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the executive, upon the terms of the constitution, in convening the legislature. If this doctrine is maintained, where will it lead to—what kind of emergency must exist before the constitution will authorize the governor to call the legislature ? Is the preservation of our national faith a matter of such trivial moment? Is the fulfilment of the public engagements domestic and foreign of no consequence ? Must we wait for the fleets of the United Netherlands or of France to enforce the observance of them, before the executive will be at liberty to give the legisla. ture an opportunity of deliberating on the means of their just demands ? This is straining the indefinite words of the constitution to a most unreasonable extreme. It would be a tenable position to say that the call of the United States is alone sufficient to satisfy the idea of an extraordinary occasion. It is easy to conceive, that such a posture of European affairs might exist, as would render it necessary to convene the different legislatures to adopt measures for the public safety, and at the same time inexpedient to disclose the object till they were assembled. Will we say that congress would be bound to communicate the object of their call to the executive of every state? or that the executive of this state, in complying with their request, would be guilty of a violation of the constitution? But the present case is not that of a mere general request ; it is specifically to deliberate upon an object of acknowledged importance in one view or another. On one hand it is alleged to be a measure essential to the honour, interest, and perhaps the existence of the union ; on the other, it is said to be on principles subversive of the constitution and dangerous to the liberty of the subject. It is, therefore, a matter of delicacy and moment, and the earnest call of the union to have it considered cannot fall within the notion of so common, so ordinary an occasion, as would prohibit the executive from summoning a meeting of the legislature. The only argument urged to denominate it such, is that it had been recently decided on by the legislature. But there is an evident fallacy in this position; the call was addressed to a new and different body, totally different in the contemplation of the constitution, and materially different in fact with respect to the members who compose it. A large proportion of the members of the present house were not members of the last. For aught that either congress or the governor could officially know, there might have been a total change in the individuals, and, therefore, a total difference in the sentiments. No inference, of course, could be fairly drawn from the conduct of the last legislature to that of the present. Indeed, however it might be wished to prepossess the minds of the members of the former house with a contrary idea, it is plain that there is no necessary connection between what they did at that time, and what it may be proper for them to do now. The act of the last session proves the conviction of the house then, that the grant of the impost was an eligible measure. Many of the members were led to suppose that it would answer the purpose, and might have been accepted by congress. If the experiment has shown that they were mistaken in their expectations, and if it should appear to them that congress could not for good reasons accept it, the same motives which induce them to the grant already made, would determine them to consent to such alterations as would accommodate it to the views of congress and the other states, and make it practicable to carry the system into execution.
“ It may be observed, that as congress accompanied their request with an explanation of the object, they by that mode of proceeding submitted the whole matter to the discretion of the governor, to act according to the estimate formed in his own mind of its importance. It is not denied the governor had a discretion upon the occasion
It is not contended, that he was under a constitutional necessity to convene the legislature. The resolution of congress itself does not imply or intimate this. They do not pretend to require, they only earnestly recommend. The governor might at his peril refuse ; responsible, however, for any ill consequences that might have attended his refusal. But what is contended for is, that the call of the United States, under all circumstances, was sufficient to satisfy the terms of the constitution empowering him to convene the legislature on extraordinary occasions, and left him at full liberty to comply.
“The admission of his discretion does not admit that it was properly exercised, nor does it admit that the footing upon which he placed his refusal was proper. It does not admit that the constitution interposed an obstacle in his way, or that the request of congress implied any thing hostile to the right of free deliberation.
“ This is the aspect under which the business presents itself to our consideration, as well from the correspondence between congress and the governor, as from the manner in which it is ushered to us in the speech. A general approbation of his conduct, is an approbation of the principle by which it is professed to have been actuated.
Are we ready to say that the constitution would have been violated by a compliance ? Are we ready to say that the call upon us to deliberate is an attempt to infringe the freedom of deliberation? If we are not ready to say both, we must reject the amendment. In particular, I think it must strike us all that there is something singularly forced in intimating, that an application of congress to the governor of the state to convene a new legislature to consider a very important national subject, has any thing in it dangerous to the freedom of our deliberations. I flatter myself we should all have felt ourselves as much at liberty to have pursued our sentiments, if we had met upon an extraordinary call, as we now do when met according to our own appointment.
“ There yet remains an important light in which the subject merits consideration; I mean as it respects the executive authority of the state itself. By deciding that the application of congress, upon which the debate turns, was not such an extraordinary occasion as left the gov. ernor at liberty to call the legislature, we may form a precedent of a very dangerous tendency; we may put a sense on the constitution very different from the true meaning of it, and may fetter the present or a future executive with very inconvenient restraints. A few more such precedents may tie up the hands of a governor in such a manner as would either oblige him to act at an extreme peril, or to omit acting when public exigencies required it. The mere sense of one governor would be no precedent for his successor ; but that sense approved by both houses of the legislature, would become a rule of conduct. Suppose a few more precedents of the kind on different combinations of circumstances equally strong, and let us ask ourselves what would be the situation of a governor whenever he came to deliberate on the propriety of exercising the discretion in this respect vested in him by the constitution? Would he not be apt to act with a degree of caution, or rather timidity, which in certain emergencies might be productive of very pernicious consequences ? A mere intimation of the constitution to him not to call the legislature in their recess upon every trifling affair, which is its true import, would be turned into an injunction not to do so but upon occasions of the last necessity.
“We see, therefore, that the question upon which we are pressed to decide, is not less delicate, as it respects the constitution of the state itself, than as it respects the union; and that in every possible view it is most prudent to avoid the determination. Let the conduct of the governor stand on its own merits. If he was right, our approbation will not make him more right. If he was wrong, it would be improper to give sanction to his error.
“ Several things have been said in the debate which have no connection with it; but to prevent their making improper impressions, it may not be amiss to take some notice of them. The danger of a power in congress to compel the convening of the legislature at their pleasure has been strongly insisted upon. It has been urged, if they possessed it they might make it an engine to fatigue the legislature into a compliance with their measures. Instances of an abuse of the like power in the crown, under the former government, have been cited.
" It is a sufficient answer to all this to say, that no such power is contended for. I do not assert that their request obliged the governor to convene the legislature; I only maintain that their request on an important national subject, was such an occasion as left him at liberty to do it without any colour for imputing to him a breach of the constitution ; and that from motives of respect to the union, and to avoid any further degradation of its authority, already at too low an ebb, he ought to have complied.
“ Admitting in the fullest extent that it would be dangerous to allow to congress the power of requiring the legislature to be convened at pleasure, yet no injury or inconvenience can result from supposing the call of the United States, on a matter by them deemed of importance, to be an occasion sufficiently extraordinary to authorize, not to oblige the governor to comply with it.
“I cannot forbear remarking, that it is a common artifice to insinuate a resemblance between the king under the former government and congress ; though no two things can be more unlike each other. Nothing can be more dissimilar than a monarch, permanent, hereditary, the source of honour and emolument, and a republican body com