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average year since the commencement of the adminis- the matter, if there was no such understanding. Why tration of General Jackson. 'This excess may be con did he rise, allude to the paragraph, and stop short, withsidered by this House as a war measure, and will be so out proceeding with his vindication? He was too well viewed by the nation and the world.
acquainted with the rules of this House not to know These bills were, by an order of the House, at the that he was out of order. I have asked, and again reinstance of the chairman of the Committee of Ways and peat it, why, after he bad commenced his defence, did Means, made the special order of each day until they he stop? and why did he intimate that the gentleman are all disposed of. The first bill taken up was that ap- from Massachusetts would bring that subject before the propriating money for the navy; the House went into House in another form? They must have conferred toCommittee of the whole on the state of the Vuion on gether, and the whole was a manoeuvre to enable the that bill. A war speech was made by the chairman of gentleman from Massachusetts to exhibit his resolution; the Committee of Ways and Means, in his usual bus- which I consider an indictment, with one count against ting, swelling manner. Several other speeches follow the members in this House who voted against the three ed; and, towards evening, the gentleman from North million appropriation last session, another count against Carolina (Mr. Bynum commenced a warm, animated, the majority in the Senate; but these two counts are and eloquent, speech in favor of the bill, in a high-tone only nominal; the real intent and meaning of the whole war spirit. The speech was about half finished when the is to reach two of the honorable Senators, [Messrs. gentleman gave place for a motion for the committee to White and WEBSTER] who are now before the people rise, as it was late in the evening. Next day, the hole as candidates for the presidency. It looks like a Van House came prepared to enter with spirit into the dis- | Buren trick; the band of the magician is surely in this cussion of our relations with France, and all the meas whole matter. If the gentleman from Massachusetts is ures which were about to be taken connected there capable of blushing or feeling one sensation of shame, with. The party of the little Kinderhook hero seemed that blush or sensation ought to be exhibited upon the brimful of fight. We had been denounced, the evening present occasion. I call upon him to review his past before, by the gentleman from North Carolina, as the life, the high and dignified offices he bas filled, during a French party, which he declared now existed in this na space of fifty years, with so much credit to himself and tion. The imputation we considered as unmerited, and honor to the nation; and now but to behold his present intended to vindicate ourselves from so foul an accusa- fallen condition--the instrument of a vile intrigue. tion. Never did this House assemble in a higher state Self-debasement and degradation is a fatality which freof excitement than was manifested on the next day: it quently awaits the inordinate ambition of an old manwas expected that the debate would progress with in- that ambition which outlives his faculties. creased animation, and many a parliamentary lance Mr. Speaker, I hope the House will pardon me for would be hurled, broken, and shivered into pieces. this short digression. I will proceed with the history The galleries were crowded at an early hour. When of this resolution, and its progress in the House op to the time arrived for the House again to go into Commit. the present time. The gentleman from Massachusetts, tee of the Whole on the state of the Union on the navy in support of it, addressed the 'House for nearly three bill, the gentleman from New York [Mr. CAMBRELENG] hours, in a most elaborate speech, alike famous for its moved to dispense with the orders of the day, to take length, violence, and vituperation of his former political up the bill to relieve the sufferers by fire in New York. friends; filled to overflowing with the bitterest invecThe motion prevailed; the orders of the day were dis- tive. Some of his remarks I intend to notice hereafter. pensed with; the navy bill was laid down, and the bill to He was followed by the honorable gentleman from Vir. relieve the sufferers by fire in New York taken up. ginia, (Mr. Wise,] who addressed the House at length Some progress was made in that bill; but, before it was on the opposite side; and who, in his speech, exhibited finished-nay, hardly commenced--the House adjourn great industry, research, and talents. But the ability ed. The next day, the House was not permitted to be- he displayed, although very great, did not so much atgin where it had stopped. No; what, then, was the tract my admiration as his bold and manly bearing in course of business? The same gentleman from New York, i delivering his sentiments. He forcibly reminded me of [Mr. CAMBRELENG,]--who is the leader of the Jack- what that stern republican Roman said: that son-Van Buren party in this House, or, if not the leader, is put in a position by the Speaker to lead-got up, ad
"A day, an hour, of virtuous liberty dressed the House, and then read or alluded to a para
Is worth a whole eternity in bondage." graph in a newspaper, which, he said, had attacked him When the gentleman from Virginia resumed his seat, personally; as if this House bad any thing to do with the the honorable chairman of the Committee of Ways and newspaper controversies of the honorable gentleman. Means, (Mr. CAMBRELENG,] with great pomp and pa. As usual, he pompously commenced a vindication of rade, took the floor, and announced what he intended himself; but, before he had uttered more than one or to do when he should address the House. He said it two sentences, wound up by saying that the source was too late to proceed that evening; but, before he from which the alleged slander came was beneath his moved an adjournment, with great arrogance declared notice and unworthy of him. I beg the House not to he would not reply to the gentleman from Virginia; forget that, at the same time, he intimated that the sub- that he intended to encounter å champion more worthy ject referred to in the paper would be brought before of his steel-alluding to Mr. WEBSTER, of the Senate. the House in another shape by the gentleman from Mas I admired his courage; and felicitated myself that my sachusetts, [Mr. Adams,] who instantly took the floor eyes, at least once in my life, would be gratified by a with the resolution now under debate in his hand, al. sight of the battle of giants. There was something to ready cut out and made up to order. The rules of the command my admiration in his high resolves; it was a House were again dispensed with, the gentleman from laudable ambition, even if he perished in the conflict. New York voting for it, and the present resolution was of. I love to see men matched fairly: let footman fight with fered. I will not say that there was a secret understand footman, squire with squire, knight couch the lance ing between those two gentlemen that the resolution and spur the fiery steed against knight: Fingal never should be brought before the House in this very extra. left his rock and mixed in the strife of heroes, until ordinary and unprecedented manner. The reason I will Lathmon was in the field. When the gentleman took not aver that to be the fact is, because I do not know it; the floor on yesterday, I expected efforts commensu. yet, there seemed to me to be something inexplicable in rate with the undertaking; I listened to hear Jupite
thundering from Olympus's cloudy tops, or, if not the It will be filled with bitter denunciations of his former thunder of Jove, at least the music of the spheres. But political friends and associates, to conciliate the opposite was there ever man so disappointed! Instead of the party, and make his peace at the palace. I have no grandeur, magnificence, and sublimity, of thunder roll doubt the report will not exhibit any one fact exactly ing along and shaking the earth from pole to pole, my as it took place: to tell the truth, the whole truth, and ears were grated with the miserable sounds of a wretch nothing but the truth, is far from the object of the gened performer on a Jew's harp! If an enlightened tleman concerned in this matter. A war is to be made stranger were to visit this city during the sitting of Con. on the Senators, to cheapen and lessen their standing gress, and attend to the debates in the Senate and here, with the people of the United States. Messrs. WEB. how this House would suffer in the comparison! If he ster and white are to be assailed without mercy in should chance to hear the chairman of the Committee the report, and food furnished for all the administration on Finance in the Senate (Mr. WEBSTER] developing, presses in the Union, next summer, to abuse those who in his usual lucid manner, complicated questions of voted against the appropriation in either House. I ask, finance, and unfolding the almost exhaustless, although does it become the dignity of this august assembly, the somewhat hidden, resources of this nation; and, after wisest and freest on earth, to degrade itself for such a that, come into this ball, and hear the chairman of the vile purpose the inglorious one of becoming panders Committee of Ways and Means on the same subject; to collect and imbody slander for the office-holders and whether the efforts of the great moneyed officer of this office-hunters, some of whom are now feeding, and House would most excite his laughter or contempt, I can others expect shortly to feed, upon “the spoils" of this not tell: the sublime anıl ludicrous are so nearly allied. | nation, as if we were a conquered enemy; and who are His feelings would be not unlike those of an amateur the only self-styled, self-created democracy of the counof the great and awful workings of nature, who had try--a word justly dear to a republican, and only used, just been a spectator of Vesuvius or Ætna in the ap. in these degenerate days, by designing knaves, to flatter palling grandeur of a tremendous eruption, and then and deceive the people? torning on the plain below, and seeing a mole or ant. I boldly and fearlessly pronounce the resolution to be bill emitting a pale smoke, and occasionally a feeble and unparliamentary, unprecedented, and disgraceful to sickly blaze.
those concerned in it. No man can misunderstand its Mr. Speaker, I have been a member of this House, object: it is an inquisition of entitling for Van Buren. or the Legislature of Kentucky, for nearly twenty-five 1f, Mr. Speaker, i had no other reasons than those I years. I do not profess to have an intimate acquaint-have this moment assigned, I would vote against the resance with the rules and regulations which govern, opolution. If the gentleman from Massachusetts wishes rather ought to govern, parliamentary bodies; yet I do to cut a somerset, let him do it as a clown in the pit: do profess to know enough of the order of proceeding as not give him a spring-plank to leap from; I want to see will enable me to do, and understand how to transact, him turn a somerset as a ground, not a lofty tumbler: he the business confided to me either by my constituents is not unaccustomed to these things; he has frequently or this House. I never made more of the rules my l done it before, without the aid of a committee, and let study than was needful for the doing of business. My him do it again. ambitious aspirations have never been directed towards I will endeavor now to give a brief and rapid sketch the Speaker's chair. I cannot give in to the modern of the history of the fortification bill, as it is called, and doctrine, that, if the force of party, or the desire to l of the three million appropriation attached to it, by way propitiate the White House, should take a man from of amendment, in the last stages of the progress of the amongst us who is not above the mediocrity of this bill. House, and make him Speaker, he thereby becomes The fortification bill was reported to this House by one of the wise men of this land: it is the man who is to the proper committee; and, after remaining here some do honor to the chair, and not the chair to do honor to fifty days, it passed, and was sent to the Senate for the the man; if he does not fill it, his littleness, by his ele action of that body. The appropriations in the bill, at vation, only becomes more visible and striking. If the that time, amounted to $559,000; this being the sum same man, when in the chair, should select a man be. then deemed sufficient by the Department of War. The low the mediocrity of this House, and put him at the bill was sent to the Senate, and there met the prompt head of the most important committee, I am equally attention of that body. It passed the Senate with amend. disinclined to believe that he thereby becomes "a very | ments making additional appropriations to the fortificaDaniel of a man.” Sir, since Elijah went to heaven in tions of the country to the amount of $430,000; making a chariot of fire, and cast his mantle on Elisha, and he $989,000. On the last day of the session, the bill, as thereby became a prophet, God has not youchsafed for amended, came from the Senate for the concurrence of any other man on this earth to be thus gifted.
this House in the Senate's amendments. If the friends Mr. Speaker, I declare to this House that such a reso- of the administration only wanted the fortification bill, lution as the present I never before saw, Does it pro. all they had to do was to agree to the amendments of pose any thing for the action of this House! I answer, the Senate. It contained $430,000 more than was asked no. Does it present any thing for the action of the for originally by the President and War Department, Senate? It does not. We are to raise a committee in and more than the usual and customary annual approthis House to inquire and report why a certain bill, priations for the same objects. The annual appropriawhich was before Congress at the last session, did not tions for fortifications since the war amount, each year, pass. Let the committee report as it may, no action of to these sums: this House can be based thereon or grow out of it. Can we impeach the members of the Senate, or of the last Appropriations for fortifications since the treały of Ghent. House of Representatives, who voted against the three For 1814, - $552,999 43 | For 1822, - $385,679 86 million appropriation? Every man in this House knows 1815, . 451,389 93 1823, 481,692 67 we cannot,
1816, - 396,261 02 1824, . 514,816 25 One of the main objects of this resolution is to raise 1817, - 381,969 61 1825, 729,783 05 the committee. Will that committee examine witnesses? 1818, 635,923 66 1826, . 760,238 86 No. The gentleman from Massachusetts will draught 1819, - 972,964 46 1827, - 633,961 14 a report, based upon his distorted view of the transac 1820, . 675,376 23 1828,- 637,558 43 tion; for I well know the part he took in it last session. I 1821, 316,720 69 1829, 824,589 55
For 1830, . $951,000 00 | For 1834, - $871,044 00 by what I have already said. I maintain the proposi
1831, 816,604 00 1835, 100,000 00 tion, that those in this House who voted against the 1832,. 753,000 00
three million appropriation are not to blame, nor can 1833, - 926,900 00! . $13,770,472 84 any censure be alleged against the Senate. The ad
ministration party had a decided majority in this House, But on the last day of the session, and about sunset on and the complete and entire control of the standing coma that day, did the gentleman from New York (Mr. CAM mittees; they could bring forward a measure when they BRELENG) move to agree to the Senate's amendments, | pleased, or keep it back as long as they pleased. Then, with an amendment; which amendment contained the I ask, nay, demand, why did they not bring forward the famous three million appropriation.
proposition for the three million appropriation sooner? Had the President sent us any communication on the Our relations with France were then in about the same subject? No. Had we heard that the War Department situation they had been for some weeks before; no wanted it? No. Some few favorites, it seems, bad change; no recent information had been received on the been so informed; but they kept it a profound secret. subject; there is nothing in the whole matter to justify the Why did they not communicate it to the House, if it withholding the demand for the appropriation to so late was an executive measure? If General Jackson desired a period; and, if it was really lost for want of time, who the money, for the purposes of carrying on the Govern- are answerable for it? The answer is obvious. Those ment, why not say so?' He has never heretofore been in power, and whose business it was to bring forward the backward in telling us what he wished done. Did he proposition. This House and the Senate acted on the want the money, and yet not dare "to assume the re- subject with unusual promptitude and despatch. sponsibility” of asking for it? Upon all these subjects The gentleman from New York has said that the hour of information we were left in the dark. The Execu- of 12 o'clock had arrived before the committee of contive of this and every other Government informs the leference met, and that he believed the House dissolved gislative department what amount of money is necessary by the constitution at 12 o'clock. If this was his opinto carry on the Government; and the legislative depart. ion, why then meet at all? When he wag called on for ment is never in fault, until they refuse to appropriate a report from the committee of conference, he gave this the money after it is demanded.
constitutional opinion as one of the reasons why he The appropriation of the three millions was asked by would not report, which reads in these words: the gentleman from New York too late for any of us to "Mr. Cambreleng, the chairman of the conferees on make inquiry of the President, or the War Department, the part of this House, then rose and stated that he deas to the fitness and propriety of the measure; and, if clined to make report of the proceedings of the commitwe had made the inquiry, it is evident no information tee of conference aforesaid, on the ground that, from the would have been given; or why did the chairman of the vote on the resolution granting compensation to Robert Committee of Ways and Means (Mr. POLK) keep it a P. Letcher, which vote was decided at the time the comsecret, and request some few others, who knew that mittee returned into the House from the conference, it the President wanted the money, not to divulge it? was ascertained that a quorum was not present; and, furSurely, the leaders of the administration party intended ther, that he declined to make the said report on the to sport with and mock the House.
ground that the constitutional term for which this House Mr. Speaker, if there had been no other cause than had been chosen had expired.” the want of time and of information on the subject,
I will now, Mr. Speaker, turn the attention of the we did right to vote against the three million appropria- | House to the journal. In page 519, it reads as follows: tion. I, for one, will never give away the money of my "A motion was then made by Mr. Hubbard that the constituents, unless I know the why and wherefore it is House do ask a conference with the Senate on the disa. asked and demanded.
greeing votes of the two Houses on the said amendAbout dark, on the last day of the session, the bill ment. went back from this House to the Senate, for the con- " And on the question, Will the House ask a concurrence of that body to the three million appropriation. | ference? The Senators had no information of any kind on the sub “It pas ed in the affirmative. And ject, either official or informal; they had no time for in. “Mr. Cambreleng, Mr. Lewis, and Mr. Hubbard, vestigation; they must either vote the money instantly, were appointed managers, to conduct the said conferwithout light or knowledge on the subject, or reject ence, on the part of this House." the appropriation and disagree to our amendment. They, The committee of conference was appointed, I think, as became sages and patriots, chose the latter alternative: about 10 o'clock at night. I had the honor of then being a they acted with becoming dignity and manly indepen. member, and an attentive observer of allthat passed. The dence, in true character with themselves. The bill came House then went on to do business to such an extent as here
the disagreement of the Senate to our amend to fill up two pages and a half of the journal, when the ment; we insisted, and sent it back to the Senate: the Cumberland road bill was taken up; and on that bill two Senate adhered to their disagreement; we again insisted, of the committee of conference, Messrs. Cambreleng and asked a committee of conference; and a committee and Hubbard, voted in the negative; see journal, page was accordingly appointed. The Senate agreed to the 522. It will be perceived that, at this time, the comconference, and appointed a committee on their part.mittee of conference was in the House and voting. The conferees met, and agreed on reducing the three About 1 o'clock A. M., the House voted on the resolumillions to eight hundred thousand dollars; thus making tion to pay Mr. Letcher his per diem allowance when the whole bill contain appropriations to the amount of contesting his seat with Major Moore. Mr. Cambrel. $1,789,000. After the conferees had agreed, the chair eng voted on that also; see the journal, page 324. I ask man of the committee on the part of this House (Mr. the gentleman from New York, when did the committee CAMBRELENG] refused to report to the House, and the of conference meet? He says, after he voted on the whole bill was thereby finally lost.
resolution to pay Mr. Letcher. I ask him again, if you Mr. Speaker, after this short history of the origin and were in earnest about this whole matter, and intend. progress of the bill through both Houses, the next inquiry ed no trick, why did you not go out before? Why will be, why was the bill lost? and, if there be blame did you stay, after your appointment at 10 o'clock, and cause of censure any where, who is in fault?
until one, before you attempted to meet in confer. This part of the inquiry has been somewhat anticipated I ence, when, from your own statement, you were of
opinion the House was dissolved at twelve? Is there members, and from the Chair, it was informally agreed not a palpable dereliction of duty in not attending the to pass the name of Mr. Beardsley.” committee of conference sooner?' The fact and truth is, This argument of the gentleman from Massachusetts Mr. Speaker, the gentleman was not remiss in meeting is a two-edged sword, and, when wielded by him, cuts in conference. He did go after his appointment, and ten of his new associates for one of his old friends. returned before the Cumberland road bill was taken up; ], however, do not much censure the gentleman for but, not liking the result of the conference, or perhaps entertaining the opinion that the President and Congress from some lurking desire to injure the Senate, and cast can each hold their offices, one after the four years, and the odium of the loss of the bill on that body, would the other the two years expire. How long after the not report.
time sball expire they can continue in office, he does not There is, evidently, a piece of political jugglery in state; at least long enough, I suppose, to do what they this whole business; and the gentleman from New York desire, and to finish what they have on hand. This and his confederates were the prime movers and actors question revives his ancient recollections and reminisin the whole scene. The gentleman says that there was cences. I once heard of a President who, between no time to hold the conference, after his appointment, midnight and day, and that, too, after his four years bad until the Cumberland road bill was taken up. I repeat expired, made a batch of judges, to reward some of the again, what I have said before, that there was business high-toned federalists of the old school for past services. transacted, enough to fill two and a half pages of the
I have remarked, Mr. Speaker, that I differed on that journal; and three speeches were made-one by the gene night with many of my friends about the time when Contleman from Missouri, (Mr. ASHLEY,] to take up a bill | gress was dissolved by the constitution. If I can obtain relative to his State; and two by gentlemen from Mary. the indulgence and patient attention of the House, I will land, against the bill from the Senate which abolished submit a few remarks in support of my opinion. The the Maryland and Delaware judicial circuit. That rea- constitution of the United States, in relation to Represon of the gentleman is unfounded in fact. The gentle sentatives, in the second section of the first article, reads man has one of the two horns of the dilemma to take in these words: either to stand convicted of not going to conference un. | “The House of Representatives shall be composed of til after twelve o'clock, when he then believed the House members chosen every second year by the people of the dissolved; and going after that time and conferring, several States; and the electors in each State shall have when he admits he had no power to act as a member: the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numer. the other alternative is, that he went in time, returned ous branch of the State Legislature." in time, and then refused to make the report.
And, in relation to the election of President, article So, take it any way that the question can be present.
second, section the first, reads as follows: ed, the loss of the bill is attributable to the gentleman
"The executive power shall be vested in a President from New York, and none else. The gentleman has of the United States of America. He sball hold his office one pleasing consolation left to him; he stands, in rela. during the term of four years, and, together with the tion to this House, and this great and wide-spreading re. Vice President, chosen for the same term, be elected as public, in the same position that the ancients believed follows," &c. Mount Atlas did towards the heavens--he can bear it all The time, place, and manner, of electing Representa. upon his own shoulders.
tives, are, by the constitution, left to the States. The The gentleman from Massachusetts attempts to throw provision on that subject reads in these words: the loss of the bill upon those who believed the House “The times, places, and manner, of holding elections to be constitutionally dissolved at 12 o'clock on the 3d for Senators and Representatives shall be prescribed in of March last. Although I then entertained that opinion, each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress and acted on it, which opinion I have not since changed; may, at any time, by law, make or alter such regulations, yet, even if we were wrong, the gentleman ought to rec except as to the places of choosing Senators." ollect that that error of opinion does not exculpate the From these provisions in the constitution of the United gentleman from New York, (Mr. CAMBRELENG.] I ask States, it is clear and manifest that a Representative is the gentleman, (Mr. ADAMS,] if it would not be wise and elected for two years, and the President for four years. prudent in bim at least to see who is to be most affected when does the time commence? is the next subject of by entertaining that opinion! If there be error in it, I inquiry. Not at the time of the election, for the Presi. will it fall heaviest upon your old and now deserted po dent is elected the fall before the 4th of March; his eleclitical friends, or your new allies, whom you are now tion is complete when the electors give him a plurality courting with such marked attention and assiduity, and of votes: the mode of ascertaining that fact has nothing who, after they use you, will not give you your expected to do with the time of election. Representatives are and hoped-for reward; no, not even the thirty pieces of chosen for two years: the two years cannot commence silver?' General Jackson entertained that opinion, and from the time of the election, because the States regu. acted on it; Mr. Van Buren entertained that opinion, late the times of the election of their respective members, as a matter of course-by instinct, I suppose. If my and hardly any two States elect at the same time; conse. memory serves me right, he held a short conversation quently, there would be no uniformity as to the time of in this ball that night with a gentleman from New York, commencement or termination of the two years. Fre. (Mr. BEARDSLEY,] who directly afterwards refused to quently members are elected more than a year before the yote, as appears by the journal, which reads in these Congress commences of which they are members, and words:
the same man who is elected is, at the time of election, "A motion was made by Mr. Jarvis, that the House do a member of a preceding Congress, and serves one sesnow adjourn.
sion in it after his election to a succeeding Congress. "And, in deciding the question by yeas and nays, the The constitution did not, in the body of it, say when name of Samuel Beardsley, of New York, being called, the time should commence, and when end. The reason he declined to answer, on the ground that the term for is obvious. The convention did not know when nine which the members of the twenty-third Congress had Slates would ratify the constitution; and, until then, the been elected had expired; and that, according to the time when the Government under it should commence constitution of the United States, this House had ceased, could not be fixed; hence, no time is fixed on in the at 12 o'clock to-night, to exist.
constitution for the commencement of the Government. " Alter some remarks and suggestions from various | The convention adopted a resolution, in these words:
“ Resolved, that it is the opinion of this convention the seven days compleled on Sunday? I am elected for that, as soon as the conventions of nine States shall have two years: if my time commences on the 4th of March, ratified this constitution, the United States in Congress | is it not out on the 3d of March two years thereafter! assembled should fix a day on which electors should be Let us see how the law computes twenty-one years, the appointed by the States which shall have ratified the age of maturity, for a man or woman. Blackstone's same, and a day on which the electors should assemble Commentaries, first volume, page 463, reads in these to vote for the President, and the time and place for words: commencing proceedings under this constitution. That, "So that full age in male or female is twenty-one years, after such publication, the electors should be appointed, which age is completed on the day preceding the anni. and the Senators and Representatives elected. That the versary of a person's birth." electors should meet on the day fixed for the election of That the Representative's term of service commences the President, and should transmit their votes, certified, on the 4th of March every two years, and expires on the signed, sealed, and directed, as the constitution requires, 3d of March two years afterwards, is a position so plain to the Secretary of the United States in Congress assem that none can gainsay it--no one attempts to dispute it. bled; that the Senators and Representatives should con The whole question comes to this at last: when does the vene at the time and place assigned; that the Senators 4th of March commence, and when does the 3d of March, should appoint a President of the Senate, for the sole two years afterwards, end? The law makes no fraction purpose of receiving, opening, and counting, the votes of a day; the legal time, as universally settled, is, that the for President; and that, after he shall be chosen, the day begins at midnight, and ends at midnight: in the Congress, together with the President, should, without computation of time, the law knows no night. Suppose delay, proceed to execute this constitution."
a man were under trial for Sabbath breaking, and the This resolution declared that Congress, when the rat-proof was he broke the Sabbath on Sunday morning beification of nine States took place, should fix on the day tween daybreak and sunrise: would any judge or jary when the Government should commence. Congress let him off, upon the ground that it was on Saturday he did designate the day by a resolution, which reads in these committed the act? Or suppose it was proven that the words:
person under trial did the deed alleged against him (say, • " Resolved, That the first Wednesday in January next went to ploughing) on Mon.lay morning, ten minutes be. be the day for appointing electors in the several States fore sunrise; would any judge dare say that was Sunwhich, before the said day, shall have ratified the said con- day, and he was guilty of Sabbath breaking? Our constitution; that the first Wednesday in February next bestitution must be construed as any other part of our law the day for the electors to assemble in their respective would, for it is a part of the law of the land. This mode States, and vote for a President; and that the first Wednes of computing time has been long regulated by mankind, day in March (4th) next be the time, and the present | and it is now too late to dispute it. seat of Congress (New York) the place, for commencing The conduct of gentlemen, who contended last ses. proceedings under the said constitution."
sion that the computation should be made from sunrise By this resolution of Congress, the 4th of March, 1789, to sunrise, and that Congress could continue its session was the day fixed on by Congress. On that day, the till sunrise the 4th of March, distrusted their own opin. present Government was to commence under the consti ion; and it was only as the last alternative that they were tution, and on that day it did commence.
driven to assume that ground. The caption to the acts of the first Congress proves On the last night of the last session there were a numthat the Government of the United States commenced on ber of bills on the Clerk's table; each bill had its friends. the 4th of March, 1789; which caption reads in these About ten o'clock, it was perceived that the bills, or words:
some of them, would be lost for want of time. A “Acts of the first Congress of the United States, passed clockmaker in this city was procured, and conveyed beat the first session, which was begun and held at the city hind the clock of this hall; he moved the hands back of New York, in the State of New York, on Wednesday, eighteen minutes. I saw it done, and announced the March 4, 1789, and ended September 29, in the same fact to those who sat near me. Immediately afterwards,
when the eyes of fifty gentlemen were on the clock, its The 4th of March, 1789, after being fixed on by Con- hands were moved back one hour more; then, a memgress, in pursuance of a resolution of the convention, is ber from North Carolina proclaimed the fact to the just as binding as if it were inserted in the constitution House. I have since been informed that the man who itself. It is the execution of a power; and when the ex- bad this done was then a member of Congress, and bas ecution takes place, in strict conformity to the power, it since boasted of it; and that he procured it to be done then becomes the act of those giving the power.
to get a farorite measure he was interested in through The term of each President is for four years, the first the House. Why did he do it? Because he was of term having commenced on the 4th of March, 1789. opinion that the time would expire at midnight; yet the When did General Washington's first term commence! same man was arrayed with those who afterwards conThe answer is, on the 4th of March, 1789; his second tended that sunrise next morning was the time, and not term on the 4th of March, 1793; and the term of office | midnight. of each of his successors has been computed in the same Mr. Speaker, I had on that night the consolation to way, from that time to the present. The same rule of find I did not stand alone in my opinion. A large part construction is to be resorted to as to Representatives,
of the members present agreed with me, and some of except that their term of service is two years. Surely, the ablest constitutional lawyers of the House were of Mr. Speaker, there can be no doubt, dispute, or contro | the number; among whom I now recollect were two versy, as to the day when the time shall commence to members from Georgia, Messrs. Foster and Gilmer, Mr. run.
Archer from Virginia, and a gentleman from Ohio, who What is the time that completes one year! Suppose is a member of the present Congress; and on that acwe begin on new year's day: the answer is, the last day count I cannot designate him by name. He is a man of of the December following, which completes the three great talents, and an able lawyer. This description hundred and sixty-five days. Every negro that has been fear, will not enable me to point him out to the HOS hired out on a new year's day for a year knows the year as it is equally applicable to a number of gentless is out on the last day of December following. The week from that State. has seven days: suppose we begin with Monday, are not ! Sir, as it respects myself, I voted against the