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H. OF R.)
Freedom of Elections.
(Jan. 25, 1837.
office-holders are bound by gratitude, or any other ob. a per centage of their salaries-that, in other words, ligation, to conform to the wishes of the appointing they are regularly taxed for the support of the candipower in elections. The suspicions and misrepresenta: dale of the party in power. If this be true, it is proof tions that office holders are exposed to in an excited can. of the progress of corruption in our political system, that vass for the presidency, and the eagerness with which should carry alarm into ihe bosom of every patriot in the hungry office-seekers, and other informers with whom land. What, sir! and can the money exacted from the the country is filled under this system, are looking out people for the support of Government be converted by for some delinquent to denounce to the Government, their own agents, with impunity, into a fund for their will compel them, for their own safety and protection, to own corruption? If I am mistaken as to the fact of the take an active part in elections, and to become officious existence of such a practice, I hope some gentleman will and open in their interference. Another powerful incentive to such interference will always be found under But I now proceed to notice the interference of officean administration which fills the public offices chiefly holders of a higher grade. I will first call the allention with men whose principal merit has been their zeal and of the House to the letter of the Postmaster General activity in past elections. In nine cases out of ten, hon. (Mr. Kendall] to a comminee of gentlemen in Philaest and competent public servants were removed, to delphia, writien on the 22d of October last, (1836.) make way for these new incumbents, and the latter are “ Did public duties permit an acceptance of your kind under the most powerful inducements to make a des invitation," says Mr. Kendall, “no occasion bas preperate struggle to uphold the administration or party sented itself since the late war with Great Britain on that put them in office. Hence the desperate, the death which it could have given me more gratification in festivstruggle of the office-holders in the laie election, wher-ity, gratulation, and triumph. A direct attempt has ever the contest was doubtful; and it is due to their ex been made to govern your state by corruption, and it ertions to say that they saved the election of Mr. Van bas been rebuked and repelled in a spirit worthy of '76. Buren.
It is not a triumph of one man over another; it is a vic. As to the fact of the interference of public officers in tory of principles over profligacy--the triumph of a virthe late elections, openly and directly, is there any one tuous people over concentrated wealih, mercenary tal. here who will deny it? Is there one member in this ent, and licensed corruption." House who will deny that this interference was general?
When it is recollected that this letter was written by If there is such a member present, I call upon him to a member of the executive cabinet, in reference to the stand up in his place and make the denial. Sir, I go result of a State election, which was expected, and no further, and I put the question whether the whole ma doubt did produce a decided effect upon the presidenchinery of party, so far as it was composed of caucuses, tial election, which ensued during the next month, a conventions, and committees, employed in the late elec- moré audacious and unwarranted act of interference tions, was moved and guided by office-holders and ap. cannot be readily conceived of. I hope I shall be excuplicants for office. I do not say that a majority of the sed the digression, while I remind ihe House of the statedelegates in these conventions were office holders or ments made by the gentleman from Ohio, (Mr. HAMER,] office-seekers; but I do mean to say that the exciting the other day, upon the subject of the abusive epithels, spirit, the soul of them, consisted of that class. But, for the gross charges of corruption, and violent denunciafear that I may be thought to exaggeraie, I must ask tions, which he said members of the opposition were in leave to refer to a few facts. At the convention which the habit of dealing out upon this floor against the Pres. assembled at Columbus, Ohio, on the 8th of January, ident and the party in the majority in this House. That 1834, to nominate delegates to the Baltimore convention, gentleman said that it had been too much the habit of which sat in 1835, there were thirteen postmasters, the friends of the administration to sit silent and make three registers and receivers, two light-house keepers, no reply to such tirades of abuse as were constantly protwo superintendents of the national road, one collector nounced against it. I am not one of those who are in of customs, one inspecior, one bearer of foreign des the babit of employing abusive epithets either against patches, a commissioner under the treaty with Naples, the administration or the majority of this House, in de. and four printers of the laws of the United States, be. bale; but I might appeal to the gentleman from Ohio, if sides numerous officers under the State authority; and those who do take that liberty might not find some coun. we have the authority of the gentleman from Obio (Mr. tenance in the language employed by the Pos! master HAMER) for saying that they make common cause with General in the letter to which I have referred. In what the federal officers, wherever they belong to the same speech delivered upon this floor did he ever hear stronparty. In the State convention of New York, which ger language, or more abusive epithets, applied to the sat at Albany to appoint delegates to the Baltimore con motives and principles of a party, than those deliberale. vention, there were eighteen postmasters, thirteen judgesly penned and given to the people by a cabinet officer of couris, seven masters in chancery, three sheriff's, two of the Government? But, I would further inquire of the surrogates, and a State comptroller. Among the dele gentleman from Ohio, whether he and his friends, during gates appointed to the Baltimore convention ihere were all the period of their silence and furbearance under seven postmasters, a collector of customs, and a superin- those violent and abusive denunciations of which he comtendent of the custom-house in New York. I give these plains, did not steadily look to the Globe to answer all details as a specimen of the voluminous evidence which the arguments as well as the denunciations of opposition might be adduced of the same nature. It would present members; and whether it was not found much the most a singular result if a statement were made of all the convenient as well as effective mode of reply? Does office-holders and office-seekers who attended the Balti. not that gentleman know that the columns of that paper, more convention; and the interest of the statement would during the past session as well as the present, have beer be increased if it should include an account of all those devoled to the perversion and misrepresentation of every delegates who have since received appointments. But thing that is said, as well as done, by the opposition in I have been informed of a mode of interfering in elec
this House--that its daily sheet is a daily libel upon the tions by office-holders which far outstrips all that I had motives and character of every man wbu dares to arraigi imagined could exist at this day under our free Govern the course of the party or of its favorite leaders?
Wel ment. It is alleged that the office-bolders, in some may the gentlemen of the administration be silent, whe: sections of the Union, and especially in the State of they have such a pensioned engine of falsehood and ca New York, are in the habit of contributing a portion or umny in their daily service.
JAN. 25, 1837.]
Freedom of Elections.
[H. of R.
I now come, sir, to speak of the interference, in the I might refer to the sentiment delivered by the Presilate election, of another bigh functionary of the Govern dent, at the same period, to a large assembly of his felment. It is no less a personage than the President him- low-citizens who had honored bim with a public dinner self. The President exhibited himself a devoted partiat Nashville; and to numerous letters besides, which 83n of Mr. Van Buren at an early period of the canvass. were industriously circulated, all containing evidence of The proof of his interference I consider so notorious the deep interest and the open zeal which he manifested that, but for the singular and unexpected assertions in the late election. I might refer particularly to a which I have lately heard upon the subject, I would not letter written to the late Willie Blount, which denounced think necessary to notice it. Those, sir, upon which I the course of Judge White, and bis leading friends in shall rely in establishing the first act of bis interference Tennessee, in the strongest terms; and which I am in. sre not dependent for their validity upon the uncertain formed a member of this House [Mr. Johnson, of Ten. memory of any man, nor can they be weakened or eva nessee) was in the habit of reading at public meetings ded by the denial or misrepresentation of any man's in his own canvass before the people for a seat in Con. friends. But I think proper, at this time, to state that, gress. A letter to the late B. F. Curry was of a similar if the subject shall be regarded as of sufficient impor. character; but I have already devoted more time to this tance by the House to appoint a committee with the point than I intended. The fact of the President's inproper power, all the statements of my colleague (Mr. Perference is indisputable; it was also notorious; and the PEITON) in relation to the language and denunciations knowledge of this preference bad a decided effect in of the President, while in Tennessee, last summer, with favor of Mr. Van Buren. It is true, sir, that there were out exception, so far, I believe, can be established by some minds upon which the course of the President had the evidence of gentlemen of the most unquestionable a contrary effect; but they were too few to control the character. I feel warranted in making the same state. result. The open and decided stand taken by the Presiment in relation to the charge made by a Senator from dent was a signal for the interference of all office-holders Tennessee (Judge White) in a speech at Knoxville. and office-seekers throughout the Union; and, from that The first overt act of the President, in which he gave moment, Mr. Van Buren became, emphatically and truly, evidence of his interference in the late presidential elec- the Government candidate; and, of course, had the full tion, was to dictate the Baltimore convention, and to benefit of the patronage of the Government in strengthgive the sanction of his name and station to a party move. ening his interests. ment, intended, from the first, for the benefit of Mr. But, as might have been expected, when the highest Van Buren. In his celebrated Gwion letter he says: officer of the Government stepped aside from the line of " Discarding all personal preference, I consider the lois official duties to become the electioneering partisan true policy of the friends of republican principles is to of a favorite candidate for the presidency, it was almost send delegates, fresh from the people, to a general con impossible that any appointment could be made of a vention, for the purpose of selecting candidates for the public officer, without exciting some distrust that it was presidency and vice presidency; and that to impeach intended to advance the interest of the Government canthat selection before it is made, as an emanation of Ex. didate. I consider this state of things a great calamity of ecutive power, is to assail the virtue of the people, and, itself—that the Chief Magistrale should place himself in in effect, to oppose their right to govern.
a position which afforded no escape from the imputation Here, sir, we bave a denunciation, in advance, of every of improper motives in administering the patronage of Dan wbo should dare to oppose the nomination of the the Government; and, what is equally to be regretted, it Baltimore convention. I have heard it said that this was at the same time next to an impossibility that he better was written in answer to a charge of preference could administer it without reference to the interests of for Judge White. There never was any thing more un. his own candidate. And, accordingly, it will be found
that various offices and employments have been conserIn fact, this letter was foretold, and some of the friends red under such circumstances that it is impossible to of Judge White were admonished that the President
come to any other conclusion than that they were given would take a decided and open part in the election of and received with improper motives. Str. Van Buren, before Judge white was generally re. Whether the President was privy to the object of all garded as a candidate. In a letter to a committee of these appointments
, or whether they were in all instangentlemen in Bedford county, Tennessee, while the ces bestowed through the agency of some political office President was on bis late electioneering tour, he uses broker, I know not; but the effect is the same upon the following language:
the public interests and the public virtue. However We live, fellow-citizens, in evil times, when politi- this may be, it accidentally came to my knowls dge that cal spostacy becomes frequent; when public men abar: Government favors of some kind were distinctly offered don principles, their former party attachments and asso in a letter from a person in the confiden of the Presitalions, and, for selfish ends and personal aggrandize. dent, and franked by him, to a gentleman in my own er, are attempting to undermine our republic sys- congressional district, upon the condition that he would
take a more active part in the election against Judge Here is a direct attack upon the motives of the sup White and one of his leading friends. I have seen the porters of Judge White in Tennessee-a direct charge open partisan of one candidate become the supporter of Eat they were attempting to undermine our republican another, and that other the Government candidate, and pem. That there may be no mistake as to the inten- employment under Government following in the rear of liter of the President to excite the people of Tennessee conversion. I have seen the representative seduced kanst the supporters of Judge White, as the enemies of from his constituents, and made to act in upposition to . publican government, is manifest from a par:graph their wishes and his own professed principles, by artful which appeared in the Union, the organ of the Van suggestions of future rewards. I have seen gentlemen Baren party in Tennessee, in which the editor, refer of distinction and high standing change their politics, lang to the President's letter to the Bedford committee, and violate their personal bonor, upon the promise of
executive support and influence in accomplishing their .* The President's views of the existing state of politi- plans of individual promotion. I have seen the corrupt il fairs in Tennessee are here clearly and distinctly apostate from his former principles and professions, too deared, and are so just and strictly conformable lo weak to resist the promise of office, but lacking courage wub that he who runs may read."
to pocket the well-earned reward, when offered to his
H. OF R.]
Freedom of Elections.
[Jan. 25, 1837.
acceptance. When, sir, the practice of official interfer- sions in the new world—the "imperial crown of Amerience has arrived at this height; when rewards are openly ca"-had been wrested from their King by the blunders bestowed for open apostacy and treachery to party en. of an incompetent ministry, supported by a corrupt Pare gagements; when corruption walks abroad through the liament. But the remedy came too late to prevent the land in her own nakedness, without a veil or a mantle to catastrople. It would be a singular incident in the vicover her native defrismity; when neither regard for cissitude of human affairs, if the liberties of America principle nor the honor of the country can restrain such should be lost by the same errors which afforded the oppractices, so far, at least, as to preserve the semblance portunity for their existence. of purity; when disguises are rejected as unnecessary; is I must now, sir, go a little back in the order of time, it not time to sound ihe alarm to the sleeping sentinels, to speak of the course of the English Parliament, and and call every parriot to his post?
how the spirit of Englishmen bas always treated the inLet us pause here for a moment, and inquire how this terference of any of the high grade officers of state in subject of the interference of public officers in elections elections. The first case of the kind which I have been has been regarded and provided against, in the only coun. able to find on record occurred in the reign of Queen try in which the principles of free government are cor. Anne. A bishop of Worcester, who filled at the same rectly understood and appreciated besides our own. [ time the office of almoner to the Queen, having some mean Great Britain. Ever since the revolution of 1688, ground of resentment against Sir J. Parkington, a candiwhen the English Government assumed something like a date for Parliament in the county of Worcester, wrote regular plan of civil liberty, the people of England have to several of his friends; soliciting them to oppose his been extremely jealous of the interference of public of. election. His influence was unavailing, and one of the ficers in elections. The slightest interference on their first acts of the member elected, after taking his seat in part, in the election of members of Parliament, has al. the House of Commons, was to complain of the violation ways been promptly met, complained of, and redressed of the privileges of Parliament, and the freedom of as a grievance, and a violation of the freedom of election. elections, by the bishop and almoner to the Queen. As early as the 5th William and Mary, (1694,) an act of | The House of Commons, upon hearing the proof, which Parliament was passed, which, after reciting that elec. was the production of some of the bishop's letters, intions of members of Parliament “ought to be free and stantly voted his conduct to be a violation of the liberties uncorrupt," prohibited all excise officers from endeavor of the people of England; and, at the same time, voted ing, "by word, message, or writing, or in any other that an address should be carried to the Queen, requestmanner whatsoever," to persuade any elector to give or ing her to dismiss the bishop from the office he held un. to withhold his vote in the election of any member of der her Majesty. The address was presented to the Parliament, under penally of one hundred pounds, and Queen, and she sent a gracious answer to the House of disqualification to hold any office or place of trust ever Commons, informing them that she had complied with afterwards. The act of 12 and 13 William III (1700) their desire. The next example of the manner in which contained a similar prohibition, and prescribed the same this abuse has been treated in Great Britain occurred in penalties, against the interference of all custom-house 1779, when the power and influence of the ministers of officers in elections. By the act of 10 Anne, c. 19, that day were at the highest, and the condition of Parseveral new excise duties were laid; and so tenacious liament was consequenily low indeed. A lord lieuten. was Parliament upon the subject of the influence and in. ant of a county, an officer appointed by the Crown, was terference of public officers in elections, that, by a sep. detected in writing to his friends in the county of Southarale section of the act, all the new officers created by ampton, urging them to give their support to his friend, it were prohibited from intermeddling, under the same who was also the Government candidate for Parliament. penalties provided by former acts. But when, towards When bis conduct was brought before the House of the middle of the reign of George III, it was found ihat Commons, and some of the letters which he had written the public officers and other persons in the employment exhibited, Lord North ventured to say that he thought of the Governmeni, by their own numerical force, in the case presented no great cause of alarm, and instant. bome counties and boroughs, were often able to carry 1 ly, and it would appear from all sides of the House, tl.e election of the court candidates; and that the influ. there arose such indignant clamors that it was some time ence of the Crown over them was so great that they before order could be restored, and Lord North was obligenerally voted in mass for the Government candidates, ged to explain and qualify bis meaning. But the most ihe whigs of England-the true old English whigs-- decisive proof of the spirit which prevailed upon the nade a bold rally of their strength in Parliament, and subject, even in corrupt times, and the odium in which by one act (22 George III, 41, 1782) disfranchised all intermeddling of office-holders in elections has ever every officer employed in the customs, in the collection been held in Great Britain, is to be found in the following and management of the excise duties, and in the post resolution, which the House of Commons adopted upon oslice--forly thousand in number. A glorious triumph that occasion, without a division, and without a dissent. for Englishmen and English lberly! This act, which ing voice: slands a glorious monument of the spirit of Englishmen, * That it is bighly criminal for any minister or minis. is entitled "An act for the better securing the freedom of ters, or any o her servant of the Crown, in Great Britain, elections of members to serve in Parliament." It was at directly or indirectly, to make use of the power of his this period that the celebrated Mr. Dunning introduced office in order to influence the election of members of and carried the resolution in Parliament, that "the in. Parliament; and that an attempt to exercise that ipfiu. fluence of the Crown had increased, was increasing, and ence was an attack upon the dignity, the honor, and we ought to be diminished.” The first measure which fols independence, of Parliament, an infringement of the lowed was to deprive forty thousand office-holders of rights and liberties of the people, and an attempt to sap their right to vote in elections! The subserviency of the basis of our free and happy constitution.” Parliament to the will of the Crown had been too gross Sr, this resolution has been regarded, ever since, as and palpable to be longer endured. The ministry had expressing the true principles of the constitution o carried every measure by a dead, invariable majority, England." In every debate which has arisen since 1779 just as we have of late seen measures carried through it is referred to as a standard authority. And, upon ih The Congress of the United States. This great measure subject of official intermeddling in elections, let it be re of reform was justified and sustained by the English peo membered, to the eternal honor of Englishmen, that n. pk, under the fim conviction that their proudest posses party, that'no member of any party in that country, how
thetructing the operation of the State Governments.
Jax. 25, 1837.]
(H. OF R. ever weak, or however debased by corruption, has ever smothered by the enormous patronage of the General dared to question the soundness of the principles of the Government. How far it may be practicable, prudent, resolution of 1779.
or proper, to look back, is too great a question to be In this review of the course of British legislation in se. decided by the united wisdom of the whole administracuring the freedom of elections, I must not omit to notice lion when formed." the act of 49 George III, c. 118, (1809.) Notwitstand. After Mr. Jefferson was made President, he took ing the numerous legal provisions which had been adopt. steps immediately, in compliance with his pledge to ed to secure the purity and freedom of elections, it was Governor McKean, upon the subject of the future internotorious thal members of Parliament were often relurn ference of public officers in elections; and the circued through the influence of ministers, in giving or prom lar which I hold in my hand, and which I ask leave to ising offices and employments to infuential "persons in read to the House, appears to have been issued by his the several counties and boroughs of the kingdom enti- order, to regulate the conduct of all in authority under Hed to send members to Parliament. To reform this him. abose
, Mr. Curwan brought forward a bill prescribing a “ The President of the United Stales has seen, with penally of five hundred pounds, and forfeiture of office, dissatisfaction, officers of the General Government taBainst every person who should be found guilty of sell king, on various occasione, active parts in elections of ing his influence in an election, and a penalty of one the public functionaries, whether of the General or of thousand pounds against any person holding an office the State Governments. Freedom of election eing under the King, who should be guilty of giving any of essential to the mutual independence of Governments, fice, place, or employment, to any
person, upon any con and of the different branches of the same Government tract or agreement that they should exert their influence so vitally cherished by most of our constituents, it is in the election of any member of Parliament; but the deemed improper for officers depending on the Execuministry had the address to get it so amended that no of- tive of the Union to attempt to control or influence the ficer of the Crown could be punished for such an act of free exercise of the elective right. This I am instructed, corruption, unless the contract upon which the office therefore, to notify to all officers within my department, was given was expres. This amendment defeated the holding their appointments under the authority of the Salwary design of the bill in a great measure; but still, President direcily, and to desire them to notify to all in the shape in which it passed, it attests, by its pream- subordinate to them. The right of any officer to give ble as well as by the manifest spirit of the act, the senti- bis vore at elections, as a qualified citizen, is not meant ments of the English people in relation to this subject. to be restrained, nor, however given, shall it have any The preamble recites that all “such gifts and promises effect to his prejudice; but it is expected that he will of otice are contrary to the usage, right, and freedom not attempt to influence the votes of others, nor take of elections, and contrary to the laws and constitution of any part in the business of electioneering, that being the realm."
deemed inconsistent with the spirit of the constitution, These are some of the securities which the wisdom of and his duties to it.” Englishmen has provided for the preservation of the It seems that Mr. Jefferson did not think it expedient freedom of elections; these are some of the bulwarks to remove all public officers who had intermeddled in which the spirit and sagacity of that renowned people elections before he came into power; but he took care lave created to defend their liberties, and to operate as to prescribe a rule for the future, which would leave no barriers against the inroads of arbitrary power.
ground of complaint for any removal from office for any Let us nest see what we have done to secure the puri act of subsequent interference in elections.
The genly and freedom of elections-to guard and preserve our tleman from Ohio (Mr. HAMER) claimed to act with a berties. All that we have done presents but a barren party which practised upon Jefferson's principles. I call atalogue. The constitution contains the only provision upon him and his friends now to confirm what they say wearing upon this subject to be found in our stalute by their example, and turn out every man in office in borska But
, sir, we have had the most salutary doctrines ine United States who interfered in the late election. laid down by some of our most distinguished and vener Sir, it is due to principle—the purity and freedom of ated statesmen; and it will be our own fault if we do not elections demand this course it is due to consistency, carry them into execution by prompt and effective legis among those who call themselves republicans and fol. bution. I have already referred to the authority of Mr. lowers of Jefferson. It is due to the cause of liberty Madison and Mr. Jefferson, upon the subject of removals and free government
, that every public officer who has from office for opinion's sake. Upon the subject of the dared to interfere in any election, State or National, sterference of public officers in elections, Mr. Jefferson should be made an example of in all time to come. But, kif possible, still more explicit and satisfactory. I beg sir, this is the business and duty of the Executive, so far bere to read an extract from his letter to Governor Mc. as the past is concerned. Kean, of Pennsylvania, in 1801, upon this subject; writ What I propose that Congress should do, is simply to
it appears, while the election between bim and declare the removal of any public officer, upon political Colonel Burr was still pending in the House of Repre. grounds, and for opinion's sake, to be a high misde.
meanor, and leave the punishment to be applied by im. The event of the election is still in dubio. A strong peachment, or by the action of public sentiment at the pation in the House of Representatives will prevent an ballot-box, as heretofore. I propose to leave the power
I rather believe they will not be of removal in the President, as it is now, believing that as there are six individuals of moderate any attempt to limit it would be injudicious. But we are aracter, any one of whom, coming over to the repub. under no such restraint in providing an adequate pen. Lean vaste, will make a ninth State. Till this is known, alty against all public officers who interfere in elections,
is too soon for me to say what should be done in such excepi to cast their votes; nor is there any reason why Arecious cases as those you mention, of federal officers we should not declare any gift, or promise of any office
or place under the Government, as the consideration of hietbing
I will say, that, as to the future, interference service in an election, to be bribery, and to punish such Fth elections, whether of the State or General Govern. offences for the fu'ure in a manner proportionate to their tena, by the officers of the latter, should be deemed enormity. Until the National Legislature shall take this
of removal; because the constitutional remedy by subject up, and act upon i', experience has shown that Pelective principle becomes nothing, if it may be we have no security for the purity or the freedom of
Election if they can. ible to do it,
H. OF R.)
Freedom of Elections.
[Jan. 25, 1837.
elections none for the protection of our free institu. It is an old maxim that money is power. Patronage is tions. The only popular objection to the principles of even more powerful than'money; for patronage is mo. the bill which I propose to enact into a law, is the prin.ney, and more. It bestows honor, rank, and consideraciple of rotation in office. Whatever objections exist to tion, along with money-it gratfies every passion of tbe the adoption of that principle, (and they are very serious human heart. It is the most successful instrument of and imporiant,) still I infinitely prefer the adoption of power ever employed by artful and ambitious men in a it, according to the views recently expressed by some of State. It is, of itself, sufficient to overturn and revoluthe people of good old republican Pennsylvania, than tionize Governments it is able to neutralize all forms, the present practice of the Government. If we can and to consolidate all actual power in the hands of the agree upon no remedy for present abuses, let iis adopt possessor. Let us see what has been said upon this sub& uniform rule, at least, and let all officers go out at the ject by one of the most acute and able writers upon this end of four or eight years. Now, sir, when the Presi. or any other subject; and one, too, who was no enemy dent or any head of a department wishes to remove a to a strong Government. I allude to Dr. Paley. In his meritorious' officer, of offensive politics, in order to make chapter upon political philosophy, and in giving his way for some favorite partisan, he may cite the popular views upon the British constitution, he lays it down that, principle of rotation in office to support bis conduct; but “When the constitution conferred upon the Crown still the great mass of tractable and obedient office hold the nomination to all employments in public service, the ers, who are ready to become the creatures of executive authors of this arrangement were led to it by the obvious wil', are permitted to remain in office for life, in de fio propriety of leaving to a master the choice of his serance of the salutary and popular pr neiple of rotation in vants; and by the manifest inconveniency of engaging office. The rule, sir, should work both ways, or be dis the national council, upon every vacancy, in those per. carded aliogether.
sonal contests which aitend elections to places of honor Mr. Speaker, experience, I think, has conclusively and emolument. Our ancestors did not observe that this demonstrated, of late, that patronage is the vice, and is disposition added an influence to the regal office, which, likely to be the euthanasy of our political system. The when the number and value of public employmenis inVirginia objectors to the constitution were mistaken. It creasech, would supersede, in a great measure, the forms, is not the great powers of peace and war, of the purse and change the character, of the ancient constitution. and of the sword, vested in the Federal Government, They knew not, what the experience and reflection of which are most to be feared; nor is it so much the sg. modern ages bas discovered that patronage is, univer: gregate amount of patronage within the control of the sally, power; that he who possesses, in a sufficient de. Government, as it is the want of proper legal limitations gree, ihe means of gratifying the desires of mankind and restrictions upon the use of it in the hands of the after wealth and distinction, by whatever checks and Esecu:ive, which is to be dreaded and guarded against. forms his authority may be limited or disguised, will diAll other dangers in the operation of the Government rect the management of public affairs. Whatever be will wear out by time, and are of small moment in com. the mechanism of the political engine, he will guide the parison with this of patronage.
motion." Let it be understood that I do not propose to divest Sir, these are the maxims of wisdom and experience. the President of one particle of the patronage which the We have seen that the King of Great Britain, even since constitution has conferred upon him, in giving him the the revolution of 1688, has, by the sole power of patronpower of nominating to all the important offices; nor do age, been able several times to annibilate the independi wish to deprive the Executive of that due and proper ence of Parliament, and to rule with absolute sway. influence over the public councils and people of ihe flow the spirit of Englishmen bas as often broke the country which the legitimate exercise of it naturally | power of corruption and re-established the Government brings to bim. The legitimate exercise of the patronage upon its free foundation, we have already seen. Sir, vested in the President insures to him a vast influence human nature is the same in this new world that it in the country, sufficient of itself to keep alive the jeal. is in the old. Patronage is the same in its power to ousies and vigilance of a free people. The power of seduce and its liability to abuse; and the same jealous no ninaling to all new offices-to fill all accruing vacan. vigilance is demanded in this country to prevent the cies, by death, resignation, or removal for unfitness--the consolidation of all power in the bands of ihe Execupower of appointing all the heads of the executive de- tive. partments, all foreign ministers, and the judges of the The abuse of patronage, Mr. Speaker, and every othSupreme and other courts of the United Statesma vast er incidental evil of which I complain, it was supposed power of itself, and operating directly upon the highest by our ancestors, when they framed and adopted the talent and ambition in the country; beside these, the constitution, would no sooner become known than they power of promotion in the army and navy, and the pat. would be redressed by the ballot-box-the panacea oi ronage of the Military Academy, exclusive of the other the constitution; but, sir, in the language of Mr. Jeffergreat branches of the public service, would of them. son, the constitutional remedy by the elective princi: selves, when exercised with an eye single to the interest | ple” bas “become nothing, because it is smollered of the country, as it should be, constitute an aggregate by the enormous patronage of the General Govern influence great enough to be trusted in the hands of any ment." It is to me, sir, matler of real wonder and
To this measure of influence, and more, the amazement that a degree of abuse in the administration President is entitled. The constitution bestows it, and of the patronage of the Government should excite no I seek not to deprive bim of it. But, sir, this vast power particular alarm at this day, which, but eight years ago was a necessary deposite for the public goud; and not would have caused such a commotion in the land as mus the smallest portion of it was given for the personal grat. | inevitably have terminated in revolution, if no othe ification, or to advance the private interests or wishes, remedy could have been applied. Undoubtedly, man: of the President. It was a sacred trust, to be adminis. causes peculiar to the times have combined to produci tered according to the spirit and intention of the great this extraordinary resul!--the unrivalled popularity o deed by which it was vested. The trustees bave, in my the President-the blunder of opposition in relation opinion, abused this trust; they have converted the pub- nullification and the United States Bank; but the mos lic estate to their own private uses; they have caused the subtle, powerful, and successful element of evil has bee public service to be regarded ag subordinate to private the introduction of the spoils principle, as an avowed an interest and ambition.
defensible incentive to parly association and pariy ses