Imagens das páginas
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

How know there was not a quorum before a count? I have now, sir, given you the facts upon the journal; Sir, it was notorious there was a quorum; it was known but there are other important facts--facts unwritten, as to every man. I would say, if there was one, there were well as facts written. Out with them! Come, rise in one hundred and fifty members at least in the House your high places all, here and elsewhere, and tell the when that report was made. They were in that lobby; truth, the whole truth. Sir, it is said that bill failed they were skulking in every direction, and refused to in the House. That is not true. It failed before it got vote. They knew their own motives. I will not dive to the House from the conference room. It dropped into their hearts, but such is the fact!

like a spent ball before it quite got here; it dropped After the yeas and Days on adjournment, we received near that door. Sir, there are two statements about the another message from the Senate, by Mr. Lowrie: matter; they may be conjectural; I cannot vouch for them.

“Mr. Speaker, I am directed to inform the House of I mean to put interrogatories. I put it to the gentleman, Representatives that the Senate has finished the legis- (Mr. CAMBRFLENG,] Did no ic busybody" whisper lative business before it, and is ready to adjourn." aught in his ear as he was on his way to report to the

Now, sir, no man will accuse me of being the advo-. House? Did no one tempt him, as he passed, to stran. cate or the apologist of the Senate. But “ give the gle the bantling under his care? Was there no magician d his due." Let the truth be told-acquit whom near!. No d l and his imps! And, if this may be it may--injure whom it may. This message can be denied, I put it to the honorable chairman of the comconsidered in no other light than another respectful in-mittee of conference, (Mr. C.,) if no member of the timation to the House to act on the fortification bill. committee received a billetdoux after he resumed his So I considered it at the time. The Senate could not seat? Did the honorable chairman, after he left the with propriety have renewed the first message, without conference room, not intend to make the report! Did seeming to arrogate the prerogative of dictating to the he not, after he returned to the House with it, inform House, or without seeming to be guilty of the insolence a gentleman from Tennessee, (Mr. FORESTER,] though it which was charged upon the first message by the gen- was then after twelve o'clock at night, that he intended tleman from Massachusetts, (Mr. Adams. They there to make the report? Did he not sit down by a gentleman fore said, “ the Senate has finished the legislative bu- from Ohio, (Mr. WHITTLESEY,) and give him to undersiness before it!” And was this not the fact? Was the stand, with the report on the desk before him, that the fortification bill there! No, sir! it was here, in this report was to be made? Why did that intention fail? House, and here unacted on! Yes, sir, notwithstanding | What prevented? Sir, there were spirits haunting the this bill was still unacted on in the House, Mr. F.0.J. Capitol that “awfu' night”- there were strange whis. Smith, of Maine, one of the “ faithful,” offered a reso-pering-chattering ells--ghosts, as I am told I did not lution, “that a committee be appointed to wait on the see them--blue devils and imps! Is it true? Was President, and to notify him that, unless he may have there any dealing with the “infernals" that night? further communications to make, the two Houses of Tell us, I pray, tell us, and let the curse fall on the necCongress, having completed the business before them, romancers--not on the victims of the horrid spell! are ready to close the present session. Although this. (Mr. CAMBRELENG. I can tell you.] was admitting that the session had not closed, yet, was Mr. W1SE. Ay, you can tell us, can you? There is it true that both Houses had completed the business be another more important fact, which must come out. fore them! Had the House of Representatives acted Out with it all, say I. You, Mr. Speaker, ay, you, sir, on and completed the fortification bill which was before are deeply concerned in that matter; deny it if you can. it? It had not. The Senate had completed its business; Before I disclose that faat, I must premise that I voted the House had not.

for the three millions amendment. There were 109 The House again proceeded to take up the Letcher votes for it, the name of John Quincy Adams first, and resolution. There was no quorum answering, though my name last, on the list of yeas. I was held to a strict one present. Mr. Smith then moved a message, to no- accountability for that vote by my constituents, with tify the Senate that the House “had completed the bu- whom I have settled it, as a gentleman whom I now see siness before it," whilst the fortification bill was still (Mr. TYLER] can attest, for I believe he heard my unacted on, and after the two messages from the Senate reasons and my apologies before the people. Sir, I directing our attention, requesting our attention, to it! have now to say that, under the impressions of that Pending this motion and the call of the House, Mr. amendment at the time I gave that vote, I would give Mason moved to adjourn, because the Senate had ad- the same vote again, with the same information I then journed, and his motion passed in the affirmative, without possessed. And here, be it known, by the way, in even the usual interchange of courtesy between the two justice to the gentleman from New York, [Mr. CAMHouses and the other branch of the Government. Such BRELENG,] that he did notify me personally in that was the termintion of the last Congress; and I do say, lobby--I do not know that he notified the House--one sir, it was one of the most disgraceful scenes I ever wit. or two days before the 3d of March, I believenessed; it was unbecoming barbarians and savages, | [Here Mr. C. said he notified the House the day be. much more the representatives of a civilized nation! fore, when he withdrew the resolution for contingent Sleepy, tired, drunk!

preparation for war.] Mr. BYNUM. Is the gentleman in order when speak. Mr. WISE. Of that I am not certain; but the gentleing thus of the last Congress!

man did notify me, personally, perhaps the day before Mr. WISE. I do not pretend to say, Mr. Speaker, it was offered, that he intended to offer that amendthat all Congress was drunk, or that one half, one ment, and asked if I would vote for it. I replied that, third, or one tenth of the members were drunk; but I without reference to a state of war, for a peace establishknow that some were drunk; that I was not of the num- ment alone, I would vote for thrice three millions, for ber; and so it was, that what with manoeuvring, being the purpose of putting our navy in respectable trim, tired, opposed to some measures, sleepy, drowsy, and and to repair and complete our fortifications. But no drunk, no quorum could be had unless it had suited cer one notified me, no one informed me or the House, in tain individuals.

my hearing, that the President recommended that adMr. LANE said he should like to hear the names of ditional appropriation, or that “it was in accordance" those who were drunk.

even “ with the views of the Executive!” I had suffi. Mr. WISE. The gentleman might feel unhappy, cient information of my own, without the views of the sir, if I were to mention names.

| Esecutive, to convince me of the necessity of a large VOL. XII.-144

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

appropriation for means of national defence. I knew department, it would take twenty years, at the present that our navy and fortifications were in a most lamenta- rate of appropriation, one hundred thousand dollars ble and disgraceful condition-disgraceful to a nation only per annum, or, in other words, a present approlike this-disgraceful to the Departments which have priation of two millions of dollars, for armament of fortheir care and superintendence! I knew that, notwith- tifications alone! I knew we had but three safe foundries standing our commerce floats and needs protection in in the entire eastern section of the country, at which every sea, notwithstanding the navy was a popular ordnance can be cast. I knew that casting of ordnance favorite, notwithstanding more than sixty-five millions was no light job, and two millions worth was not to be had been expended on a navy since the last war, we had | cast in a day. I knew that from Florida to Maine there but one ship of the line in commission on the ocean! was not a single fort which could mount twenty guns. We have but one now.

I knew that there were no gun carriages. Witness Fort I knew that several new ships, which had never been Washington, the guard of the pass to this Capitol, which in service, were rotten and decayed. I knew that some has once been burnt, has not a gun on its ramparts. were rotten on the stocks for want of care. I knew | And, in addition to all this, I knew that a French ministhat the naval architecture which has lately been in- ter (General Bernard) knows our condition of defence troduced by the board of navy commissioners. was a better than we do, for he has been our chief engineer! disgrace to the arts in this country. I knew that to put Such I know to be our condition, and such I know to be crews on board several of our sloops of war, the Warren, our condition now, though year after year, every year Lexington, and Natchez, for instance, was to send them the false cry has been heard from the watch-towers, to a prison-ship; that the vessels could not sail fast enough “all's well!" Every session of Congress, every return to overtake any thing they could whip, and could not of the session, have we been most graciously greeted get out of the way of any thing that could whip them. with the formal and fashionable congratulations and I knew that the projectors were ashamed of their own felicitations on the happy and unparalleled present conexperiment. I knew that immense sums of money had dition and the prospects of the future prosperity of our been thrown into mud and water upon certain “water country. And, Mr. Speaker, here we are! caught naked, halls." I knew that certain grand improvements upon defenceless, unprepared, and unpreparing for defence, our guns, reducing their weight from that well-known with our hands in the lion's mouth! Let those who standard of experience and science, 200 pounds of metal have all the time had all this information, and who have to the pound of ball-the chimera of medium guns*--had all the day been standing idle, recommending nothing, ruined, in a great measure, our naval ordnance. I got reporting nothing, advising nothing, no! not until this the report of the inspector of naval ordnance into the very moment, bear the blame; I, and those with whom House the very last night of the session, through my fact, are innocent. friend the honorable William Cost Johnson, who made Sir, I say I knew that, with all this immense want of the report on establishing a national foundry. That appropriation, three millions would be but as a drop in report had been made to the board of navy commission- the bucket for either of the objects-fortifications, ord. ers for more than twelve months, and had never been nance, or increase of the navy. Knowing this, I voted communicated to Congress, because, I presume, it ex. for that amendment. Not with reference to war; for, posed some of the chimeras of the Department, and not more than twenty-four hours before, the gentleman shows how the sixty-five millions have, in part, been from New York (Mr. CAMBRELENG] had withdrawn his expended. From that report I knew that about 750 of resolution to make contingent preparation for war, the guns of the navy were unfit for service, and they though that gentleman proposed the three millions are now, many of them, on board your vessels of war. | amendment, and now assigns the necessity at the time The men are afraid of them. I knew it would take of preparing for war as the reason! The gentleman from six to twelve months to get our ships and vessels from Massachusetts [Mr. ADAMS] withdrew a similar of war in ordinary afloat. Concerning the War De resolution, and voted the very next day for this amend. partment, I knew that scarcely one of the old fortifica ment; and now tells us that the “next step for those tions, which were left dilapidated by the last war, was who voted against that amendment was to join the enein a state of repair. Witness the facts exposed during my!” After the withdrawal of that resolution upon the debate that very last night of the session in relation French affairs, but the day before, by the chairman of to Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, and the works on the the Committee on Foreign Affairs, could I, could any Gulf of Mexico! I knew that, notwithstanding more not initiated, doubt that these three millions were not than twenty-six millions had been expended on building, proposed for war? I voted for the amendment for reaor rather on commencing to build, fortifications since sons of peace, not of war. I thought it the best way 1820, not one scarcely of our new fortifications was to keep peace to be in a state of readiness for war, and completed. I say “commencing to build,” because the that sound economy as well as policy required the ap. system has not been one of defence; it has been one of propriation. For the reasons i have given, I wanted electioneering to scatter Government patronage! Instead | no estimates, no more data than I had already. of completing those commenced before others are begun, But, sir, many gentlemen had not then this informaas many congressional districts as possible are given a tion-the estimates, the data. No information, no esti. taste of Treasury pap, and the works begun and incom- mates, no data, were furnished by the Departments, or plete are left to the necessary injury of delay, and to by the committees. There was time enough for the es. the tender mercy of any enemy who may choose to cap. timates to have been furnished; for I tell you that notice ture them. Your own forts are now exactly in the con- was given to me personally, beforehand, and it must dition either to be blown up, or to be turned upon your have been in contemplation, before notice, that this 'selves. Witness Old Point Comfort and the Rip Kaps! | amendment was to be offered; and the gentleman from I knew, sir, that, with the most extended coast of any New York (Mr. CAMBRELENG] shall not claim to have people on the face of the earth, on the gulf, on the given notice, and still urge that there was not time for Atlantic, and on the lakes, to be defended, we had not the data to be furnished. Indeed, all the time his resa fort in readiness for any emergency, near or afar off.olution was pending to make contingent preparation for I knew, according to information from the ordnance war, these data and estimates should have been pre

pared; they should always be ready. But no informa• These guns, I am told, were ordered in 1826.-Note tion of the kind was furnished those even who might by Mr. W.

I have been willing to yote upon faith in the President.

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

The faith of some was monstrous strong!-did not know The CHAIR said he considered the whole proceeding that he wished such an appropriation, or even that he out of order; but, as he had been personally alluded to, thought it proper. Why, sir, when I returned home, he bad not arrested it, and that it would afford bim sin. and was accused by my opponents of voting the Presi. cere pleasure if the House would permit him to make a dent three millions of dollars, I honestly and sincerely statement. told my friends that the President never called for the No objection being made, appropriation, and I presumed he must have thought it The SPEAKER (the House having given its permisunnecessary, or he would, as in duly bound, have cer- sion, and many members expressing a desire that he tainly recommended it by message, or through some should do so) said that the Chair took great pleasure in Department. Never, until I saw his message to this stating to the House that, upon that occasion, he bad felt Congress, did I know that amendment was “ in accord- great solicitude for the safety of the appropriation bills ance with the views of the Executive. And, sir, I ven- which had not been acted on; perhaps the more solici. ture to say that a large majority of the last Congress tude, from the position he at that time had the bonor to were as ignorant as I was of any such “ views of the occupy in the House, as chairman of the Committee of Executive." I can prove here on the spot, by a mem- | Ways and Means. Having, as he had, charge of some ber of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, (Mr. Peyton,] l of these bills, and feeling that some responsibility dethat he was totally ignorant of “the views of tbe Execa volved upon bim, his attention had been closely directed utive," or of any information from the Departments into them.' He did remember, upon that occasion, when relation to tbis three million amendment.

the three millions appropriation was moved, that, in a But, sir, I now know, by evidence newly discovered, casual conversation, two members of the House, two of that some few did know that the President did desire his own colleagues from Tennessee, who were also memthis appropriation of three millions; that they, though bers of the present House, and who at that time occuchairmen of the principal committees, never communi- pied seats immediately in his rear, asked him some quescated it to their committees, much less to the House; tion in relation to that appropriation, and that he replied that they whispered it to a few others, and told them that he thought it a proper appropriation, and one that “not to say any thing about it." You, Mr. Speaker, | ought to pass. He had, he said, no recollection of the you, I charge with the guilt of that fact! You may precise language he made use of, but he had said, in deny it in your place, or not. If you do deny it, I am answer to the inquiry of his colleague, substantially, that ready, with a witness, to prove that

he thought the appropriation proper, that the Executive [Here Mr. WISE read a written statement, given to had been consulted, and that it met the Executive's him by the honorable Luke Lea, of Tennessee, corrob. wishes, or something to that effect. As chairman of orated by the statement of the honorable Samuel Bunch, the Committee of Ways and Means, inquiries had often of Tennessee, in the following words:

been made of him in conversation, by members of the “On the last night of the last session of Congress, House, in relation to different appropriations; and he pending the question of the three million appropria- had always given the information in his possession, as he tion, two of the members of that Congress hesitated as had in this instance. to the propriety of voting for said appropriation, when The Chair would then state what he had not perhaps one of them proposed to the other that he would make thought it necessary, at that time, to be stated to the inquiry of one of the members of the Committee of House, and it was this: that he had conferred with the Ways and Means, who sat near them, whether this ap- chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and with propriation had been asked for by the President; which some members of the Executive, upon the subject of he did, and received for answer, that the committee had this appropriation. As chairman of the Committee of been asked for it, or it had been intimated to them that | Ways and Means, it was his duty, if a heavy appropria. he desired it, but that you need not say any thing about tion was proposed, to ascertain, and be able to give the it; which answer was immediately communicated to the information to the House, if it was required, whether other member. It was then agreed upon between the the Treasury was in a condition to bear it. He had members, that, as the money was not to be used ex. always felt it to be his duty, whilst chairman of that cept for the purposes specified, and not until the con- committee, to consult different members of the Executingency should happen to make it necessary, they tive branches of the Government, when he thought it would vote for the amendment.”]

necessary to obtain information in regard to all appropriaSir, I charge you with being that member whom tions for the public service. And when the question [Loud cries of “order! order!"]

was asked of him by his colleagues, in regard to this ap. Mr. WISE. The chairman of the Committee of Ways propriation, the individual now occupying the chair had and Means, (Mr. Polk,] it is said, gave this answer. Is answered, in substance, that he thought the appropriait true? Yes or no! Guilty or not guilty?

tion altogether proper, and that it met the approbation The CHAIR. If it is desired that I should make any of the Executive." He did not remember adding any statement of any fact in my knowledge, I am ready to thing of the purport stated by the gentleman from Virmake it.

ginia, though he may have done so, and would not say [Cries of “no! no!" from Mr. Polk's own friends.] he had not; though, if he had, it had escaped his recol.

Mr. MERCER considered the call upon the Speaker, / lection. as such, to be out of order; but the call upon him, as a The Chair would respectfully remark that he was member of the last House, in order.

really unable to conceive how this could be a matter of Mr. WISE. I call upon the chairman of the Commit. any sort of importance. If it bad an important bearing, tee of Ways and Means of the last Congress.

he was at a loss to perceive it. The Chair felt a deep The CHAIR said, if the House wished it, or would sense of obligation to the House for the opportunity permit it, he would make a brief statement. [Cries of offered bim of giving this brief statement. * no! no!" from some of his own friends, and of | If the House would permit him, he would add a single "agreed! agreed!” from all quarters. ]

suggestion. It must be evident that the debate which Mr. ADAMS here attempted to get an explanation. had sprung up that day had given rise to great excite

Mr. MERCER hoped the House would yield its unani- ment and feeling, and would require great forbearance, mous consent to the explanation of the Speaker.

on the part of the House and the Chair, to enable him Mr. VINTON wished to know if the Speaker himself to preserve order. He would repeat to the gentleman desired to explain: because, if not, he should object to it. I from Virginia that, in reminding him, a few moments

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

ago, that it was against order to refer to honorable mem-atives; but whispered it, as a secret, to a few members bers of the last Congress who were also members of the in their seats, desiring them to say nothing about the present House, and in their seats, by their names, it was fact that such was the desire of the President! far from the intention of the Chair to interfere with any I call upon this House and this nation to witness this of the rights of the gentleman from Virginia, and would fact, stated, proved, and not here denied, but admitted, exceedingly regret to interfere with the rights of any | Here (striking his breast) is the accuser; there (pointing at member upon the floor. The Chair thought it out of the Speaker) and there (pointing at Mr. CAMBRELENG) order, and supposed such a course of debate, if suffered are the accused! There are others (signifying Mr. V. B. to proceed, was likely to produce excitement and cold and Mr. F.) who may be the guiltiest of the gang. The lision, and he had therefore wished to arrest it. He felt people are our judges; they are now sitting, and will assured that the gentleman from Virginia, and every judge righteously. other member, would see the necessity of such a course, Why, sir, appoint a committee? The investigation is and would sustain the Chair in his efforts to preserve already made; here is the record evidence, (holding up the order and harmony of the proceedings of the House. | the journal,) there are the oral witnesses, (pointing to

Mr. LEA, of Tennessee, then rose, and confirmed the Messrs. Lxa and Bunch;) and the truth necessary for a statement which he had given Mr. Wise in writing, and | verdict and conviction, to the mind of any honest, imparwhich the Speaker (Mr. POLK) admitted to be true. tial man, is already out. There is no necessity for the

Mr. WISE. Sir, permit me to say that I truly and sin-appointment of the committee asked for. The material cerely sympathize with the situation of the Chair. I facts, or some of them, are already before the House, know its embarrassments, and I shall at all times be and all of them, if I can bring them out, shall be before ready to sustain its efforts to preserve order.

us here; and here, before the eyes of the world, they But to proceed. And this, Mr. Speaker, is not an im should be divulged. Sir, if a committee is appointed, it portant fact! What, sir! the chairman of the Commit. will be a "stocked pack." I will not consent to play tee of Ways and Means know the fact that the President with such cards! If a committee be appointed, there desires an appropriation of three millions of dollars, not will certainly--we have got to that pass--be two reports, communicate it to his committee or to the House, and, conflicting and diametrically opposite. No matter where wbilst endeavoring to get it through, and obtain votes for truth, where justice lies, 1 say we know beforehand its passage, to whisper the President's will to a few mem there will certainly be two reports. Committees are bers in their seats--to be kept a secret!!! Great God, more used now-a-days to gloss over than to probe corsir, and this in these days, in the green ree, is not a mal ruption. I have but little confidence in them. If they ter of importance. I wish not to deal with this fact until cannot report favorably to the party," they will never I have a fair opportunity.

report at all! Why appoint a committee, when here it Mr. PEYTON bere moved an adjournment; which has been charged, face to face, and fully proved, that was carried.

the fortification bill of the last session was lost by the On the following day Mr. WISE resumed his remarks, manoeuvring, with others, of a gentleman whose name as follows:

reads in the journal--Churchill C. Cambreleng! When * Mr. Speaker, before I proceed with my remarks of here it has been charged, and not denied--ay, if denied, yesterday, permit me to say, the reflections of the past fully proved-that the chairman of the Committee of night have admonished me that a most serious, solemn, Ways and Means, (James K. POLK, ) knowing the views and delicate duty has accidentally, on the occasion of of the Executive, but never communicating them to ibis debate, devolved upon me, and upon all in this committee, or House, did go round privately among House who are disposed, without fear, favor, or affec. | members, and tell such as were friendly to the Presition, to do their duty to their country and its sacred in- dent that he wanted the grant of three millions, but not stitutions. I lament, sir, sincerely lament, for the sake to say any thing about it! What need, then, I repeat, of all that is dear to us, that the corruption-corruption, of a committee to ascertain what is already known? sir, is the word-of the times does exist; but it is too These facts have come out, and more must follow. Let true, it is engendered, it is sneaking through every ave- them follow, one after another, in review here in this nue almost of the public service, it is undermining the hall, and, if you are honest, you will gaze on the proconstitution and the safety of the free Government which cession with indignation and alarm! No plastering comwe derived from our fathers, and I glory in dragging mittee in a shut chamber! Let the naked truth stand it out from the darkness which it loves, and in exposing up here, to confront men in high places, no matter who its "hideous front" in the full light of truth, to the as they may be, charged with fraud and corruption. tonished gaze of the honest and unsuspecting people of I will never examine this subject any where else . this nation! I will then leave the correction of it to than in this House. And how was that three million them. They can create, and they can destroy. It is amendment proposed? Sir, although it was apparently one of their virtuest hat their confidence in those whom brought upon us suddenly, in the last hour of our exthey have trusted is not easily to be shaken; but when istence, and although the House had no notice of it, at once deceived, once betrayed, their vengeance, their all events, not until the day before, yet now, it seems condign punishment is awful! I know they are honest, that it had been for some time thought of in another and will not tolerate corruption.

quarter; that it was “in accordance with the views of Sir, before I closed on the past evening, we bad arri- the Executive;" that these views had been communi. ved at one most important fact, which the journal does cated to the chairman of the Committee of Ways and not record, which was not before known, which I would Means, (Mr. POLK,) and to the chairman of the Commit. that the history of my country in its very infancy had tee on Foreign Affairs, Mr. CAMBRELENG,) who comnot to record, and which I must say bas produced a municated them secretly to a few others. There was most--distinguished anxiety.

time then, sir, for all the estimates to be furnished. I We have arrived at the solemn fact--half admitted know, and the gentleman (Mr. C.) will bear me witness, and fully proved that, at the last session, the chairman that he gave me notice, personally, some days before of the Committee of Ways and Means (Mr. POLK) was the 3d of March, that he intended to move an amend. informed and knew that the President of the United ment for three millions, though I had no notice of its form, States desired an appropriation of three millions of dol. and much less had I notice that it was “in accordance Jars for military and naval service; that he never commu. I even with the views of the Executive." I pledged mynicated it to his committee or to the House of Represent. self to vote for it, from the information I possessed in

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

relation to our defenceless condition. A day, a single clearly excused myself for the vote I gave on this amendday, was sufficient time to furnish the estimates, from ment; but late information, such as I have discovered the numerous facts which lie in the way of every body, and exposed to the House, makes it necessary for me to and especially for the Departments, which should always say I will swear on the holy evangelists that I never be ready with all information as to the condition of the heard one word about the views of the Executive in recountry. It was known to you, Mr. Speaker, that the lation to this three million appropriation until the mesPresident thought this a proper and necessary appro- sage of the President to this Congress; and never did I priation, and that he desired it to be made. Why was know that the views of the Executive were kept secret this not made known officially to the committee and to until I obtained the written statement from my friend the House? Why did not the President “give to Con- from Tennessee, [Mr. LEA,] which I got from him gress" this information, “and recommend to their con- within the last forty-eight hours! I knew a day or so sideration" this measure, which he judged “necessary beforehand that such a proposition would be made, but and expedient?"

I thought it would be made and was made on the Sir, it is made the imperative duty of the President of responsibility of the chairman of the Committee on Forthe United States by the constitution: “ He shall, (read- eign Affairs alone. I had such information as authorized ing from the constitution,] from time to time, give to me to vote for it--information which very few, if any, the Congress information of the state of the Union, and members besides had; for it was not until the 3d of recommend to their consideration such measures as he March, after twelve o'clock at night, that I got in the shall judge necessary and expedient." This is his duty, report of the inspector of naval ordnance, which had not by that permissive word “may," but by that im- never been communicated to Congress, though it bad perative word "shall," and not at the beginning only of been lying in the office of the board of navy commisa session, but “from time to time;" at all times proper sioners for near or quite eighteen months, through my he is bound to do, and perform this imperative duty. honorable friend from Maryland, (Mr. W. C. JOHNSON,] Now, sir, on the 3d of March, 1835, the last Congress who made the report on the national foundry. I say I had been twice in session, and in existence two years; knew the wretched condition of the navy and of fortifiand yet, at the beginning of neither session, and at no cations, and I voted for that amendment under the imtime whatever, had he ever intimated even that the pression that it was necessary for a state of peace as well “state of the Union” required an appropriation of three as for a state of war. But did I know that none but a millions of dollars. He did not communicate any such few select tools knew the real secret about it? Did I know “ information” to this Congress! Was the Executive that two chairmen of the highest committees knew the ignorant of the wretched condition of our means of de- wishes and views of the Executive, and had concealed fence! Did he not know the startling facts which I have them except from a few as a secret? Did I dream that already disclosed in relation to our fortifications, our there was danger of this three millions becoming ordnance, and our pavy? I say, sir, they are too plain secret-service money? Sir, if I had known or suspected to be stumbled over by any body, and certainly the De- any thing like this, I would as soon have trampled this partments should be the very sources of information on constitution, this work of our fathers, this guarantee of the subject. There was, however, a great deal of trouble our liberties, under foot--have torn it into atoms, or in the wigwam last winter, when the rumors of war thrown it into that fire--as I would have voted for that reached the guardians of our safety. How will it be if amendment, appropriating three millions of dollars for the tocsin of war be actually sounded? The President secret service? Both acts would have been equally sacriwas not ignorant of our condition; an appropriation was legious, and would have done equal violence to the necessary without a speck of war in the horizon, and constitution and the country. But the secret was kept, his message to us this session is proof furnished by him and the House remained ignorant of what it was doing! self that he deemed that three millions amendment Permit me, sir, it is due to myself, to give you my im- necessary and proper on the 3d of March, 1835, when pressions of this amendment at the time I voted for it. he made no recommendation of the measure to Congress, its form was not such, I confess, as satisfied me; but in save to you, sir, and you suppressed it; and, though our the short space I had to view it, I was led to a construcFrench relations are in a worse condition than then, he tion which reconciled me to vote for it. It is sufficient still made no recommendation of such an appropriation for my justification, that my impressions of it were honin that very message which says it was nine months ago | est at the time, though I do not pretend to say now in "accordance with the views of the Executive!” whether my construction of it was right or wrong.

A secret recommendation! What, in the name of the There is no principle in the theory of our Government safety of this Government, was it to be kept secret for? more vitally important, in my estimation, than the prinWas the direction to keep it secret the direction of the ciple of specific appropriations. During the whole of · President? Or was it the unauthorized direction of the the last Congress, I was constantly watchful to preserve chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means? (Mr. that principle as sacred to the freedom of the constituPolk.) This question should be answered; one or both tion. It was jealously borne in mind by me when called must be guilty, and one (Mr. POLK) is guilty, whether the on to vote for this amendment. I read it carefully. other is or not. Would the chairman have dared to (Here Mr. Wise read the amendment.! In the usual withhold any item of the executive will which he was language of appropriation, this sum of three millions was ordered to communicate! If he failed, he was guilty of « to be expended, in whole or in part, under the direca flagrant dereliction of duty to the Executive and his tion of the President of the United States." I could not, recommendation. And if he was ordered to “keep the or did not, at the time, regard this clause as extraordiwill of the Executive secret," and did so, he was false nary or improper, because I knew it merely recognised to the House of Representatives, to the constitution, the distinct functions of Congress and the Executive. and the country, and betrayed his trust!

Congress, or rather, the legislative department, approSir, though the fortification bill bad came to the priates the public money, and, in all cases except that House from the Senate days and weeks before the 3d of of the contiogent fund of the two Houses and some other · March, this three million amendment was kept back minor exceptions, the Executive applies the appropriauntil the last hour. Was it intended to be hurried tion. From the foundation of the Government, the through by fear of the responsibility to refuse an appro-money appropriated by Congress has been “expended," priation for nominal defence, when there was no time to with or without an express provision to that effect. think, and scarcely time to act! Sir, I thought I had “under the direction of the President," or some one of

« AnteriorContinuar »