Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

April 24, 1834.)

President's Protest.

[SEXATE.

right of the Senate to receive it, and spread it upon the larly-established law of the land. Here, then, was truly Journal; for however much we complain of the want of an act of usurpation. One House of Congress, by resolupower in others, we seldom deny to ourselves the authori. tion, amending a law of the United States. ty to do any thing. I place the right of the Senate to Having thus made a law to suit themselves, gentlemen comply with the President's request to cause the protest declare that the President has violated it, and the constito be spread upon the Journals, upon its unquestioned tution also, because of the part he has taken to accomand unquestionable power over its own Journal. The plish the removal of the public funds. Now, sir, it is easy President has no right to interfere with the Journal in any to make out a charge of usurpation upon another, if you way, and therefore he appeals, in the form of a request, to first usurp authority sufficient to lay the foundation of the your justice, to cause the protest to be placed side by side charge. 'It is literally a charge of usurpation founded with your resolution.

upon usurpation. Having in this manner laid the requisite It has been urged that the doctrines of the protest are foundation, the Senate passed the resolution against which unsound, its objects and designs impure, and that it is a the President thinks it his right and duty to protest, and declaration of war against the Senate. If this be all true, defend himself. That resolution declares that the Presi. it would seem to be good policy in us to make these un-dent, in the late Executive proceedings in relation to the sound doctrines and impurities of object and design as public revenue, bad assumed upon himself authority and conspicuous and as durable as possible, that the world power not conferred by the constitution and laws, but in may know, and that posterity may justify, the defensive derogation of both; and it is because he has sent us a deoperations of the Senate.

fence against this declaration, in the mildest and most reSuppose, however, sir, that the judgment of the coun-spectful terms, that he is charged now with making war try, as to these doctrines, objects, and designs, should be upon this body. That the principles and arguments upon different; that the people should believe them sound and which his defence rests, are at war with the grounds asirreproachable, in what condition, then, will the Senate sumed in support of the resolution, there can be no doubt. be placed? Will not the world suppose the reasons of In this sense, and in this sense alone, does a war exist, and our refusal to receive and record this document to be, the declaration of it came unquestionably from the Senate. that we could not controvert the principles, answer the The Senate first charge him with a violation of the conarguments, and prove the charges, of impurity of mo- stitution, and all he has done has been to send us his vintive and design? Depend upon it, sir, that'the people of dication. He has not only been accused and found guilty this country will not be pleased with efforts to degrade by this body of violating the constitution and laws, without the President, unless such efforts have for their solid an opportunity of defence, but the resolution itself implies foundation, truth, justice, reason, necessity, and patriot- design and criminal intentions. The fact of violation is ism.

averred in terms without qualification; and what is the One gentleman has declared the paper in question to legal inference to be drawn from the finding of the fact, be a declaration of war against the Senate. Mild in its the naked fact, without extenuation? Was it intended to terins, to be sure, as all declarations of war between mod say that he did so innocently and ignorantly? If so, you ern powers are required to be, by the courtesy of nations. draw a distinction, unknown to our constitution and laws, Yet it is a declaration of war. I am totally at a loss to ac- between the highest officer in the Government, who is count for this opinion, unless, indeed, we take into view supposed to be well acquainted with the laws of the land, the statement so repeatedly made here, that the President and the lowest of our citizens. The rule universally aphad made war upon the bank. If that be true, if gentle-plied to crime is, that ignorance does not excuse it. If men have entered into the war as its allies, surely it is in this were not so, few crimes would be punished. The glorious in them to complain that the auxiliary is treated Senator from Virginia (Mr. LEIGH) was understood to say in the same manner as the principal. If they have made that indictments for crimes always charged a criminal init a common cause, they must abide together the common tent; and from thence the inference was drawn, that the fortunes of the contest.

resolution in question was not a charge of designed violaLet us, however, examine the facts in relation to this tion. Is this resolution of the nature of an indictment? charge, though I shall be compelled to repeat some things The Senate has no power to originate prosecutions of often repeated. I shall do it in so brief a manner, as not any kind. It is the jury which finds the fact, and the to be fatiguing. The sixteenth section of the bank law court which pronounces judgment. When a crime is confers, in terms, upon the Secretary of the Treasury, the proved to have been committed, the inference is neces. right to remove the public moneys from the Bank of the sarily drawn that the intent was criminal, and the accused United States, requiring him to give his reasons therefor is thrown upon the necessity of proving facts inconsistent

to Congress. The terms of the law conferring this power with the inference. If the speeches made by legislators • are as general as the English language could make it; and in favor of the passage of laws, or of the adoption of res

the power given is without limitation as to time or condi- olutions, may be referred to as evidence of their meantion. Yet the Senate, being one branch only of the Le-ing, I need not remind the Senate that a most prolific gislature, have, in effect, interpolated this section of the source of proof is before us, to show that the violation bank law with an entire sentence, so as to limit the exer- charged was meant to be a wilful, arbitrary, tyrannical cise of this power of removal to two conditions, namely, one. when the deposites are unsafe, or when the bank fails to But, sir, will any man, after examining precedents, say, comply with the pos tive requirements of the charter, in that, had the House of Representatives sent us an imtransferring the public moneys whenever and wherever it peachment against the President in the very words of this may be required by the Government. I will not detain resolution, so far as the point before us is involved, that you by repeating the unanswered reasons repeatedly given, the Senate would have refused to arraign, try, and conto show that it is impossible Congress could ever have demn the accused, for the want either of jurisdiction or consented to part with the public funds upon such grounds. of an expressed charge of criminal intent? No, sir, the If Congress intended to confine the action of the Secretary language which all Senators would use, would be, that to these two contingencies, would it not have done so? the intent was implied, and that the accused must clear That body was composed of men who could read and limself from its effects by proof. I shall bave occasion write and express their will. Yet we find a general power hereafter to advert to a precedent to show what has been given, instead of this limited, restrained power.

in this respect pursued in impeachments. After this view The fixing this limitation by the Senate required a vir- of this part of ile subject, it will be perceived, that if the tual interpolation, by one branch of Congress, of a regu- Senate has not convicted the President of a criminal vio

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

lation of his duty, with pursuing the regular constitutional did not report upon it at all. Already have five months course, the members voting for the resolution bave, at of the session elapsed, and not a word about the legislaleast, forever disqualified themselves from being his triers tive action has been heard, except the mere assertion reupon a regular prosecution for this alleged violation offerred to, in contradiction to the President's allegation. duty, by forming and expressing an opinion of his guilt. Sluggish legislators indeed! One prediction I will venAnd whether the one or the other of these things has ture upon, that, if the Senate continues its session five been done, the constitution has been equally and fla- months longer, we shall not see a legislative proposition grantly violated.

brought forward in this body, to carry into effect any ob. Gentlemen object to receiving this protest, because ject whatever connected with this resolution. And for they say it is an appeal to the people. If by this is meantlihe most decisive of all reasons, viz, in its very nature it thai the President is desirous to submit, in a spirit of can. cannot be the subject of legislation. If it can, 1 should dor and decency, to the people of the United States, be glad to be informed how. The protest, therefore, is whose servant he is, an account of his stewardship in this no interference with any business pending before the matter of the bank, and to justify himself before those Senate. who have a right to call him to an account for his conduct Another objection is made to receiving this paper, for in relation to it, the charge is true. He is neither afraid the reason that it contains the proceedings and resolutions nor ashamed to acknowledge that all his powers are de- of the Legislatures of three of the States of this Union, rived from the people, and that he is accountable to them. approving, in the most unequivocal terms, the course of If he has consulted their substantial and durable pros- the Executive, which has been here the subject of conperity, by interposing his character, and the constitution demnation. It also states the fact, truly, that four Senof his country, soundly construed, between the power of ators from these States voted for the resolution, and that gold and the pending destruction of the liberties of his had their votes been cast against it, it would not have constituents, it is his duty to maintain himself, by the ex. been adopted. But the President, in thus referring to hibition of the truths and reasons by which he has been these resolutions and instructions, expressly disclaims and governed. It will be for the people to decide now, and repudiates all authority or design to interfere with the reafter he shall have left his station, upon the wisdom of sponsibility due from members of the Senate to their own his actions and the virtue of his motives.

consciences, their constituents, and their country. Yet Whatever politicians may say, Washington, the Father gentlemen charge him, notwithstanding this emphatic of his country, was not ashamed to appeal to the people disclaimer, with the very design he repudiates. Where a for their judgment upon his official conduct. I state upon pure and justifiable motive can be assigned for any par. the authority of Mr. Jefferson, contained in the fourth ticular transaction, it is the part and course of innocence volume of his works, that, in 1793, when the country was and justice to assign it, rather than a corrupt one. convulsed upon the subject of Mr. Genet's conduct, who This is more especially necessary to avoid the suspicion was the minister of France near the Government of the that we reason from our own infirmities to those of others. United States, when party violence ran high, and when Is it at all strange that the Executive, attacked in all the his cabinet were divided as to the proper course to be various ways which an ingenious and talented opposition pursued with regard to him, and other questions of a polit-could devise, and who had been condemned, too, by a ical nature, in a discussion which took place in his cabi. vote of a co-ordinate branch of the Government, should, net, Washington “manifestly inclined to the appeal to in the progress of a defence against his accusers and their the people." His own character and motives had been accusations, avail himself of all the respectable authorities impeached, and, during the same discussion, the Father within his reach, to sustain the soundness of his princiof his country complained of “the personal abuse which ples, and the correctness of his conduct? And what auhad been bestowed upon bim," and he “defied any man thority, in this country, is more to be relied on, in the on earth, to produce one single act of his, since he had construction of the constitution, than that of the States been in the Government, which was not done on the of the Union, who alone have the power to alter and purest motives; that he had never repented but once, amend it? The President says that the facts belong to the having slipped the moment of resigning his office, the history of the proceedings, and are important to the and that was every moment since;" that “ he had rather just development of the principles and interests involved be in his grave than in bis present situation; that he had in them, as well as to the proper vindication of the Execrather be on his farm than be made emperor of the utive department. No other motive could have existed world;" “and yet, that they were charging him with than the one stated. All the facts were known to the wanting to be a king.” What a striking parallel is here world; had been avowed by the Senators concerned, on observed between the personal abuse heaped upon Pres- this floor, and they justified their continued disobedience ident Washington and General Jackson. Yet they both to the instructions of their several Legislatures. The * agree upon the propriety of appealing to the people, as object of the President was, to present to the country the just and appropriate judges of their conduct and his defence in a connected form, and in a mode, too, motives.

which would perpetuate it through all time to come. The President says in his protest, with regard to the Mr. President, it has been anticipated by one gentlecondemnatory resolution, “ It asserts no legislative power; man, that a proposition is to come from some quarter, to proposes no legislative action.” To my infinite surprise, so alter the constitution as to give the several States the one or two Senators have declared that legislative action power to recall their Senators. Upon that subject, I was intended. The discussion upon the resolution was have this to say: that whenever I am convinced that, by carried on here for about four months. It was repeatedly the election of Senators, the States part, irrevocably, for asserted, by friends of the administration, as an argu- the term of six years, with the right of being truly repre. ment against the continuance of the discussion, and the sented on this floor, I shall advocate such an amendment adoption of the resolution, that it proposed no legislative of the constitution as will correct so fatal an evil. If there action: this was never denied; nor did any one Senator, is any branch of this Government which represents, more within my hearing, intimate, during the whole period, exclusively than any other, the sovereignty of the States, that any legislation was to grow out of its adoption. This that branch is the Senate of the United States. And whenresolution was referred to the Committee on Finance, an ever I discover that the sovereign power in a State canappropriate committee to report the plan of action. Yet not instruct their representatives here, or, when instruct the committee reported no legislative proposition; in ed, that there is no corresponding duty of obedience on truth, sir, they disregarded this resolution altogether, and the part of the representatives, I shall u-se my humble

April 24, 1834.)

President's Protest.

(SENATE.

[ocr errors]

efforts to produce an amendment of the constitution, to traordinary pretensions which any branch of any free Govembrace both of these indispensable requisites of a free ernment ever set up, is the one contained in one of the government. I will not now, sir, enter into the question, resolutions declaring that the President had violated the whether, for the purposes of instruction, the Legislature, privileges of the Senate, for daring to question the infalor the people of a State, constitute the sovereign power. libility of their opinions and decisions. "Gentlemen, too, But I beg leave to read to the Senate a few paragraphs with a wisdom and research which marks the course of from a report of the Virginia Legislature, adopted some the opposition to the present administration, refer us to years ago, upon this very subject. This report expresses the British history of parliamentary proceedings, to show the views I entertain upon this point—is beautifully, and that the King cannot interfere with pending subjects of in my judgment, unanswerably written. After tracing legislation before the House of Lords! the doctrine of instruction down through English history, Yet, we bave not been shown a case where the Lords and showing that the whigs of England acknowledged have considered their privileges violated by the King's the right, (whatever our new-light whigs lately sprung sending his defence and protest to them upon a matter in amongst us may think of it,) and after showing, in the determined, and no longer pending in a legisiative shape, clearest manner, that the right of the constituent to in- as was the case with the resolution against which our restruct the representative is an essential principle of the publican President protests. representative system, the report proceeds to say: “But Let us examine, however, the British doctrine of paralthough the position be admitted, which, indeed, it seems liamentary privilege. The only definition of privilege impossible to deny, that the people have a right to in which I have ever met with, is that given by Sir Jolin struct our immediate representatives, or that the people Fortesque, described by Blackstone, as follows: composing each State in their sovereign capacity, may “ The privileges of Parliament are likewise very large inst suct their Senators in Congress, it may still be denied and indefinite. And, therefore, when, in 31 Henry Sixth, than the State Legislatures have any such right of instruc. the House of Lords propounded a question to the Judges

concerning them, the Chief Justice, Sir John Fortesque, “It is obvious to remark, in the first place, that those in the name of his brethren, declared that they ought not who allow to the people of each State the exercise of this to make answer to that question; for it hath not been act of sovereignty, the instruction of their Senators, and used aforetime, that the justices should in any wise deterdeny the same power to the State Legislatures, give us the mine the privileges of the high court of Parliament. For empty theory and deny us the beneficial practice of such it is so bigh and mighty in its nature, that it may make law; instructions. It is difficult to conceive how the people and that which is law, it may make no law; and the decan give such instructions, otherwise than through their termination and knowledge of that privilege belongs to State Legislatures."

the Lords of Parliament, and not to the justices." “The several State constitutions, saving to the people To exemplify this doctrine, I have looked into the practhe sole right to alter, amend, or abolish the forms of tice of the British Parliament upon this their

theory, and government-saving certain other great natural rights, now beg leave to read to the Senate a case from an old which the Legislatures are forbidden to touch-and ex: standard English work, called “Lex Parliamentaria.cepting certain powers specified in the constitution of “Johnson, a servant to Sir James Whitlock, a member the United States, which are transferred by the people of the Commons House, was arrested upon an execution and by the States, from the State Governments to the by Moore and Lock, who, being told that Sir James General Government, do certainly vest in the State Legis- Whitlock was a Parliament man, Fulk, one of the proselatures every power and attribute of sovereignty, which cutors, said, he had known greater men's men than Sir the people themselves would otherwise exercise in per- James Whitlock's taken from their masters' heels in Parson. Those Legislatures are, in fact, in the daily exer- liament times. This appearing, Lock and Moore were cise of all powers belonging to the State sovereignty, called into the bar, and by the judgment of the House except those thus forbidden to them. Now, the power were sentenced, first, that at the bar they should ask forto instruct the Senators of the States in Congress, has giveness of the House and of Sir James Wbitlock, on not been forbidden by the State constitutions to the State their knees, secondly, that they should both ride upon Legislatures, and retained by the people in their own one horse, bare-backed, back to back, from Westminster hands."

to the Exchange, with papers on their breasts, and this “Therefore, the State Legislatures may exercise this inscription: For arresting a servant of a member of the act of sovereignty, this right of instructing their Sena- Commons House of Parliament; and this to be done setors, as properly as they may exercise any of those pow. denti curia. Which sentence was pronounced by Mr. ers which they exercise daily without any doubt about Speaker against them at the bar, upon their knees.” their right, and which yet are not granted to them by any Thus we see, Mr. President, something of the characexpress delegation."

ter of the privileges of an English Parliament, and it is Other objections have been taken to the protest hardly by the aid of such authority that we are now called upon worth mentioning, because they are so totallv groundless. to decide that the President of the United States has For instance, it has been said that the President refers to committed a breach of the privileges of the Senate, in his oath of office as a source of power. Upon referring virtue of our power derived from our English prototype, to the paper, you find that the oath of office is referred to make that which is law no law, and vice versa. Can to only by way of attesting the importance of the duties we appeal to nothing more rational? Have not the fra. of the Executive office in the view of the framers of the mers of our constitution given us all the security which constitution.

reason and liberty require? The constitution has secured The resolutions now before us, charge upon the Presi- to each House of Congress, in express terms dent another violation of the constitution, in sending to

1st. The privilege of freedom from arrest of the perus his defence and protest, for which he is now upon trial sons of members. again, without any opportunity of defending himself, and 2d. Exemption from question elsewhere for what is he is about to be tried and condemned for presenting a said in the House. paper which we may, and probably shall, refuse to re 3d. Power over their own members and proceedings. ceive. So inexpressibly sublimated is the dignity of this As illustrative of this view of our privileges, suffer me august body, that we may well expect a proposition to to read an extract from Jefferson's Manual: condemn the Executive for violations of the constitution, “ The editor of the Aurora baving, in his paper of Febwhenever he shall look at the Capitol. But of all the ex-ruary 19t!!, 1800, inserted some paragraphs defamatory

SENATE.]

President's Protest.

(APRIL 24, 1834.

of the Senate, and failed in his appearance, he was or- to make, and at the same time apply the law, is open to dered to be committed. In debating the legality of this question and consideration, as are all new laws. Perbaps order, it was insisted, in support of it, that every man, by Congress, in the mean time, in their care for the safety of the law of nature, and every body of men, possesses the the citizen, as well as that for their own protection, may right of self-defence; that all public functionaries are es declare by law what is necessary and proper to enable sentially invested with the powers of self-preservation; them to carry into execution the powers vested in them, that they have an inherent right to do all acts necessary and thereby hang up a rule for the inspection of all which to keep themselves in a condition to discharge the trusts may direct the conduct of the citizen, and at the same time confided to them; that, whenever authorities are given, test the judgments they shall themselves pronounce in the means of carrying them into execution are given by their own case." necessary implication; that thus we see the British Parlia- I take it for granted, that, until Congress shall pass laws ment exercise the right of punishing contempts; all the regulating its privileges, we must look alone at the enuState Legislatures exercise the same power; and every merated grants of privileges in the constitution, and to court does the same; that if we have it not, we sit at the the ordinary judicial tribunals, for our necessary pro. mercy of every intruder who may enter our doors or tection and safety. The only interference with the docgallery, and by noise and tumult, render proceeding in trines of Mr. Jefferson, upon this point, happened in a business impracticable; that, if our tranquillity is to be decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, in the perpetually disturbed by newspaper defamation, it will case of Anderson vs. Dunn. Although that opinion does not be possible to exercise our functions with the re- not, in the slightest degree, touch the privilege now 3n- ! quisite coolness and deliberation; and that we must, the first time claimed in this or any other country, yentherefore, have a power to punish these disturbers of our must say, I am not reconciled to its doctrines. I undated peace and proceedings.

stand the doctrine of that case to be, not only that we .« To this it was answered, that the Parliament and power of punishment for contempts is implied from ito courts of England have cognizance of contempts by the cessity, but that the degree of punishment is only limited express provisions of their law; that the State Legislatures " to the least possible power adequate to the end”have equal authority, because their powers are plenary; which can mean nothing more nor less than a power of they represent their constituents completely, and possess punishment to any extent which the offended party may all their powers, except such as their constituents have deem adequate. expressly denied them; that the courts of the several That case, however, furnishes a principle totally at war States liave the same powers by the laws of their States, with the present charge upon the President, of breach of and those of the Federal Government by the same State privilege. The court declare “that it cannot be denied laws adopted in each State, by a law of Congress; that that the power to institute a prosecution must be denone of these bodies, therefore, derive those powers from pendent upon the power to punish.” What punishment, natural or necessary right, but from express law; that let me ask, can one co-ordinate branch of this GovernCongress have no such natural or necessary power, or any ment inflict upon another? We can have no hesitation in powers but such as are given them by the constitution; deciding upon what some of his triers for this breach of ihat that has given them, directly, exemption from per- privilege would deem “adequate" punishment, if the sonal arrest, exemption from question elsewhere for what power to punish existed. More than one of his triers have is said in their House, and power over their own mem- already declared, that President Jackson has done that, bers and proceedings; for these no further law is neces- in regard to this bank, which, if done by a British monsary - the constitution being the law; that, moreover, by arch, would have brought his head to the block. Most the article of the constitution which authorizes them to righteous and merciful judges! The President's only ofmake all laws necessary and proper for carrying into exe- fence is, that he has presented a view of his own rights cution the powers vested by the constitution in them,' and powers, in opposition to the expressed opinions of they may provide by law for an undisturbed exercise of the Senate, which no Senator has or can answer, except their functionsme. g. for the punisbment of contempts, or by declaring that be bas been guilty of a breach of priviaffrays or tumult in their presence, &c.—but, till the law lege! And this result is arrived at, not from any view be made, it does not exist, and does not exist from their of our own constitution and laws, but from researches into own neglect; that in the mean time, however, they are the unadulterated nonsense of the privileges of a British not unprotected, the ordinary magistrates and courts of Parliament. law being open and competent to punish all unjustifiable Should we not rather consult the good sense of our own disturbances or defamations, and even their own sergeant, times, and if we can find no precedents in the history of who may appoint deputies ad libitum to aid him (3 Grey our own proceedings, we shall not disgrace ourselves by 59, 147, 255) is equal to small disturbances. That in re- limitating ibe examples of our State Legislatures. I have quiring a previous law, the constitution bad regard to the come across a parallel case: I mean to say parallel in every inviolability of the citizen, as well as of the member: as, point of view where any essential principle is involved, in should one House, in the regular form of a bill, aim at too the legislative history of that firmly democratic and digni. broad privileges, it may be checked by the other, and fied State of Pennsylvania. The late venerable Governor both by the President; and also as, the law being promul- of that Commonwealth, who was one of the signers of the gated, the citizen will know how to avoid offence. But Declaration of Independence, lived, also, as does our Pres. if one branch may assume its own privileges without con- ident, in high pariy times, when « inter factiones leges trol; if it may do it on the spur of the occasion, conceal silent.Amongst other violent persecutions, he was the law in its own breast, and after the fact committed, charged, in 1807, with having violated the constitution, make its sentence both the law and the judgment on that and articles of impeachment were reported against him by fact; if the offence is to be kept undefined, and to be de- a committee of the House of Representatives, and most of clared only ex re nata, and according to the passions of these articles said nothing in terms of a criminal intent. the moment, and there being no limitation, either in the At a subsequent session, in 1808, this report was taken manner or measure of the punishment, the condition of up and indefinitely postponed. After this decision, lus the citizen will be perilous indeed. Which of these doc- biographer informs us that trines is to prevail, time will decide. Where there is no on the next day, the Secretary of the Commonwealth fixed law, the judgment on any particular case is the law presented a replication from the Governor, relative to the of that particular case only, and dies with it. When a charges exhibited against him by the committee, which, new and even a similar case arises, the judgment which is being read, Mr. Sergeant inquired whether the commu.

APRIL 24, 1834.)

President's Protest.

(SENATE.

nication would be inserted on the Journal? A variety of disquisition upon many of the constitutional powers and objections being made to this measure, a motion was duties of the Executive, and, upon repeated reference to made by Mr. Sergeant, and seconded by Mr. Ingham, it, it has been found to bear ihe cautious scrutiny of unthat the message be inserted at large on the Journal. On impassioned judgment, and to furnish a safe, a clear, and the question being taken, it was determined in the af. a useful guide in the elucidation of cases involving points farmative.” The biographer then goes on to say: similar to those which he professes to discuss."

"The defence of Mr. McKean offers a bright contrast Is the case before us to be distinguished from that of to the report of his accusers; and we cannot refrain from Governor McKean on the ground ibat his reply was to extracting its exordium, as an evidence of the dignity articles prepared by a committee, instead of its having with which he repelled unestablished denunciations, of been a reply to a resolution of the House itself? if any the moderation and magnanimity which he displayed authority for this discrimination can be found, I will give throughout the replication, and of the self-command and up the precedent. Have we not received protests from respect which forbade him to descend to the language the Legislatures of South Carolina and Georgia, charging of his enemies. • A long and dangerous illness,' he be upon us violations of the constitution, in passing tariff laws, gins, “the sympathy of friends, and the advice of physi- and have we not entered the protests upon our Journals? cians, deprived me of an opportunity to peruse the Jour- Before we get round the force of the precedent, we must nal, or to have the least knowledge of the proceedings in resort to the authority of Fortesque, and declare that to

relation to an impeachment of my official conduct, for be no law which we have declared to be law. Let us, in more than a month after the termination of the last ses. Mr. President, give up this idle and disgusting claim of strsion of the General Assembly. And, since that period, privilege, and enter this protest upon the Journal, and con proper respect for the exercise of constitutional powers answer it dispassionately, like rational men, if we can, and

has restrained every disposition, on my part, to answer let our fellow-citizens, whose heads are not yet turned by the the charges which have been exhibited against me, while an exhibition of the glories of the privileges of an English those charges continued a subject of deliberation. But House of Lords, decide the matter between the President the delicacy which has thus recognised your constitution, and the Senate. al jurisdiction, must not be allowed to absorb every con. I cannot conclude, sir, without remarking upon the sideration that is due to my own fame, to the feelings of unkind criticisms of gentlemen upon the allusions which my family, and to the opinion of the world. The accusa- the President makes, in justification of his patriotic motion, though not confirmed by the ultimate vote of the tives, to the enduring memorials of that contest in which House, has been deliberately framed, has been openly American liberty was purchased, which he now bears discussed, and will pass, among the legitimate records, upon his bosom. This, too, is charged to have been done into the hands of our constituents, and our posterity, with with the low design of enlisting the feelings of the peoall its concomitant semblance of proof, and asperity of ple on his side in this controversy, if controversy it must animadversion. The decision that expresses your renun-be called, and some doubts have even been expressed as ciation of the impeachment, affects me, indeed, with its to its truth. Enumerat vulnera miles. Let the soldier justice and its independence; but it is a decision which count his wounds without reproach. If this be crime, precludes the employment of the regular means of de and a breach of privilege too, is there a revolutionary offifence, before a competent tribunal, and, therefore, com cer or soldier living, who is not equally guilty? Search pels me, for the purpose of vindication, to claim a page your records, and ransack the pigeon-holes of your Secrein the same volume that serves to perpetuate against me tary's office, find the name of every one who has presentthe imputation of official crimes and misdemeanors. It cd a petition to you, and then send your sergeant-at-arms is incompatible, gentlemen, with my view of the solemnity to bring them into your chamber. Arraign, try, conof the occasion, to descend to the language of invective demn, punish, and incarcerate them; then put a tongue or complaint. By exposing the depravity of other men, in every wound you see, and teach it to sing hosannahs to I should do little to demonstrate my own'innocence; and the all pervading, all-absorbing, transcendent, omniscient, an expression of sensibility at any personal indignity that omnipotent privileges of the Senate. It is the duty of has been inflicted, might be construed into an encroach- patriotism to ask the remnant of our revolutionary vete. ment upon the freedom of legislative debate. But the rans to leave us all the evidences of the hardships and dantenor of my public and private life will, I hope, be suf- gers of the struggle through which they passed. Never ficient to repel every vague and declamatory aspersion. did Desdemona listen with

a more greedy ear to the tales The discernment of our constituents will readily detect of Othello's disastrous chances, than we, in our childhood, any latent motive of hatred and malice. The justice of to the recitals of the battles, sieges, and fortunes of our the Legislature upholds an ample shield against the spirit revolutionary heroes: “so well their words become them of persecution; and the conscious rectitude of my own as their wounds; they smacked of honor both.” When mind will yield a lasting consolation, amidst all the vicissi- they have gone, let us repeat their stories to our progeny, tudes of popular favor and applause.' • That I may have till we see the tear of gratitude glistening in their eyes, erred in judgment; that I may have been mistaken in my and their countenances lighted up with a glow of patriotgeneral views of public policy; and that I may have been ism direct from the heart. Then turn to them the other deceived by the objects of executive confidence, or be- side of the tapestry. Show them the envy, malice, un. nevolence, I am not so vain nor so credulous as to deny; charitableness, and mad ambition of the wreich, in human though, in the present instance, I am still without the form, who never perilled a hair in his country's service, proof, and without the belief; but the firm and fearless stretching out his sacrilegious hand to snatch a laurel from position which I take, invites the strictest scrutiny, upon the silvered brow of the aged warrior, sinking to his eter

fair exposition of our constitution and laws, into the nal rest. sincerity and truth of the general answer given to my May our venerable President live to count his wounds, accusers—that no act of my public life was ever done “longer than I have time to tell his years;" and when froin a corrupt motive; nor without a deliberate opinion old time shall lead him to his end, “patriotism, goodness, that the act was lawful and proper in itself.' Mr. McKean and he, fill up one monument.” then proceeds, in a circumstantial and irresutable manner, When Mr. Kane had concluded separately to repel the charges of the committee; and Mr. BIBB obtained the floor, but yielded it to Mr. triumphantly to vindicate his character, in every particu- WILKINS, who moved to postpone the consideration of lar, from the aspersions with wbich it had been assailed. the special order until to-morrow, and to make it the spe. This replication comprehends a very learned and masterly cial order for tomorrow. The motion was agreed to.

Vol. X --93

« ZurückWeiter »