« AnteriorContinuar »
H. of R.]
(Oct. 12, 1837.
and hence it is but fair to contend that the people have ular will, clearly and deliberately expressed, must control only declared against a bank on the conditition that the the course of this free Government, and especially on subStaie banks would fulfil their expectations; and, therefore, jects of doubtful policy, and doubtful constitutional power. it would scem to be still an open question, or the decision To illustrate and support my views of this veto power, is in favor of a national bank. If any thing has been de- Mr. P. said he would call the attention of the conimittee cided, it was the question between the administration to the last paragraph of Mr. Jefferson's letter to General and the late bank, on the ground of imputed miscon- Washington, on the bank question, in the year 1791. Mr. duct on their part, and not the general question of a Jefferson, after expressing his opinions against the bank, national bank. He was not sufficiently acquainted with well concludes by telling President Washington inat, unthe facts to decide on the merits or demerits of the late less his mind, on a view of every thing, was toleralily clear bank; he had thought it indiscreet in them to issue public thut it was unconstitutional ; if the pro and con hung so cations concerning the controversy with the Government, cqual as 10 balance his judgment, a just respect for the because it did then no service, and subjected them to the wisdom of the Legislature would decide the balance in faimputation of intertering in the elections and politics vor of their opinion. It is chiefly for cases where they are of the country. For this course there may have been some clearly misled by error, ambition, or interest, that the Conexcuse on the score of self-defence. I certainly never heard stitution has placed a check in the negative of the Presiof any charge of the kird against the bank before its con- dent. This opinion was given to the President at the first test with the administration; and the branches in Ken- session the bank question was agitated in Congress, and tucky, I believe, have acted fairly and usefully, and to before it had been discussed or decided on by the people. the satisfaction of all parties. I neither, Mr. Chairman, How much stronger is the case nuw, after we have made understand the facts involved in the controversy, nor am two successful experiments of twenty years each, after the I disposed to engage in the discussion of them. I am for constitutional power has been three times asserted by large a good bank, under proper regulations, with a competent majorities of buth Houses of Congress, confirmed by all capital; reserving to the States one-fourth or one-third of the other departments of Government, and supported by the stock, to be divided among them according to an equi- the opinions of a host of the most enlightened statesmen table ratio to be paiul out of the proceeds of the public lands; and patriots of this country? Let it be remembered, that foreigners to be excluded from any direction of the bank; the the charter of a national bank does 1:0t invade the Execuinterest to be moderate, and a majority of the stock to be sub- tive or Judiciary, and can only trench, if unconstituscribed loy citizens of the United States, with a reservation tional, upon the rights reserved to the States and the of full power to Congress to guard against abuses, and in people, and is a measure which concerns the in:erest of sure to the people a sound, stable, and uniform currency, the people at large. and a fair and faithful administration of its affairs. Mr. Chair- If the people and the Stales, from a conviction of the man, I have no expectation of a national bank until de necessity and utility of such an institution, should call on manded by the voice of the nation ; nor is it desirable that Congress to establish a bank, on what ground could the Congress should act in advance of public opinion. I am President rightfully interfere ? Should this measure pass ready to act, at any time, when a majority shall feel satis- buth Houses of Congress in conformity to the public will, fied that their constituents are for it. I shall not be deter. I cannot believe it possible that he would venture a velo; red from pressing this subject on the consideration of this but should be, in defiance of the public will, do an House or the Executive by any intimation or menace he act so subversive of the great principle of self-governmay give of a veto, and I deny h's right in this way to dic- ment, for which our ancestors bled, I trust that another tate to or influence the deliberations of the legislative body. Patrick Henry will rise on this floor, and remind those In doing so he departs from the sphere of action assigned to clothed in a little brief authority here, that Cæsar had his him by the constitution of his country. From what part Brutus, Charles his Cromwell, and that they had better or clause of that instrument does he derive the right to tell profit by their fate. Sir, this menace of a veto has no the Legislature that he will not co-operate in measures precedent in our history, except an opinion expressed in a deemed by them necessary for the good of the people ? message of Mr. Monroe about the appropriation of money
The constitution makes it the duty of the President, for roads, for which he was censured by a friend on this from time to time, to give to the Congress information of floor. The British monarch would not dare to threaten a the state of the Union, and recommend to their considera. Parliament with a veto on a measure demanded by the tion such measures as he shall judge necessary and expe- voice and interest of the nation. The veto power, placed diunt; but on what part or clause he claims the right to as a shield to protect the Executive and other departments tell the Congress of those things they ought not, or shall against the invasions of the Legislature, and to stay, for a not do, I am yet to learn. The veto power was vested in moment, rash and intemperate action, was never designed the President to protect him against encroachments of hy our constitution to defeat the deliberate will of the nathe Legislature. It is, to the President, a conserva- tion in relation to measures of general interest. tive power, and may, on extraordinary occasions, le inter- I will not, Mr. Chairman, say any more, on this occaposed to stay, for a time, rash and intemperate measures sion, of the veto power or its exercise, but will proceed to proceeding from high party or popular excitement, and notice, very briefly, the amendment offered by a gentleman pregnant with very disastrous consequences to ine nation; from Virginia (Mr. Garland) to the bill under consideraand in such a possible case, not likely often to occur, the tion, for which, I repeat, I will vote, as the least of evils, President may interpose to throw back the subject on the and continue this Siate bank agency, whether the depos. consideration of the people; but when it goes through the ites are general or special, until the wisdom and experience crucible of investigation, and is presented as their settled of the nation shall provide a better. And here he would and deliberate will in relation to matters of concern to the take leave to reinark, that he felt proud that the Old Dominwhole nation, I cannot imagine a case where the President ion was the land of his birth, when he saw her representcould rightfully use his veto lo defeat the popular will; and atives stand forth, with manly firmness, regardless of parthe case is not materially different in regard to constitution - ty and the frowns of power, and resist measures of such danal questions. After the nation has long considered and de- gerous tendency; and he begged leave to assure them that liberately decided a const tutional question, the President he was not hostile to State banks; on the contrary, he hemust ci-operate with the legislative department, not as he lieved it was wise for every State to have hanks of solid understands it, but as understood by the intelligence of the capital, and under prudent management. He was not disgreat community, for whose benefit it was made. The pop-' posed, (continued Mr. P.) to impair the strength of the State Oct. 12, 1837.]
[H. og R.
Governments, because he held them to be essential pillars It is impossible for tho great body of the people to know of the temple of American liberty. While he was not pre- the condition or credit of all the local banks scattered over pared to go the whole length of nullification, his observa- this vast country; hence the necessity of a medium with tion of the course and tendency of this Government for a the national stamp on it. The people may be acquainted long period had convinced him that the strength of the with the condition, and have confidence in the banks of the State Governments must be maintained, and that they were State or neighborhood in which they live, but few can know the great bulwarks around which the people must occasion. much of distant institutions. ally rally to arrest the anti-republican tendencies to which In the most prosperous season of traile and business, the central power is liable in the hands of wickedness or when there existed little distrust of banks, it was difficult lv folly. At the same time that I express this view, with un- travel in different States with local notes, and they were feigned sincerity, I must be permitted to say, that the na- generally under par at a distance from the banks of issue, tional Government must be allowed the full and fair exer- and had to be sold to the brokers. Mr. P. said he could cise of all the powers assigned to it, according to a fair in not believe that this Government ought to be dependent on terpretation of the constitution, to enable it to accomplish the agency of banks not responsible to them, but under the the objects for which it was intended. The powers were control of the States, and he had other strong objections to granted to Congress to regulate commerce, external and this connexion ; but he preferred them to the plan under internal, and to coin money and regulate the value thereof, consideration. In addition to the olijections he had urged in exclusion of State power; and it would be a violation of against this bill, he would observe that these sub-treasuthe spirit and intent of the constitution to withhold from ries were to be dispersed over the country, and to be inCongress any of the means fairly necessary and proper, spected by the agents of the Secretary of the Treasury, and clearly adapted to carry into effect the objects of those and their reports, through him, would be all the informagrants of power to which I have referred. An unreasona- tion which it would be practicable for Congress to obtain. ble distrust or jealousy ought not to be indulged of this Gov. A large portion of the public money might be purloined ernment more than of other Governments created by the from these sub-treasuries, which it would be impossible for people, from whoin both State and National Governments Congress to detect, without sending committees to all these had emanated. Our national compact, whether of the distant places to examine things and count the money, and people in the aggregate, or by the States in their sovereign then, without an inspection of the whole, the most vigilant corporate capacities, ought to receive, especially in regard scrutiny could be eluded. It cannot be expected (said he) to powers and subjects to which the States are not compe-| that the members of this House can absent themselves from tent, fair and rational interpretation, to accomplish the their duties here so long, and encounter the labors such an object of the parties to it, instead of an over-strict, techni. examination would require. cal, or metaphysical one.
Mr. Chairman, we have now twenty-six States, with His conservative friends, he said, must pardon him, unlimited power to make banks beyond the direct control while he admired their manly independence, to say, with of Congress, and the banking system has taken such a deep great deference to their intelligence, that, according to his root in our country that it is the extreme of folly to think reflections on the subject of commerce and money, they are
of exterminating it; and if one State banks, another will, only half right. We agree, if I understand them, that an and this system must remain a permanent part of our doexclusive metallic medium will not answer over this exten- mestic policy. These banks furnish, and will continue to sive country; and that our social and commercial inter- furnish, local currencies for the people; and the inquiry is, cuurse and business requires a paper representative of gold whether this Government ought to guard them against the and silver, otherwise called bank money; for bank notes of evils of the system, and what are the best and most practiundoubted credit, and convertible everywhere into specie, cable ineans of doing so?. Every administration, commenare money, for all the purposes of human society. " If a cing with that of Washington, down to the present, has paper medium is necessary-if one is to be coined or considered it the sacred duty of this Government to use the manufactured for this people, I put the question to the best means in their power to cure disorders in the currency, candor and intelligence of those gentlemen and all other and insure to the people a stable and uniform measure of gentlemen on this floor, whether, according to the divisions value for commerce and contracts of every kind. Can it of power established between the State and national Gov. be expected, however we may get along in good times, that, ernments, that medium ought not to emanate from the in a commercial or pecuniary convulsion or war, these nuFederal instead of State authority? And if genilemen merous local banks can have general confidence in each could only free themselves from their commitments, and dis- other, or can be united and act with that concert which is regard of what is termed consistency here, they must re- necessary to sustain credit and confidence and a good unispond in the affirmative.
form currency during the shocks incident to periods of difCommerce and currency are certainly placod by the con- ficulty and danger! Alarm and distrust overspread the stitution within the sphere of national legislation, and the country ; moneyed men and holders of notes run on the paper medium or bank money representative ought to be banks, and force them to close their doors; business of issued by a national bank of universal credit and confi. every kind is suspended; thousands are thrown out of emdence, and on a foundation as firm as the Government ployment, and the public tranquillity endangered. A wise itself.
Government ought not to content themselves with the means It is cssential that any paper substitute for specie, to make of managing the vessel of state in pleasant seasons, and a currency over the whole nation, and convertible into when lemperate breezes only are to be met with, but should specie everywhere, must have a national character ; and I be prepared to keep her steady and moving in the great curnow put it to gentlemen, to answer whether it is possible to rent of the public interest in the most tempestuous scasons. make the notes of the banks of lwenty-six States current Throughout our past political history, the strong ground everywhere, and constitute a uniforin and stable currency taken against a national bank has been, that State banlis for this people? Is it in the power of this Government to would answer; for, at all times, it has been admitted that nationalize the notes of all these banks, however solvent bank agency was a necessary and important auxiliary to they may be, so as to give them a par value everywhere? | the fiscal and commercial operations of the country. Twice And if they cannot, the harvest of the brokers must con- bas that agency failed; twice, for a period of twenty years tinue, and the losses to the holders of notes must fall chiefly each, bas the agency of a national bank succeeded to the on the laboring, farming, and planting classes of the com- full extent of public expectation; and yet will those charged munity.
with the control of public affairs obstinately adhere to the Vol. XIV.--93
ground they have assumed. If gentlemen believe their con- to any State; they are the common property of the nation ;
venience have been generally admitted. I shall not enter Gentlemen must be sensible that, in the exigencies of at large into a discussion of this objection, nor have I war and the revulsions of trade, a national bank, with a the vanity to suppose that I could shed any new light competent capital, with well established credit and confi- on a question on which the intellectual powers of a Hamdence, at home and abroad, would be able, with the aid of ilton, a Gallatin, a Marshall, a Pinckney, a Crawford, the Government, to do more to sustain public and private a McDuffie, and a host of others, the most distinguished credil and confidence, keep the monelary system sound and statesmen of our republic, have been exhausted, supported regular, and avert the evils incident to the perils of war and by the cool and deliberate opinion of the Father of his counshocks in trade, than a thousand local insulated institutions, try, sanctioned three several times by large majorities of with no common head, jealous and afraid of each other, both Houses of Congress, and, at a late period, after a long which, in a moment of panic, would each revolve on its own trial of its utility and necessity, confirmed by the opinions axis, and take care of itself. What occurred twenty years of a Madison and Monroe, two of the elders of the Repubago, will occur again; when another bank shall be estab. lican church. One fact, often mentioned in the public lished, the small fictitious banks will be wound up; others of prints, and much relied on here, I must be permitted to sound capital will dissolve and subscribe their funds to a new notice; and that is, that the convention rejected a propobank, and those of yood and large capitals, freed from the sition to grant charters of incorporation. I have not excompetition of swindling institutions, will be able to do a amined the proceedings of that body; but, if the fact be as fsir business in harmony with a national institution. A stated, it proves nothing, because that proposition was for new bank, if established, will be required to locate branches, a general power to grant charters of incorporation. That one, at least, in every State, which will be particularly was, I think, very properly refused-nor is such a power advantageous to the Western and Southwestern States. contended for by the friends of the lank. It will be a sufThe capital and wealth of the South and West consists ficient set-off to that fact to state another, and that is, that chiefly of land, live stock, and slaves; and the people there in the same convention a proposition was made to grant are more disposed to vest the fruits of their industry in such Congress a power to emit bills of credit, and that it was property than in bank stock, yielding a moderate protit of rejected. Now, sir, it is well known that, during the late tive, six, or seven per cent.
war, Congress did issue bills of credit; and the bill passed The interest of money in the West is high ; in some of at the present session, to issue Treasury notes, approaches the States the legal interest is ten per cent., and the pen- very nearly, if not entirely, to bills of credit. ple of those States have little motive to put their capital in If it be fairiy necessary and proper to grant a charter banks, who must lend at five or six per cent.
to carry into effect any of the great powers granted erty of the commercial States consists, to a great extent, if such a measure is a necessary auxiliary to effectuate of money derived from the profits of trade, and they are other powers, and it has a fair relation tu them, then the willing to vest their capital in good stock, yielding a mol- bank is constitutional; and, if money is not to be had to erate profit; and they would prefer stock in a national bank, meet the depands of Government by taxes or loans, if it because more valuable, and under the protection of the con- is necessary to resort to an issuc of notes, then it may bo stitution and Government of the United States. Their cap- constitutional. I voted with much hesitation for this ital, through the bank, would be diffused over the nation, Treasury note bill, because it authorized a larger sur according to the demands of trade and business, and would than appeared necessary, and it seemed to me more conaid and encourage the trade, enterprise, and industry of the genial with the spirit of the constitution to borrow money West, and especially of the new States of the far West. directly than to do it indirectly; but as the amendIt would facilitate their exchanges and commerce, and ment to borrow directly failed, and the interest on the every branch of their industry, The traders from the in
notes gave it the appearance of a loan, I voted for it to terior States of the West to the South and West would be relieve the Treasury, and give some relief to the country. able to do their business in a currency which would pass I entered this House, with no disposition to find fault or everywhere, and remit their funds from place to place with embarrass the administration. I voted for indulging ihe out hazard or loss.
inerchants, and will give time to the banks to enable thern Sir, this bank, with its branches ditlused over our extend- to indulge the people, and would have voted for the posted country, part of the stuck belonging to the States, would ponement of the fourth instalınent provided the House had be a bond of union. Every may using a note of a national adopted the amendment offered, making it the duty of the bank, would, in feeling at least, be in soine degree identi- Secretary of the Treasury to pay the money at the period fied with the National Government. The power and in- lo which payinent is postponed; but, sir, I felt constrained, Hluence of such an institution is an objection urged by some, by a regard for principle and the public good, to exert my to wbich (Mr. P. said) he would answer that he believed feeble powers against the passage of this sub-'Treasury bili. that the State institutions exercised forty times as much in- Mr. Chairmin, I had more to say to this committee, ou fluence and power over the political affairs of the country the several subjecis embraced in this debate, but I feel too as had ever been used by both Banks of the United States. much exhausted to proceed, and will therefore conclude Nor can (continued he) any bank exercise one-hundredth with urging on the consideration of the representatives of the part of the power and influence which belongs to the Post people the propriety of postponing a final decision, on a Office Department aloue. The same objection of power ineasure of so much inportance, and involving principles was urged against a navy, at an early period of this Gov- of such great magnitude, until public opinion can be proernment; it was said that the navy would be an instrument nounced upon it. If the measure le doubiful in principle of power in the hands of the Government, but time and or policy, we ought to avoid the appearance of precipitancy ; experience had overruled all objections to this strong arm respect for our constituents, who have had no opporiuof our national desence. The navy is not only a weapon nity of making known their sentiments, and who are to be of defence and protection to our rights on the ocean, but a bound by this measure, require that the final action on this powerful bond of union. Our ships of war do not belong' bill should be suspended until the next session. Let us
Ост. 12, 1837.]
(H. or R.
think a little more ourselves, and afford our constituents an On the east side of the Atlantic, in the Spanish Cortes, opportunity of thinking and speaking also.
the question asked is, “Has not this subject been suffiBefore Mr. Pope had concluded his remarks, as given cienily debated ?" If this question is responded to by a entire in preceding pages, he was arrested by the hour, and majority of that body, an end is put to the discussion, and the House took its usual recess till 4 o'clock.
a vote taken on the main question. This is the operation EVENING SessioX.
of the rule for the previous question in this House : the
design of the motion is to ask the House if the sulject The Committee of the Whole met at lour o'clock, and under consideration has not been sufficiently debated, and had to wait long for a quorum. Mr. Pope had the Apor, cannot be enforced without a majority of the members but yielded it for a short time to
present. As the gentleman from Kentucky states that he' Mr. CUSHMAN, who observed that, as the gentleman merely alluded to bim as stating a fact, and not for the from Kentucky had made a personal allusion to him, he purpose of impugning the purity of his motives, Mr. C. would, with that gentleman's leave, say a word or two hy observed that he would close his remarks by stating, that, way of explanation. It is true, as that gentleman says, so long as his fellow-citizens of New Hampshire should that while the report of the Committee of Ways and Means provide him a seat upon this floor, he would faithfully and was under discussion, and after it had been debated during independently execute his political trust; and should any the morning hour for several days, he moved the previous gentleman, here or elsewhere, dare to question the purity question. It is true, also, that the honorable gentleman of his motives, he would pronounce him a base caluminafrom Kentucky asked him to withdraw the motion, that he Mr. C. was here interrupted by might make a few reinarks upon that subject, and he now Mr. WM. COST JOHNSON, who said that he rose complains that he was then prevented from so doing by the to a point of order. He said that he rose to arrest the curabove-mentioned motion.
rent of the honorable gentleman's remarks with great reMr. C. said there were two reasons why he did not com- luctance; but he considered them so out of place at this ply with that request. The first was, that there was around moment, that he was constrained to protest against their him a general desire that it should not be granted : and if further continuance. he had withdrawn it, the same motion would have been We are now, Mr. Chairman, (said Mr. J.,) within a renewed by some other gentleman. Secondly, that the few days of an adjournment, and have to decide upon an subject of a United States bank had, for the last five or important bill; and, in the midst of this discussion, the six years, been the common theme of discussion in every honorable gentleman from New Hampshire (Mr. Cushe' city, town, village, and hamlet in the country. It is true, MAN] thinks fit to consume ihe time of the House by dishe said, that several gentlemen, during this debate, bad de- cussing the merits of the previous question, which he callclared that the subject of a bank has not been before the cd some four or five days ago. Then was the time for people for their discussion, but it was the bank.
explanations, if the gentleman thought any necessary. But Mr. C. said if gentlemen would only go back to the re- his ohject was then to arrest explanations and discussion clection of the late venerable President of the United States, upon the merits of a resolution which the chairman of the they would find that that Presidential canvass was put Committee of Ways and Means thought fit to introduce, upon the question of bank or no bank. A bank, the bank, but was afraid to have discussed. And now the honorable or any bank, were all denounced by the people at that member from the Granite State feels a strong propensity time, as appears by the result of that election. It was the to enlarge upon it. Yes, sir, with great and peculiar empivot upon which that election turned. But if the subject phasis, he now discusses a bank and the bank, and called of establishing a bank was not before the people for con- the previous question upon it, after but one member had sideration at that time, the whole subject was before them spoken upon the subject. Why did not that gentleman during the election of the present Chief Magistrate of the use that nccasion (said Mr. J.) to discuss a bank and the United States.
bank ? He has edified the committee with his learning Mr. Van Buren, before the late Presidential election, in and research upon the history of the previous question ; pursuance of a call which was made upon him for that and after making a great display of his exalted patriotism purpose, declared, in the most unequivocal manner, that in defending the freedom of debate-and we must, in girhe could not sanction an institution of that character; and ing him the credit which he claims for the patriotism of This was the pivot, also, upon which that distinguished in- his notions, listen to his pretensions, and not judge him by dividual was elevated to the Presidency. Twice, there his acts—he refers us to the high authority which he has fore, have the people declared that a United States bank culled from the east side of the Atlantic. He has talked ought not to be established.
about Turkey, and has shown that he has precedent for Mr. C. observed that, from the course which he had the gag-law in the example of the Spanish Cortes. The thought proper to pursue, some gentlemen may have sup- gentleman is as unfortunate in his authority as he is in posed that he was disposed to check, unnecessarily, the the time of his using it. freedom of dehate. But he would assure gentlenien that The gentleman can find authority in the Spanish history they mistook his character altogether. He would go with for the inquisition; and from his readings of Spanish his. him who would go farthest to protect the great vital prin- tory, and adopting their principles for his standard of acciples of civil and religious liberty, the freedom of speech, tion in this hall, we may account very rationally why he the liberty of the press, and the right of petition. These has so often called the inquisitorial and detested previous sacred rights he never would yield but with the last breath question-the instrument of petty tyranny all over the of life.
world. And, to use the gentleman's own figure, he is the But there is a very wiile difference between the rightful “pivot” around which that question has so often wheeled exercise of these invaluable privileges, and a wilful abuse in this hall. But I urge the distinguished gentleman to of them. To correct this evil, this abuse, the rule regu- forbear in this discussion, for he has already reaped honors lating a call for the previous question was adopted as a enough in that barren field, for his head now blooms and part of the by-laws of this House; a rule which has ex- blossoms wi the glories of the previous question. isted ever since the formation of the General Government. (Here M:. Cushman rose, and said that his object was A siinilar rule has been adopted by several State Legis- not to consume the time of the House, but he had risen latures to correct the abuses which are the subject of so to explain, by the courtesy of the member from Kentucky, much complaint in this House. In fact, nothing of any [Mr. Popf,] who was entitled to tho floor. ] importance could be accomplished in this House without Mr. J. said that he utterly denied the right of the memsuch a law.
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(Oct. 12, 1837.
ber from Kentucky, or of any other member, to allow the the corruptions which were proved to exist in it. A spirit gentlemen from New Hampshire to consume the time of of intimidation then still lingered in this hall, and clearly the House, at this stage of our proceedings, in discussing manisested itself, I thought, on the night of that discussion; the merits of the previous question, which the gentleman for, during that session, a member had been waylaid on the from New Hampshire called some weeks ago. I have street and attacked for words spoken in debate ; and, but tried (said Mr. J.) several times to gain the foor, in order shortly before, other members had been beset and assaulted. to speak upon the bill now under debate, and have failed. I saw, or thought I saw, that there were members willing I wish to give my views upon it; but, knowing the propen- to place themselves between the officers of Government and sity of the honorable member whom I have interrupted to the members of this House who wished to scrutinize their call the previous question, I have no guaranty that I might official conduct. I was soon left alone on one side in that not be precluded from speaking at all. And if the gentle-exciting discussion, and, fancying I saw its result in adinan, whom I regard as a living personification of the pre- vance, took the distinct ground, when daggers were spovious question, will not desist from this discussion, I will ken but none used, that I was willing and ready to hold he constrained to use his own remedy upon himself, and myself responsible to any member of this House, or to any will call his own previous question upon him. I hope, in officer of Governinent, who migheimagine himself aggrieved concluding, that the gentleinan from Kentucky will be per- loy my strictures. That was the position I assumed-permitted to resume the flour.
haps rashly--but still it was the position. The next mornMr. POPE then resumed the course of his remarks, ing, in this Capitol, and before I entered this hall, I receivwhich he continued till long after lights had bcen brought ed in laconic note from the Postmaster General, by a gen. into the hall, when, being exhausted, he sank into his seat lleman whom I had never seen before, but whose bearing without having closed his speech.
convinced me that he was a gentleman. There was no A motion was now made for the committee to rise ; but threat written in it, but, from its peculiar brevity, I regarded
Mr. W. COST JOHNSON, having conferred with Mr. it as a threat; so did iwo honorable gentlemen of this Pops, stated that the gentleman had no objection to Mr. House to whom I submitted it. I felt it to be my duty to J.'s taking the floor at this time, in the confidence that the give it a very short answer. Soon after, I received a chalHouse, in the morning, would permit him to concludle his lenge from the son of the Postmaster General a gentleman remarks. Such seeming to be the general understanding, whom I have never seen in my life. I accepted it. By
Mr. JOHNSON rose and addressed the committee as the advice, I apprehend, of others, it was withdrawn. Ruföllows:
nor reached my ear that I was to receive some two or three Mr. Chairman : I return to the honorable member from more, and was to be caned by I know not how many. Kentucky (Gov. Popk] my thanks for yielding the floor to Under such circumstances, I would neither explain nor me before he has completed his remarks. After having authorize any friend to explain in my name, as an honorspoken for four hours, his physical energies have yielded able friend in this hall will well remember. The system before the rich abundance of his mind is exhausted on this of interrogatories I dislike at best; but, according to my interesting question. I feel (said Mr. J.) how perilous sense of propriety, I can never bring myself to answer my situation is in attempting to follow the learned and dis. them when ihey are blended with even the shadow of a tinguished . At this threat.
in session, I am strongly apprehensive that I may not cumpen- and the restraining circunstances of the affair have passed sale then for any portion of their altention. I must there- away, I embrace the opportunity which the remarks of the fore throw myself upon their magnanimity. But before I honorable member have afforded me, to say, in my place, enter upon the subject under discussion, I feel it a duty that I never designed to charge the Postmaster General which I owe to myself and to others, to give a passing no- with peculation, though I was unwilling to excepi hii tice to an observation which fell from the honorable member from the charge (of which I had proof enough to convince who last addressed the committee.
my judgment) that it did exist at that time in the DeThe honorable member remarked, in the course of his partment. I deemn it due to myself, due to those whom oliservations, in substance, that the friends of the adminiş. he has left behind him, his relations and friends and the tration, or some of them, had said that the opposition had honorable member as one of those friends—to say, that I a few years ago made charges against the Post Office De- had no proof that he was corrupt, nor do I believe that he partment, and, among others, his friend, the late Postmas- was a corrupt man in the moral or legal sense of the term. ter General; and that the administration sacrificed some of The most that I meant to say was, that when corruption the members of that Department (at least the chief clerk) was proved to exist in a department, the censure should to the avenging deity of the relentless opposition. I do fall with the heaviest force upon the head of that 'departnot for one moment suppose (said Mr. J.) that the honor- ment, if he did not suspend the guilty subordinate.' able gentleman purposed any personal applicat of his But I disiniss this subject, now and finally, and will atremarks to any particular member of the opposition, but tempt to approach that immediately under debate. spoke of the opposition as a party. But having been a Mr. Chairman, (said Mr. J.,) when Sir Walter Scott member of the twenty-third Congress, when the adminis- was asked why it was that he had not written the life of tration of the Post Office Department was made a subject the Emperor Napoleon in one instead of three volunies, of special examination, and the report upon that examina- he answered, because he had not time! And if I should tion was subinitted to this House, I felt it my duty to take trespass upon the kind indulgence of the committee a little an humble part in a debate in this hall in relation to the longer than it may think judicious, I beg the committee to abuses committed in that Department. And my name receive in advance, as my apology, that I have not had having been thrown before the public in connexion with time to investigate, in all its bearings, the important subthat discussion, and with a collision with the late Postmas-ject before us, and to arrange my reflections in perspicuous ter General and his son, I feel warranted in now alluding brevity, which is the best proof I know of a familiar knowltu it, from what has been said, and in giving an explana- edge of a subject. tion which circumstances at the time rendered it impossi- Day and night have we been occupied in this hall, for ble for me to do.
weeks past, without hardly taking respite for sleep, in in. When a bill was uncler discussion in this House giving, vestigating the important bills which have been crowded as I thought, increased patronage to that Department, I upon our attention ; with not even time to eat with comtook vccasion to oppose its passage, and to animadvert upon 'fort, and with scarcely a spare hour to read the budgets