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this political partnership, the old member; have a right to say on what terms such new partners are to come in, and what they are to bring along with them. In my opinion the people of the United States will not consent to bring a new, vastly extensive, and slaveholding Country, large enough for half a dozen or a dozen States, into the Union. In my opinion they ought not to consent to it. Indeed 1 am altogether at a loss to conceive what possible benefit any part of this Country can expect to derive from such annexation. All benefit, to any part, is at least doubtful and uncertain; the objections obvious, plain, and strong. On the general question of Slavery, a great portion of the community is already strongly excited. The subject has not only attracted attention as a question of Politics, but it has struck a far deeper toned chord. It has arrested the religious feeling of the Country; it has taken strong hold on the consciences of men. He is a rash man, indeed, and little conversant with human nature, and especially has he a very erroneous estimate of the character of the People of this Country, who supposes that a feeling of this kind is to be trifled with, or despised. It will assuredly cause itself to be respected. It may be reasoned with, it may be made willing, I believe it is entirely willing, to fulfil all existing engagements, and all existing duties, to uphold and defend the Constitution, as it is established, with whatever regrets, about some provisions, which it docs actually contain. But to coerce it into silence, — to endeavor to restrain its free expression, to seek to compress and confine it, warm as it is, and more heat'-d as such endeavors would inevitably render it, — should nll this be attempted, I know nothing, even in the Constitution, or in the Union itself, which would not be endangered by the explosion which might follow.
I see. therefore, no political necessity for the annexation of Texas to the Union; no advantages to be derived from it; and objections to it, of a strong, and in my judgment, decisive character.
I believe it to be for the interest and happiness of the whole Union, to remain as it is, without diminution and without addition.
Gentlemen, I pass to other subjects. The rapid advancement of the Executive authority is a topic which has already been alluded to.
I believe there is serious cause of danger, from this source. I believe the Power of the Executive has increased, is increasing, and ought now to be brought back within its ancient Constitutional limits. I have nothing to do with the motives, which have led to those acts, which I believe to have transcended the boundaries of the Constitution. Good motives may always be assumed, as bad motives may always be imputed. Good intentions will always be pleaded, for every assumption of power; but they cannot justify it, even if we were sure that they existed. It is hardly too Mropg to say, that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intention, real or pretended. When bad intentions are boldly avowed, the People will promptly take care of themselves. On the other hand, they will always be asked, why they should resist, or question, that exercise of power, which is so fair in Its object, so plausible and patriotic in appearance, and which has the public good alone, confessedly in view? Human beings, we may be assured, will generally exercise power, when they can get it; and they will exercise it most undoubtedly, in popular Governments, under pretences of public safety, or high public interest. It may be very possible, that good intentions do really sometimes exist, when Constitutional restraints are disregarded. There are men, in all ages, who mean to exercise power usefully; but who mean to exercise it. They mean to govern well; but they mean to govern. They promise to be kind masters; but they mean to be masters. They think there need be but little restraint upon themselves. Their notion of the public interest, is apt to be quite closely connected with their own exercise of authority. They may not indeed always understand their own motives. The love of power may sink too deep in their hearts, even for their own scrutiny, and may pass, with themselves, for mere patriotism and benevolence.
A character has been drawn of a very eminent citizen of Massachusetts, of the last age, which, though I think it does not entirely belong to him, yet very well describes a certain class of public men. It was said of this distinguished son of Massachusetts, that in matters of politics and government he cherished the most kind and benevolent feelings towards the whole Earth. He earnestly desired to see all nations well governed; and to bring about this happy result, he wished that the United States might govern the rest of the world; that Massachusetts might govern the United States; that Boston might govern Massachusetts; and as for himself, his own humble ambition would be satisfied by governing the little town of Boston.
I do not intend, Gentlemen, to commit so unreasonable a trespass on your patience, as to discuss all those cases, in which I think Executive power has been unreasonably extended. I shall only allude to some of them, and as being earliest in the order of time, and hardly second to any other in importance, I mention the practice of removal from all offices, high and low, for opinion's sake, and on the avowed ground of giving patronage to the President; that is to say, of giving him the power of influencing men's political opinions, and political conduct, by hopes, and by fears, addressed directly to their pecuniary interests. The great battle on this point, was fought, and was lost, in the Senate of the United States, in the last session of Congress, under Mr. Adams's administration. After General Jackson was known to be elected, and before his
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term of office began, many important offices became vacant, by the usual causes of death and resignation. Mr. Adams, of course, nominated persons to fill these vacant offices. But a majority of the Senate was composed of the friends of General Jackson; and instead of acting on these nominations, and filling the vacant offices, with ordinary promptitude, the nominations were postponed, to a day beyond the fourth of March, for the purpose, openly avowed, of giving the patronage of the appointments to the President, who was then coming into office. And when the new President entered on his office, he withdrew these nominations, and sent in nominations of his own friends in their places. I was of opinion then, and am of opinion now, that that decision of the Senate went far to unfix the proper balance of the Government. It conferred on the President the power of rewards for party purposes or personal purposes, without limit or control. It sanctioned, manifestly, and plainly, that exercise of power, which Mr. Madison had said would deserve impeachment; and it completely defeated one great object, which we are told the framers of the Constitution contemplated, in the manner of forming the Senate; that is, that the Senate might be a body, not changing with the election of a President, and therefore likely to be able to hold, over him, some check or restraint, in regard to bringing his own friends and partisans into power with him, and thus rewarding their services to him, at the public expense.
The debates in the Senate, on these questions, were long continued and earnest. They were of course in secret session, but the opinions of those members, who op|xwed this course, have all been proved true by the result. The contest was severe and ardent, as much so as any that I have ever partaken in; and I have seen some service, in that sort of warfare.
Gentlemen, when I look back to that eventful moment, when I remember who those were, who upheld this claim, for Executive power, with so much zeal and devotion, as well as with such great and splendid abilities, and when 1 look round, now, and inquire what has become of these gentlemen, where they have found themselves, at last, under the power which they thus helped to establish, what has become, now, of all their respect, trust, confidence, and attachment, how many of them, indeed, have not escaped from being broken and crushed, under the weight of the wheels of that engine which they themselves set in motion, I feel that an edifying lesson may be read, by those, who, in the freshness and fulness of party zeal, are ready to confer the most dangerous power in the hope that they, and their friends, may bask in its sunshine, while enemies onlv shall be withered by its frown.
I will not go into the mention of names. I will give no enumeration of persons; but I ask you to turn your minds back, and recollect who the distinguished men were, who supported, in the Senate, General Jackson's administration for the two first years; and I will ask you what you suppose they think, now, of that power, and that discretion, which they so freely confided to Executive hands? What do they think of the whole career of that administration, the commencement of which, and indeed the existence of which, owed so much to their own great exertions?
In addition to the establishment of this power of unlimited and causeless removal, another doctrine has been put forth, more vague, it is true, but altogether unconstitutional, and tending to like dangerous results. In some loose, indefinite, and unknown sense, the President has been called the Representative of the whole American People. He has called himself so, repeatedly; and been so denominated by .his friends, a thousand times. Acts, for which no specific authority has been found, either in the Constitution or the laws, have been justified on the ground that the President is the Representative of the whole American People. Certainly, this is not constitutional language. Certainly, the Constitution no where calls the President the Universal Representative of the People. The Constitutional Representatives of the People are in the House of Representatives, exercising powers of legislation. The President is an executive officer, appointed in a particular manner, and clothed with prescribed and limited powers. It may be thought to be of no great consequence, that the President should call himself, or that others should call him, the sole Representative of all the People, although he has no such appellation or character in the Constitution. But in these matters, words are things. If he is the People's Representative, and as such may exercise power, without any other grant, what is the limit to that power? And what may not an unlimited Representative of the people do?
When the Constitution expressly creates Representatives, as members of Congress, it regulates, defines, and limits their authority.
But if the Executive Chief Magistrate, merely because he is the Executive Chief Magistrate, may assume to himself another character, and call himself the Representative of the whole People, what is to limit or restrain this Representative power in his hands?
I fear, Gentlemen, that if these pretensions should be continued, and justified, we might have many instances of summary political logic, such as I once heard in the House of Representatives. A gentleman, not now living, wished very much to vote for the establishment of a Bank of the United States. But he had always stoutly denied the constitutional power of Congress to create such a Bank. The Country, however, was in a state of great financial distress, from which such an Institution, it was hoped, might help to extricate it; and this consideration led the worthy member to review his opinions with care and deliberation. Happily, on such careful and deliberate review, he altered his former judgment. He came, satisfactorily, to the conclusion that Congress might incorporate a Bank. The arj,-ument which brought his mind to this result was short, and so plain and obvious, that he wondered how he should so long have overlooked it. The power, he said, to create a Bank, was either given to Congress, or it was not given. Very well. If it was given, Congress of course could exercise it; if it was not
K'ven, the People still retained it, and in that case, Congress, as the epresentatives of the People, might, upon an emergency, make free to use it.
Arguments and conclusions in substance like these, Gentlemen, will not be wanting, if men of great popularity, commanding chanif-ters, sustained by powerful parties, and full of good intention* towardt the public, may be permitted to call themselves the Universal Representatives of the People.
But, Gentlemen, it is the currency, the currency of the Country,— it is this great subject, so interesting, so vital, to all classes of the community, which has been destined to feel the most violent assaults of Executive Power. The consequences are around us, and upon us. Not unforeseen, not unforetold, here they come, bringing distress for the present, and fear and alarm for the future. If it be denied, that the present condition of things has arisen from the President's interference with the Revenue, the first answer is, that when he did interfere, just such consequences were predicted. It was then said, and repeated, and pressed upon the public attention, that that interference must necessarily produce derangement, embarrassment, loss of confidence, and commercial distress. I pray you, Gentlemen, to recur to the debates of 183*2, 1833, and 1K3-1, and then to decide whose opinions have proved to be correct. When the Treasury Experiment was first announced, who sup|x>rted, and who opposed it? Who warned the Country against it? Who were they who endeavored to stay the violence of party, to arrest the hand of Executive authority, and to convince the People, that this Experiment was delusive; that its object was merely to increase Executive Power, and that its effect, sooner or later, must be injurious and ruinous?
Gentlemen, it is fair to bring the opinions of political men to the test of experience. It is just to judge of them by their measures, and their opposition to measures; and for myself, and those political friends with whom I have acted, on this subject of the currency, I am ready to abide the test.
But before the subject of the currency, and its present most embarrassing state, is discussed, I invite your attention, Gentlemen, to the history of Executive proceedings, connected with it.