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measure, a cardinal point, in the course of the Administration. It has proceeded, from the first, on a settled system of proscription for political opinions; and this system it has carried into operation to the full extent of its ability. The President has not only filled all vacancies with his own friends, generally those most distinguished as personal partisans, but he has turned out political opponents, and thus created vacancies, in order that he might fill them with his own friends. I think the number of removals and appointments is said to be two thousand. While the Administration and its friends have been atternpting to circumscribe, and to decry, the powers belonging to other branches, it has thus seized into its own hands a patronage most pernicious and corrupting, an authority over men's means of living most tyrannical and odious, and a power to punish free men for political opinions altogether intolerable.
You will remember, Sir, that the Constitution says not one word about the President's power of removal from office. It is a power raised entirely by construction. It is a constructive power, introduced, at first, to meet cases of extreme public necessity. It has now become coëxtensive with the Executive will, calling for no necessity, requiring no exigency, for its exercise; but to be exercised at all times, without control, without question, without responsibility. When the question of the President's power of removal was debated in the first Congress, those who argued for it limited it to extreme cases. Cases, they said, might arise, in which it would be absolutely necessary to remove an officer, before the Senate could be assembled. An officer might become insane; he might abscond ; and from these, and other supposable cases, it was said, the public service might materially suffer, if the President could not remove the incumbent. And it was further said, that there was little or no danger of the power's being abused for party or personal objects. No President, it was thought, would ever commit such an outrage on public opinion. Mr. Madison, who thought the power ought to exist, and to be exercised in cases of high necessity, declared, nevertheless, that if a President should exercise the power, when not called for by any public exigency, and merely for personal objects, he would deserve to be impeached. By a very small majority ,- I think, in the Senate, by the casting vote of the Vice-President, -Congress decided in favor of the existence of the power, upon the grounds which I have mentioned ; granting the power, in a case of clear and absolute necessity, and denying its existence every where else.
Mr. President, we should recollect that this question was discussed, and thus decided, when Washington was in the Executive chair. Men knew, that, in his hands, the power would not be abused; nor did they conceive it possible that any of his successors could so far depart from his great and bright example, as, by abuse of the power, and by carrying that abuse to its utmost extent, to change the essential character of the Executive from that of an impartial guardian and executor of the laws, into that of the chief dispenser of party rewards. Three or four instances of removal occurred in the first twelve years of the Government. At the commencement of Mr. Jefferson's Administration, he made several others, not without producing much dissatisfaction; so much so, that he thought it expedient to give reasons to the people, in a public paper, for even the limited extent to which he had exercised the power. He placed his justification on particular circumstances and peculiar grounds; which, whether substantial or not, showed, at least, that he did not regard the power of removal as an ordinary power, still less as a mere arbitrary one, to be used as he pleased, for whatever ends he pleased, and without responsibility. As far as I remember, Sir, after the early part of Mr. Jefferson's Administration, hardly an instance occurred for near thirty years. If there were any instances, they were few. But at the commencement of the present Administration, the precedent of these previous cases was seized on, and a system, a regular plan of government, a well-considered scheme for the maintenance of party power, by the patronage of office, and this patronage to be created by general removal, was adopted, and has been carried into full operation. Indeed, before Gen. Jackson's inauguration, the party put the system into practice. In the last session of Mr. Adams's Administration, the friends of Gen. Jackson constituted a majority in the Senate ; and nominations, made by him to fill vacancies, which had occurred in the ordinary way, were postponed, by this majority, beyond the third of March, for the purpose, openly avowed, of giving the nominations to Gen. Jackson. A nomination for a Judge of the Supreme Court, and many others of less magnitude, were thus disposed of.
And what did we witness, Sir, when the Administration actually commenced, in the full exercise of its authority? One universal sweep, one undistinguishing blow, levelled against all who were not of the successful party. No worth, public or private, no service, civil or military, was of power to resist the relentless greediness of proscription. Soldiers of the late war, soldiers of the revolutionary war, the very contemporaries of the liberties of the country, all lost their situations. No office was too high, and none too low ; for office was the spoil,—and all the spoils, it is said, belong to the victors! If a man, holding an office, necessary for his daily support, had presented himself covered with the scars of wounds received in every battle, from Bunker Hill to Yorktown, these would not have protected him against this reckless rapacity. Nay, Sir, if WARREN himself had been among the living, and had possessed any office under Government, bigh or low, he would not have been suffered to hold it a single hour, unless he could show that he had strictly complied with the party statutes, and had put a well-marked party collar round his own neck. Look, Sir, to the case of the late venerable Major Melvill. He was a spirit of 1776, one of the very first to venture in the cause of liberty. He was of the Tea Party; one of the very first to expose himself to British power. And his whole life was consonant with this, its beginning. Always ardent in the cause of liberty; always a zealous friend to his country ; always acting with the party which he supposed cherished the genuine republican spirit most fervently; always 'estimable and respectable in private life,-he seemed armed against this miserable petty tyranny of party, as far as man could be. But he felt its blow, and he fell. He held an office in the custom-house, and had holden it for a long course of years; and he was deprived of it, as if unworthy to serve the country which he loved, and for whose liberties, in the vigor of his early manhood, he had thrust himself into the very jaws of its enemies. There was no mistake in the matter. His character, his standing, his revolutionary services, were all well known ; but they were known to no purpose; they weighed not one feather against party pretensions. It cost no pains to remove him; it cost no compunction to wring his aged heart with this retribution from his country for his services, his zeal, and his fidelity. Sir, you will bear witness, that, when his successor was nominated to the Senate, and the Senate was told who it was that had been removed to make way for that nomination, members were struck with horror. They had not conceived the Administration to be capable of such a thing ; and yet, they said, What can we do? The man is removed; we cannot recall him; we can only act upon the nomination before us? Sir, you and I thought otherwise; and I rejoice that we did think Otherwise. We thought it our duty to resist the nomination to a vacancy thus created. We thought it our duty to oppose this proscription when, and where, and as, we Constitutionally could. We besought the Senate to go with us, and to take a stand before the country on this great question. We invoked them to try the deliberate sense of the people ; to trust themselves before the tribunal of public opinion; to resist at first, to resist at last, to resist always, the introduction of this unsocial, this mischievous, this dangerous, this belligerent principle, into the practice of the Government.
Mr. President, as far as I know, there is no civilized country on earth, in which, on a change of rulers, there is such an inquisition for spoil, as we have witnessed in this free republic. The Inaugural Address of 1829 spoke of a searching operation of Gov
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ernment. The most searching operation, Sir, of the present Administration, has been its search for office and place. Whenever, Sir, did any English minister, whig or tory, take such an inquest? When did he ever go down to low-water mark, to make an ousting of tide-waiters ? When did he ever take away the daily bread of weighers, and gaugers, and measurers? Or when did he go into the villages, to disturb the little post-offices, the mail contracts, and any thing else, in the remotest degree connected with Government? Sir, a British minister, who should do this, and should afterwards show his head in a British House of Commons, would be received by a universal hiss.
I have little to say of the selections made to fill vacancies thus created. It is true, however,-and it is a natural consequence of the system which has been acted on,—that, within the last three years, more nominations, have been rejected, on the ground of un
fitness, than in all the preceding forty years of the Government. And these nominations, you know, Sir, could not have been rejected, but by votes of the President's own friends. The cases were too strong to be resisted. Even party attachment could not stand them. In some, not a third of the Senate, in others not ten votes, and in others not a single vote, could be obtained ; and this for no particular reason known only to the Senate; but on general grounds of the want of character and qualifications; on grounds known to every body else, as well as to the Senate. All this, Sir, is perfectly natural and consistent. The same party selfishness which drives good men out of office, will push bad men in. Political proscription leads necessarily to the filling of offices with incompetent persons, and to a consequent mal-execution of official duties. In my opinion, Sir, it will effectually change the character of our Government, this acting upon the avowed principle of claiming office by right of conquest, unless the public shall rebuke and restrain it. It elevates party above country; it forgets the cominon weal in the pursuit of personal emolument; it tends to form, it does form, we see that it has formed, political combinations, held together by no common principles or opinions among its members, either upon the powers of the Government, or the true policy of the country; but held together simply as an association, under the charm of a popular bead, seeking to maintain possession of the Government by a vigorous exercise of its patronage; and for this purpose agitating, and alarming, and distressing social life by the exercise of a tyrannical party proscription. Sir, if this course of things cannot be checked, good men will grow tired of the exercise of political privileges. They will have nothing to do with popular elections. They will see that such elections are but a mere selfish contest for office; and they will abandon the Government to the scramble of the bold, the daring, and the desperate.
It seems, Mr. President, to be a peculiar and singular characteristic of the present Administration, that it came into power on a cry against abuses, which did not exist, and then, as soon as it was in, as if in mockery of the perception and intelligence of the people, it created those very abuses, and carried them to a great length. Thus the Chief Magistrate himself, before he came into the chair, in a formal public paper, denounced the practice of appointing members of Congress to office. He said, that if that practice continued, corruption would become the order of the day; and, as if to fasten and nail down his own consistency to that point, he declared that it was " due to himself to practise what he recommended to others.” Yet, Sir, as soon as he was in power, these fastenings gave way, the nails all new, and the promised consistency remains, a striking proof of the manner in which political assurances are sometimes fulfilled. For, Sir, he has already appointed more members of Congress to office than any of his predecessors, in the longest period of administration. Before his time, there was no reason to complain of these appointments. They had not been numerous under any administration. Under this, ihey have been numerous, and some of them such as may well justify complaint.
Another striking instance of the exhibition of the same characteristics, may be found in the sentiments of the Inaugural Address, and in the subsequent practice, on the subject of interfering with the freedom of elections. The Inaugural Address declares, that it is necessary to reform abuses which have brought the patronage of the Government into conflict with the freedom of elections. And what has been the subsequent practice? Look to the newspapers ;-look to the published letters of officers of the Government, advising, exhorting, soliciting, friends and partisans to greater exertions in the cause of the party ;-see all done, every where, which patronage and power can do, to affect not only elections in the General Government, but also in every State Governmentand then say, how well this promise of reforming abuses has been kept. At what former period, under what former administration, did public officers of the United States thus interfere in elections ? Certainly, Sir, never. In this respect, then, as well as in others, that which was not true, as a charge against previous administrations, would have been true, if it had assumed the form of a prophecy respecting the acts of the present.
But there is another attempt to grasp, and to wield a power over public opinion, of a still more daring character, and far more dangerous effects.
In all popular governments, a Free Press is the most important of all agents and instruments. It not only expresses public opinion, but, to a very great degree, it contributes to form that opinion. It is an engine, for good or for evil, as it may be directed;