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Mr. C. would not repeat the argumeht, Mr. Madison |
had also predicted what Mr. C. feared he should see sulfilled, that the opposite argument would lead to consolidation, or was consolidation itself, and that the consequent effect would be a monarchy. What was prediction in 1799, was already, Mr. C. said, in part realized. We had not yet arrived at the stage of monarchy, but the executive department was in a fair way of absorbing the whole powers of the system. Mr. C. held it to be due to the memory of Mr. Madison, and to the powerful argument just read in his report, that questions of this kind should be considered with all possible caution. He had given his views of this portion of the constitution in the prime of his life and vigor of his manhood; and such views elevated Mr. Jefferson to the chief magistracy in the political revolution of 1800, and afterward elevated Mr. Madison himself. The fame of this illustrious man, and the debt which we owed him for all he did for our institutions, demanded that we should do nothing on the present occasion to show a want of respect for him or his sentiIncints. The question now before the Senate, Mr. C. said, was whether Congress had the power to purchase the copy-right to Mr. Madison's papers, which, in the pres
ent state of political feelings, were regarded of little or
no value in the money market. Mr. C. regarded it as truly deplorable, that these invaluable papers, which threw a light upon the constitution which had never been shed upon it before, should be deemed of no value by the public, absorbed with party politics and the low love of gain, so that such a work could not be published. But where, Mr. C. asked, was the special power in the constitution for Congress to publish such a work? This was a solemn question, the answer to which should be shown not by precedent, but by the constitution. The practice of Congress, Mr. C. said, had been most loose on this and all other points. But the real question was, whether there was such a power in the constitution. The chairman of the committee had not rested his argument on this, but on the broad general principle that these papers would throw a new and brilliant light upon our institutions, and constitute a new era in their history, and in the progress of the human mind; thus promoting the general welfare by the diffusion of intelligence, for which Congress had no authority in the constitution. Mr. C. felt that his position in opposition to this resolution was a painful one; but the opinions of Mr. Madison, which were the text book of Mr. C., and of those with whom he acted, demanded that he should not abandon it. ... He had spoken as briefly as possible, and wished chiefly for the opportunity of recording his vote against the proposition. Mr. PRESTON said he concurred fully with his col. league in all the principles laid down in the celebrated report of Mr. Madison, as an argument upon the constitution; and he considered his refutation of the oppo. site doctrines, under the constitution, to have been unanswered, and were wholly unswerable. But, acquiescing fully in the views both of his colleague and of Mr. Madison, Mr. P. said he could still conscientiously vote for this resolution. On the grounds to which his colleague had alluded, this resolution ought not to pass. But, Mr. P. believed they had no application whatever to the case in hand. In the examination of these papers, the committee came to this general result: that these Papers were part and parcel of the constitution and of the moniments of our Government, being not only connected but on a manner identified with them, as much so as were the journals of the convention. These journo!...@...') obsen published by authority of an act
of Congress in 1819, under the administration of Mr.
Monroe, a man eminently devoted to the principles which his colleague had commended; a strict republican as to his political character; and this Mr. P. believed was done without the dissent of any party or any individ. ual, and without the slighest objection. Seeing that this was a proceeding of a republican Congress and a republican President, it was a subject of consideration with the committee, on what principle this whole country had yielded to the propriety of such a publication; and they concluded that it was a necessary portion, not only of our constitutional history, but of our constitutional existence. Now, (asked Mr. P.,) are these papers of the same character? They comprised the speeches of those who took an active part in the formation of the Government, and exhibited their views of that Government, taken down with the greatest possible accuracy and fulness; and the most remarkable speeches, after having been written out by Mr. Madison, were revised and corrected by the hand of Hamilton; so that the whole was a complete history of these transactions. It was objected to these reports that they were not in fact official. But what right have Congress to publish the official proceedings of that body more than the unof. ficial? The publication of both proceeds on the same ground, that they are part and parcel of our frame of government, being an exposition of the views of those who formed the constitution, and, therefore, best showing its true meaning. In the same way (Mr. P. said) Congress found it convenient to publish the journals of the old Congress under the confederation, and no one hesitated, on any side. And yet these papers had no more than a historical connexion with our present form of Government, and were by no means so free from objections, founded on the principles of Mr. Madison's report, as were the papers of Mr. Madison now in question. There were still other precedents which might be relied on, and among them was the purchase by Congress of the papers of General Washington, at $25,000, without any serious objection.- And there was another still more remarkable example in regard to our revolutionary history. Mr. P. also adduced some other precedents of less importance. He said the Library Committee would, in his view, have been entirely justified in purchasing, on their own authority, the papers of Mr. Madison, to deposite in the Library, if there had been no ulterior view to their publication. Mrs. Madison had stated that the offers made her for the papers in question were not satisfactory. It was to be supposed they were not very great. But the committee did not feel themselves authorized to inquire what Mrs. Madison intended to do with the money which she might derive from the work. The proposition on her part was to sell thus much of her property to the Congress of the United States; and whether there were legacies on that fund or not was not for Congress to inquire. They might just as well ask whether the printer whom they employed would give away his money for this or that object, or whether he would spend it in gambling, drunkenness, or debauchery. For these things Congress were not responsible. Mr. P. said he deemed the history of the Government as of very great value, and he felt extremely desirous that the greatest possible light should be thrown upon it; so strong was this feeling, as to cause in him some self-distrust as to his estimate of the very great value of the work now in question. But he was by no means disposed to construe the constitution merely by the words it contained, but he thought it exceedingly desirable to know the views and intentions of its framers, which must be regarded as the only true spirit of the instrument. Mr. P. made various other remarks, still further illustrating and enforcing his views.
Fen. 20, 1837.]
Papers of Mr. Madison.
Mr. WEBSTER said he supposed that there was no member of the Senate who regarded the sum proposed to be given for these manuscripts as too large, if the appropriation was within the just field of their constitutional powers. Now, what was the object of this appropriation? The Senate sat under a constitution which had now endured more than fifty years, and had been formed under very peculiar circumstances, under a great exigency, and in a manner that no constitution had ever been formed in any other country—on principles of united and yet divided legislation, altogether unexampled in the history of free States. Mr. W. agreed fully in the sentiment that the constant rule of interpretation to be applied to this instrument was, that its restrictions were contained in itself, and that it was to be made, as far as possible, its own interpreter. He also agreed that the practice under the Government, for a long course of years, and the opinions of those who both formed the instrument, and afterwards aided in carrying it into effect by laws passed under its authority, were to be the next ground of interpretation; and it seemed to him that the measure now proposed was of great importance, both in connexion with the constitution itself, and with the history of its interpretation. He should not now speak of the political opinions of Mr. Madison. He looked only to the general facts of the case. It was well known that the convention of great men who formed our constitution sat with closed doors; that no report of their proceedings was published at that time; and that their debates were listened to by none but themselves and the officers in attendance. We had, indeed, the official journal kept by their order. It was an important document, but it informed us only of their official acts. We got from it nothing whatever of the debates in that illustrious body. Besides this, there were only a few published sketches, more or less valuable. But the connexion of Mr. Madison with the constitution and the Government, and his profound knowledge of all that related to both, would necessarily give to any reports which he should have taken a superior claim to accuracy. It was his purpose, when he entered the body, to report its whole proceedings. He chose a position which best enabled him to do so; nor had he been absent a single day during the whole period of its sittings. It was further understood that his report of the leading speeches had been submitted to the members for correction. The fact was well known to them all that he was thus collecting materials for a detailed report of their proceedings. Without, therefore, having seen a page of these manuscripts, it was reasonable to conclude that they must contain matter not only highly interesting, but very useful; and it was his impression that, among this class of cases, the Senate could not better consult the wishes and interests of the American people than to let them see a document of this character, from the pen of such a man as Madison. That gentleman had been more connected with the constitution than almost any other individual. He had been present in that little assemblage that met at Annapolis in '86, with whom the idea of a convention originated. He was afterwards a mem. ber of the convention of Virginia, which ratified the constitution. He had then been a member of the first Congress, and had taken an important lead in the great duties of its legislation, under that constitution, in the formation of which he had acted so conspicuous a part. He had afterwards filled the important station of Secre. tary of State, and had subsequently been for eight years President of the United States. Thus, his whole life had been intimately connected, first with the formation, and then with the administration of the constitution.
Mr. W. said that he saw no constitutional objection to the purchase of these manuscripts. Why did Congress purchase every year works on history, geography, bota
ny, metaphysics, and morals? How was it that they had purchased a collection of works of the most miscellane. ous character from Mr. Jefferson? The manuscripts in question stood in a different relation. They related immediately and intimately to the nation’s own affairs, and especially to the construction of that great instrument under which the Houses of Congress were now sitting. If the doctrine advanced by the Senator from South Car. olina was to prevail, Congress ought forth with to clear its library of everything but the State Papers. Mr. W’s views on the constitution were well known; whether an inspection of these papers would confirm and strengthen the views he entertained respecting that instrument, he could not say; but certainly, if they were now within his reach, he should be very eager to read them; and their examination would be one of the very first things that he should engage in. A report of such debates, from such a pen, could not but be of the highest importance, and its perusal was well calculated to gratify a rational curiosity. It might throw much light on the early interpretation of the constitution, and on the nature and structure of our Government. But, while it produced this effect, it could do more than all other things to show to the people of the United States through what conciliation, through what a temper of compromise, through what a just yielding of the judgment of one individual to that of another, through what a spirit of manly and brotherly love, that assembly of illustrious men had been enabled finally to agree upon the form of . a constitution for their country, and had succeeded in conferring so great a good upon the American people. Mr. NILES said he regretted that the committee had presented this subject for the action of the Senate in the precise form they had, as he feared that he should not be able to give the resolution his support, which he should have been happy to have done had the resolution been in a different shape. He concurred in all that had been said as to the merits of the work, and the high character of its illustrious author. He would yield to no man in the estimation in which he held the character, services, and political opinions, of Mr. Madison. But the universally acknowledged merit of the work should induce us to be more cautious not to act on unsound principles, and unnecessarily set a bad example. He was sorry that the committee had not gone further, and let us know what is their ultimate purpose in the purchase of these manuscripts. Are they to be purchased for publication, or to be deposited in the library for the use of congress? If the latter was the object, he saw no constitutional difficulty in the way; but there were other serious objections to that course. . Thirty thousand dollars was an enormous sum to pay for the manuscripts, in case they were to be used only as an addition to the library of Congress; besides, if this is the only object, the purchase of the manuscripts will be the means of withholding the work from the press, instead of aiding in diffusing the sentiments of the author among the people of the United States, which he supposed was the principal object. It was unnecessary to dwell on this aspect of the question, because he was satisfied that such was not the object in view. There could be no doubt that the real purpose is the publication of the work; and what is to be the nature and extent of the publication? Are we to publish a few hundred copies only, for the use of Congress and the public offices, or is Congress to publish a large edition for general distribution? There might be less objection, on the ground of principle, to the former course, but it would certainly be a very expensive way of supplying Congress with the work. He thought the proper course would be for Congress to urchase a certain number of copies of the work after it should be published; or, if it was deemed necessary to encourage the publication, and to add to the present
value of the copy-right, he should have no objection, and feel no difficulty in the adoption of a resolution authorizing the subscription to five hundred or one thousand copies of the work, at a fair price, to be paid for when it might be published. There can be no constitutional difficulty in purchasing the manuscript for the library, nor in purchasing a certain number of copies of the published work, nor in authorizing a subscription for a number of copies of the work when it may be published; but to purchase the manuscript, not for the library, but for the purpose of publication, is a very different thing. He doubted the power of Congress to do this, and he could see no necessity whatever for it. Why is it necessary for Congress to interfere? The work will be published without our aid. This manuscript is valuable, for we have just been informed that five thousand dollars have been offered for it. The aid of Congress, therefore, is not necessary to secure the publication of the work, and to enable the people of the United States to have the benefit of the sentinents of the illustrious author. What reason, then, can be assigned why Congress should purchase the copy-right, and become the publisher of the work? Why has this application been made to us? He apprehended that there could be no other reason than that assigned by the Senator from South Carolina, [Mr. CALHoux,] that the aid of Congress was necessary to pay the legacies charged upon this manuscript. Under the form of purchasing the manuscript, we are to pay the legacies in the testament of Mr. Madison, charged upon a fund which is insufficient to satisfy them. Is not this the whole of the case? The high merit of the work is of no consequence in this view of the question, because the country will have the benefit of it without our interference. ... It is not on this ground that the purchase could be justified, and he could see no other object but to secure the execution of the will and the payment of the legacies. But, said Mr. N., is there not a great principle involved in this question; one much more important than that as to the propriety of the appropriation? Is Congress to become the publisher of books for general distribution, and with the view to enlighten the people? Where are we to find our authority for such a proceeding? We are told that these manuscripts, containing the only authentic account of the proceedings of the convention, ought justly to be considered as a part of the constitution itself; that they belong to, and are part of, the muniments of the Government. This is a strong claim to be set up for the private manuscripts of an individual, however distinguished or connected with the institutions of the country. Bo admitting it to be true, has Congress the power to publish the constitution itself for general distribution, and for the purpose of affording political intel. ligence to the people? We may publish our journal or public records, for the use of Congress or the officers of the Government. But ca, "Songress take upon itself to decide what political information is proper to be distributed among the people, and then, become the publisher and distributer of the works containing the same, at the expense of the national Treasury? This would not only be a very extraordinary but a very dan. gerous power. . It would not only be a new source of expendiure, but the assumption of a power which might be wielded with tremendous effect, in operating upon Public opinion. If this work is to be published at the public expense and by the authority of Congress, on the ground that it is calculated to explain and illustrate the theory and Principles of the Government, the same claim may be set up. for works of a very different description. Who is to osode what is the to theory and exposition of the Consootion? This has been a subject of contr. versy from the formation of the constitution. Tho.
ferent opinions which have existed in relation to this matter have formed the basis and foundation of parties. One work will contain the true exposition of the constitution, according to the views of one party, and a very different work according to the opinions of another party. When one party is in the ascendency, they may publish and distribute among the people such works as may be calculated to explain and illustrate what they regard as the true theory of the Government; and another party, when in power, may authorize the publication of political works of an opposite character, to explain and unfold the true theory of the constitution as they understand it. This is a power which would unavoidably lead to abuses of the most dangerous tendency; as nothing could be more mischievous than for Congress, by its direct action, and by the expenditure of the public funds, to attempt to influence public sentiment on political questions. The works of Mr. Madison would no doubt exert a highly beneficial influence on public opinion; but if a precedent is established, Congress may exercise the power, by publishing and distributing political works of a very different character. He believed that Congress hio. authority to publish any work for general circulation, or for any other purpose than the use of the Government; and he could conceive of no assumption of power more dangerors, or of which the people ought to be more jealous. He regretted that the committee had presented this subject in the manner they had, and was sorry they had not gone further, and informed the Senate what was their ultimate purpose in purchasing these manuscripts. But as they had not done this, he felt it his duty to look beyond the resolution, and to decide for himself what was intended by the purchase. He believed that the object was to publish the work under the authority and at the expense of the United States; and believing that such a proceeding would be wholly unauthorized, and a very dangerous exercise of power, he felt constrained to vote against the resolution. Mr. CRITTENDEN advocated the resolution. After pronouncing a merited eulogy on the character of Mr. Madison, he observed that we might w ith great reason anticipate the character of this work from that of its author; and such was the estimation in which he individually held a report compiled under such circumstances, by such a man, that he believed its value could scarce be overrated. There was no gentleman, he believed, who had expressed any hesitation as to the price proposed to be given; but the Senator from South Carolina was very apprehensive that, in purchasing this work, Congress would. be exercising an unconstitutional power, and one which had a dangerous tendency toward the consolidation of the Government. Now, one great reason why Mr. C. was desirous of obtaining this and all other productions of Mr. Madison was the conviction that we could nowhere find more light as to the just interpretation of the powers in the constitution. As to the authority to make this purchase, if there was any value in precedents, there were enough of these to place it beyond question: the senator demanded a specific power. A sufficient reply to that question would be to ask another. Under what specific power in the constitution had Congress erected this costly and magnificent palace for its legislation? Surely a building less expensive would have met and satisfied the necessities of the case. Who would say that these noble ranges of pillars, and the splendid dome they sustained, were indispensable to the deliberations of the Senate Nay, where was the specific power for the erection of the Capitol at all? He would further de; mand of the senator under what specific power he voted for the purchase of books for the library? The truth was, that all these acts pertained to that subordiuate class Feb. 20, 1837.]
Papers of Mr. Madison.
of powers which regulated what might be called the domestic economy of the Government, and which were necessary to the exercise of the primary and higher powers specifically enumerated in the constitution. And surely, if Congress could purchase any work constitutionally, was there any which it might more legitimately buy than the manuscript now in question? Could any work be more desirable to an American statesman? any more useful to an American legislator? Such a report formed an integral and most important part of the national history. It was a part of the archives of the Government itself. The Senator from Connecticut [Mr. NILEs) was willing to purchase 500 or 1,000 copies of the work, when printed. That would be quite legitimate; but the honorable Senator was startled at the idea of purchasing a manuscript for publication. On what subtle ground of constitutional construction the gentleman came to such a conclusion Mr. C. was unable to comprehend. If the manuscript were purchased, would it not afterwards be printed! If it was printed, then all difficulty would be out of the way; but to purchase as a preparatory step to printing would be a daring violation of the constitution. Mr. C. was really unable to appreciate the force of this argument. Congress designed to purchase this work for its own use; and did it constitute an objection that thereby the community would be enabled tw get it also, and to possess it in a more authentic form? Congress had a right to erect a chamber for its own deliberations. Did the act become unconstitutional if the dimensions of that chamber should be so enlarged as to admit the erection of a gallery for spectators? No more did it become unconstitutional for Congress to purchase a work for themselves because the public could get incidentally the advantage of it. Mr. C. was desirous that Congress, by such an act, should commend this work to the American people, should put its imprimatur upon it, and send it forth with all the additional weight which such an act could give. That which was not strictly necessary might nevertheless be highly useful and becoming, in the exercise of powers confessedly constitutional. Was it necessary to place in this hall that venerable countenance of Washington, which seemed, as it were, to preside in silent dignity over their legislation? Was there any specific power which authorized them to adorn the Capitol with historic paintings and emblematical statuary? He believed that in purchasing this work the Senate would fulfil a duty near and dear to the hearts of the American people. If the remains of Mr. Madison were known to exist in the remotest corner of the world, Mr. C. would vote for an expedition that would cost far more than these manuscripts, to bring back dust so sacred to this country for a grave. Would not Congress have power to do that? Where was the specific power for the exploring expedition now fitting out?—an expedition that would cover the nation with imperishable renown. Should the gentleman's interpretation prevail, the nation would be shorn of the brightest beams which now encircle its name; and though Mr. C. differed from that gentleman as to constitutional views, he could not but believe that he was influenced at heart by all those feelings which would induce Mr. C. to support this measure. For himself, he had never given a vote with a more entire conviction of its perfect propriety. Mr. CALHOUN rejoined, and further insisted upon the ground he had before taken. There was no diversity of opinion as to the value of these manuscripts, nor with regard to the great character of Mr. Madison, nor as to its being a very desirable object that this work should be published; but whether it should be published by the agency of Congress was a different question. The work, however, would be published at all events. Mrs. Madison had been offered $5,000 for it. That was
sufficient to secure the publication. If Congress wished any copies for the library, they could furnish themselves with as many as might be necessary. Why must they purchase the copy-right? Would this application ever have come here if Mrs. Madison had been offered by the booksellers enough money to cover the legacies in her husband’s will? [Mr. CRITTENDEN interposed, and said he presumed it would. The reverence in which that distinguished woman held her husband's memory would naturally induce her to desire to dispose of this manuscript rather to the Government of this country than to booksellers. As to purchasing the copy-right, so precious did he hold the manuscript itself, that, did he possess it, he would not take the $30,000 for it.] Mr. Calhoun resumed, and insisted that, let gentlemen twist and turn the question as they pleased, it amounted to neither more nor less than this: an appropriation by Congress to pay the legacies in Mr. Madison's will. Mr. C. profoundly regretted that those legacies had ever been charged upon the avails of this manuscript. Mr. Madison had died childless, and had left his wife in easy circumstances. How much better would it have been had he left this work, free of all cost, as a legacy to the American people? And he no less regretted that Mrs. Madison had ever made the present application to Congress; and his regret was yet heightened, because a compliance with her request involved a plain and palpable violation of that rule in the interpretation of the constitution which Mr. Madison himself had laid down. The rule was full of the prosoundest political wisdom and foresight, and evinced in the mind of that great man a just foreboding as to the sate of this Government. It would honor the memory of Madison far more to regard this rule than to purchase this manuscript. And if the manuscript itself was esteemed so valuable, there was no doubt that the printer, after the edition was worked off, would very gladly give the original to Congress. He then went on in a course of argument to show that the appropriation involved a violation of the principles laid down by Mr. Madison with respect to limited powers, and would, if carried out, leave it in the power of the Government to perform any act whatever which it might deem conducive to the general welfare. In reply to the inquiry of Mr. CRITTENDEN as to the erection and decoration of the Capitol, he observed that the case was very plain. They were a legislative body, and must have a house in which to assemble; and whether the building were small or large, more or less expensive, did not vary the constitutional question. As to its profuse decoration, there had been many politicians of the old school who doubted its expediency, and thought that much plainer buildings would have been more consistent with our republican simplicity. As to the exploring expedition, Mr. C. greatly doubted the right of Congress to sanction any such measure. But thus we proceeded, step by step; one departure was made to sanction another, until at length they came down to the great question which had originally separated the two parties in this Government. Mr. C. admitted that when a young man, and at his entrance upon political life, he had inclined to that interpretation of the constitution which favored a latitude of powers, but experienced observation and reflection had wrought a great change in his views; and, above all, the transcendent argument of Mr. Madison himself, in his celebrated resolutions of 1798, had done more than all other things to convince him of his error. The opposite course tended to a Government of unlimited powers, and in such a Government the executive department must inevitably swallow up all the rest. The Senator from Kentucky [Mr. CRITTENDEN] had warred nobly against executive encroachments, but that warfare would be all in vain unless the money power of the Government should
SENATE.] [Fen. 20, 1837.
be closely watched. He had been struck with the sagacity and foresight of Mr. Jefferson, in a remark of that great statesman, that legislative usurpation would always precede executive, but that executive would always succeed it. Yet there would be a thousand cases which so strongly appealed to the hearts and sympathies of legislators, that these salutary restraints and warnings were all in danger of being swept away; and he who should oppose appeals of that nature would come to feel little in his own eyes, and to accuse himself of a want of the noblest feelings of the heart. He concluded by once more asserting that the naked question before the Senate was, whether they would vote an appropriation to pay the legacies in Mr. Madison's will. As he could not in conscience vote in the affirmative, he desired that the question should be taken by yeas and nays. Mr. WIVES said he little expected, after the numerous appropriations for objects very questionable in their nature, and involving far more dubious constitutional uestions, which pass here from session to session and from day to day without objection or observation, that we should have been occupied in a grave constitutional discussion on such a resolution as this. He most thoroughly concurred with the Senator from South Carolina in every fundamental principle he has now laid down. He subscribed most heartly to the doctrine that Senator has quoted from the celebrated report of Mr. Madison in 1798. But what is that doctrine? What was the occasion of its being advanced, and what is its just application? The Senate will all recollect that at an early stage of the history of this Government an attempt was made to pervert a clause in the first article of the constitution, which empowers Congress to “lay and collect duties, &c., to pay the debts and provide sor the common defence and general welfare of the United States.” The first construction attempted to be put upon these words was, that Congress has power to do whatever it may deem necessary and proper for the common defence and general welfare; a construction which goes at once to prostrate all notion of specific powers, and which renders the subsequent grant of those powers in the constitution itself perfectly nugatory. But this interpretation was so gross, and so entirely at war with the whole spirit and genius of our Government, that it enjoyed but a brief reign. It was followed, however, by a construction much more plausible, and which was strenuously advocated by the justly celebrated Alexander Hamilton. He contended that although Congress did not possess a general and unlimited power to do any thing they pleased, provided they thought it for the general welfare, yet that they might do any thing whatever which could be accomplished through the appropriation of money. It was in answer to that doctrine that Mr. Madison, in the able report from which extracts have been read, undertook to show that the money power of Congress was itself subject to all the limitations of the constitution; that it was intrusted with Congress only as a means of carry. ing into effect the specific powers enumerated in that instrument; and this has ever since been held to be the true, orthodox, republican doctrine. To that doctrine I give my full and unreserved assent. But, while I do this, I say that it has no application here; and I admit that, if this appropriation cannot be sustainca by showing that it has a proper relation to the delegated power of Congress, it cannot be justified. None can justly defend it on the ground that the money power is wider in extent than the other powers. No.
We must be held, in every case, to the specific trusts of
the cootion; but then it is not necessary that there shall oy case be a verbal grant of the power. i think the Senator from Kentucky [Mr. Caitt ENDEN] fairly *::: the Senator from South Carolina. He inquiro", "We are to look for a specific power granted
Papers of Mr. Madison.
in words for each particular application of money, where was the authority for the erection of these gorgeous and magnificent columns, and for decorating the walls of this chamber with that image of the Father of his Country? The argument was, in my opinion, appropriate and conclusive. But it might be carried still further. I think the Senator from South Carolina, whilst he goes for a strict construction of the constitution, is in this case overstrict. If his notion of limited powers be correct, where is our authority, not for constructing so magnificent a building as this, but for erecting any building at all, even in the plainest style of Doric simplicity? Where is our grant of power to erect a mansion for the Executive, or public buildings to contain the national archives? There is evidently none. We must resort in all these cases to another clause, which declares that Congress shall have power “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the forcgoing powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.” Our power to appropriate money for the erection of this Capitol, or of the President's house, does not lie in the fact that such an appropriation is absolutely necessary, for it is not absolutely necessary. The President might reside, as many of the Chief Magistrates of the States do reside, in a private mansion, provided at his own expense; and Congress might hire some apartment, without expending money in the erection of a house for its own exclusive occupancy; and, according to the doctrine of the Senator from South Carolina, as there is no specific grant here, there can be no constitutional authority for such an application of the public money. But, though not indispensably necessary, it may, nevertheless, be fit and proper, and may be covered by the limited discretionary power to make laws to carry into effect those powers which are specifically enumerated. A construction so strict as that pleaded for by the Senator from South Carolina on the present occasion, would strip the Congress of its salutary powers, would disarm it, and render it utterly useless for all practical purposes. There must be a just discretion. Put let me call the attention of that Senator to the report of Mr. Madison. I have not looked over it for two or three years, but my mind was so early and so deeply imbued with its principles, I looked to it with so much pride and confidence, as containing the political creed of my state, that I do not think I can err in saying that the test of any appropriation, as laid down by that great man, is, not that it shall be absolutely indispensable, but that it must bear “ a direct and appropriate relation” to some of the powers specifically granted. By that test I am willing to abide; and I will vote for this appropriation, not on the broad principle that it promotes the general welfare, but on the ground that, on a fair common-sense and practical interpretation of the constitution, it has a direct and appropriate relation to powers specifically granted. Now, to apply this principle: I ask, is there any Government which has not power to preserve, and, if it pleases, to publish the acts and records of its own official history? The other Senator from South Carolina [Mr. Parsoro’s] put this matter, as I think, upon the true ground—on ground solid and impregnable. These debates of the convention are in the nature of public archives. They are the records and muniments of ournational history, and it is only in that view that I am in savor of purchasing them; and I contend that this appropriation stands on far narrower grounds than those we are continually passing for the increase of our miscellaneous library, or than that by which we erected this Capitol or the mansion of the Chief Magistrate. It is directed to the preservation of the monuments of our creation and organized existence as a nation and a Govern.