, his property was so soon to be confiscated and his dripping head held up by the executioner to the vengeance of a lawless mob. How can the South acquiesce under an administration the head of which has admitted that this Government has the constitutional power to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia?, I tell gentlemen they will yet be brought to quail and tremble under the tremendous power of this doctrine. We will yet see the lightning flash, and feel the earthquake's heave. The issue will be made, and we must be prepared to meet it like men, or to crave mercy from one who is against us in sentiment and in feeling. The coming administration has elements of weakness which it will be difficult to recover from. The opposition can never be satisfied with the corrupt and profii. gate principles under which it has been dictated. "Look 3round ano; the strength that is to be put forth. where is old Massachusetts? There she is, firm as her granite o ‘Yolasting hills, ready for another contest. Look ... on both sides of the Ohio, who have ral " *g over their country's ramparts, and

[JAN. 3, 1837.

less hill, from which runs a stream, at the ripple of have so nobly defended themselves against the mercenary bands of power; look to those intrepid people, through whose bosom run the waters of the Tennessee and the

Cumberland—where are they all? Ready and eager to step forward in the breach that has been made over the barriers thrown around the freedom of the elective franchise. Look to those people on both sides of the Savannah, and where are they? United in feeling and in sentiment, with one banner streaming aloft in the breeze--that banner under which the constitution was made-–the banner under which Jefferson sought his way to victory and to fame-–the only banner under which this Government can be reformed—the noble banner of

free trade and State rights, under which defeat is no

disgrace, and victory is redemption and liberty. We may be defeated, but not conquered; we have yet the undying spirit of freemen. Then let us come to the rally, and the republic may yet be safe. Mr. P. then concluded by moving the adoption of the original resolution. Mr. DUNLAP said he regretted the necessity there was for him to occupy the time of the House on this question; but from the remarks that had just fallen from the honorable gentleman from South Carolina [Mr. PickENs] he felt it a duty he owed to the Executive, as one of the Representatives from Tennessee, to answer some of the remarks of the honorable gentleman, and to correct him as to some of the facts he had stated. The gentleman from South Carolina has charged General Jackson with dictating to the American people who should be his successor, and by bargain, intrigue, and corruption, to have actually made the American people vote for and elect his successor. To prove these prem. ises to be true, the gentleman has referred to a public speech made by an honorable Senator from Tennessee, [Mr. White,) in which the President is charged with having proposed to make the honorable Senator Vice President if he would not run for the presidency. Mr. D. said the gentleman had also referred to the speech of his honorable colleague, [Mr. Peyton,] made a few days since in this House, in which the President is charged with interfering with the elections in Tennessee, and abusing a portion of the Representatives from that State. Mr. D. said he had it from the mouth of the President that he never made such a proposition as the one men: tioned in Mr. White's speech; and that he never said that one of his colleagues [Mr. Shields] was of no account, and that his constituents ought to send some one that was of some account; nor did he ever say that another of his colleagues [Mr. Hunts MAN] was on the fence, and no one knows which side he will fall. These charges the President pronounces to be false. Now, sir, said Mr. D., if the premises of the gentleman from South Carolina are erroneous, his conclusions must ne: cessarily be so. Mr. D. said the administration of President Jackson had been more violently attacked than that of any other President. . The opposition to it had made charge after charge against it, and no doubt often without knowing whether they were true or salse; and they had misrepresented what the President had said about persons who had always supported his administration, to make them his enemies, and thus get them to give publicity to those charges. Mr. D. said he regretted very much that either of his colleagues should have thought it necesso for them to make the charges they did against the Ex: ecutive. ... He was the adopted son of Tennessee; he had spent a life, from boyhood to where he now lies On a bed of sickness, in the service of his country; he has of ten led the sons of Tennessee to victory and glory, and has gained for himself and his favorite Tennessee ". perishable renown. Mr. D. said he should have felt that he had done injustice to the President, to his constitu" JAN. 3, 1837.]

ents, to his State, and to his country, if he had kept his i. and had not given the House the information he ad. He said he was a native Tennesseean, and proud of the name; that he was at all times ready to defend the character of his State or her sons, for it is the character of the public servant that gives character to the State. In detracting from the character of General Jackson, you detract from the character of the State. Sir, (said Mr. D.,) General Jackson has given to the State of Tennessee more character than any of her other citizens. Mr. D. said he knew full well that great efforts had been made to get Tennessee in opposition to the President, but that could never be done. Tennesseeans were governed by principle. Although a majority of them differed with the President as to who should be the sucsessor, they were not opposed to him or to his adminis. tration. Mr. D. said he was opposed to the election of Mr. Van Buren, and in favor of his colleague, (Mr. white.) He was for him, for his worth and merit, but he was not prepared to take the course of the gentleman from South Carolina, who had declared open and uncompromising war against the next administration. Sir, (said Mr. D.,) how does that gentleman know what will be the principles upon which the next President will administer this Government? Mr. Van Buren has been elected by a majority of the States and a majority of the people; and it is to be presumed that he will administer it on the good old republican principle; and if so, he should most unquestionably support his administration. He would not oppose or support any administration but upon principle. Mr. D. said he would now say a few words to the friends of the administration. The gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Wise] had preferred a general charge against the executive officers of this administration, and asked that a committee might be appointed to examine all of them. Mr. D. said he hoped no friends of the administration would shrink from this general investigation. We now had it in our power to silence the slang of the enemies of the administration forever, by letting them go and examine all the offices; and if there have been any frauds or corruptions in any of them, let the brand of infamy be fixed on them, and let the country and all future administrations know they are unworthy to be trusted. We know, (said Mr. D.,) and the American people know, that it is impossible for the President to know all the persons he has to appoint to office, and that he has to depend on his friends for information, and, in some instances, he may have been imposed on, and unworthy men recommended to him. If there be any such, let them be hunted out, and their crimes made known to this House and the whole American people. Mr. D. said, if any amendment should be adopted, it would give the enemies of the administration an opportunity of saying they were limited in their inquiries, and that the administration was afraid of a general investigation. As one of the friends of the administration, (Mr. D. said,) he was for the broadest inquiry, and he would vote for the inquiry in the way they desired it, that there should be no excuse that they were limited. Mr. PEYTON said: Since my colleague has volunteered his services, and come upon the stand to give evidence against me, the direct tendency of which is to attack my veracity, although he seems to evade that, I claim the right to examine the witness. I mean, sir, to examine him upon his voir dire, and require him to speak the whole truth. This seeming extraordinary sensitiveness of the gentleman, the mock sympathy in the loud appeals which he has just exhibited, the pretended necessity of defending the President, are the usual evidences which I have observed to accompany a Van Buren conversion. Yes, sir, and I am not at all surprised

[merged small][ocr errors]

to witness it in my colleague. I thought I had seen strong premonitory symptoms of this besore. I had never known a deserter leave our ranks but what he went over hallooing glory, glory to General Jackson. He says that he has differed with General Jackson as to the succession. I do not know, sir; I think, if that gentleman differed with the President at all, the difference was not worth naming. I looked with anxiety for friends to Mr. White every where through our State, and I never was able to put my finger on that gentleman's services. But, sir, I understand the gentleman as giving in his adhesion now, and as pledging himself in advance to the support of the new administration. He wishes to know if any man who possesses the feelings of patriotism can oppose the measures of that administration before he knows what they are. Sir, as to principles and measures, I shall be found ever supporting the same that I have done heretofore. I shall not turn from my course, and leave my principles, because they may or may not be advocated and sustained by any President. But, sir, I never will ratify the deed of succession. I never will countenance an act which makes the nomination of a successor a cabinet measure, and issues in advance a veto on the ballot-box. But, sir, my object in rising was to notice the evidence of the gentleman, and to get a little more out of him, if possible. He professes ignorance of that which was known to every body else in Tennessee, and, to strengthen his ignorance, he says that the President authorized him to come here and make the denial which he has made. Now, in the first place, I wish to know of the gentleman when this denial was made; was it since the beginning of the present session of Congress? I wish the gentleman to say when. [Mr. DUN LAP rose, and said he did not intend to be catechised in this style by his colleague, [Mr. PErton ;) but as to the time when the President made the denial to him, he (Mr. D.) was not unwilling to give his colleague whatever information he might desire. He would, therefore, say that he (Mr. D.) had not seen the President from July last until December; he had never had any conversation with the President in relation to the tales circulated in Tennessee until after his colleague (Mr. P.) had made his late speech on the resolution now before the House. In reference to this speech, and the speech made by the Senator from Tennessee, [Mr. White,) the President made the denial which he had repeated.] Mr. PExton resumed. Just as I expected, Mr. Speaker. The evidence has been extracted at this session of Congress, since I made a speech, to be used upon this occasion. Is it not extraordinary, while the gentleman is bellowing so pathetically, thundering his sympathy into the very stones of the Capitol, about the poor sick President, the dying President, that he should convict himself of tormenting and harassing him on such subjects? But, sir, this shows that what I have often said is the fact—that nothing transpires here but it is immediately hissed into the ears of the President by some eaves-dropper, some penny-post carrier of news, from this hall. Sir, they know the President’s excitability; they know how to extract from his excited feelings denunciations broad, denials, general and special, of whatever was said, especially in the shape in which they present it before him; and then they run forth, proclaiming to the world that they are authorized by the old Hero to denounce and convict the object of their attack of falsehood. The gentleman says he will not be catechised by me. How dare he then volunteer himself as a witness here against me? No, sir, he cannot stand up and answer me; if he were, I would make him acknowledge that the President did not deny what I stated to be true. At what has the gentleman taken fire? At the charge that the President was highly excited in Tennes

« AnteriorContinuar »