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But, although congress have the power of declaring, and, as we have seen, of making war, that of making peace is not confided to them. The president is the organ of the nation with foreign governments; to him belongs the power of negotiating all treaties, whether of peace, alliance, commerce, neutrality, or of whatever other description. Therefore, the putting an end to a war depends, in the first instance, on his discretion; but no treaty can be valid, unless it receives the concurrent approbation of the senate, by a majority of two-thirds of the members present; and if an appropriation of money, or some act of legislation is necessary to give it effect, then congress must pass a law for such
purposes; in every other respect, treaties signed by the president and ratified by the senate, are, after being made known by a proclamation of the president, to be executed as the supreme law of the land. A cession of territory, however, would seem to require the consent of the state in which it is situated.
The president of the United States, as the chief executive magistrate of the Union, is, by virtue of his office, commander-in-chief of the army and navy, and also of the militia, when called into the national service: he, with the advice and consent of the senate, sends, and, without such consent, receives ambassadors, ministers of inferior grade, consuls and consular agents, and generally represents, in the view of foreign powers, the majesty of the nation. With him alone, or with his
secretary of state, foreign sovereigns and their ministers are allowed to communicate in their public capacities, nor can they appeal from his decisions to any other authority in the land; but they may apply to the judiciary in matters in which that branch of government is competent to decide, complying with the forms which the law requires.
The congress are authorized to borrow money on the credit of the United States; to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, without any limitation but that they are to be equal throughout the United States, and that no duties are to be laid upon articles exported from any state. All direct taxes are to be in proportion to the population, as in the election of representatives. The objects, for which those powers of taxation are given, are declared to be “to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States, which includes every subject of general interest. It is now a settled doctrine that the money thus raised may be applied by congress to the making of roads, canals and other public improvements, provided they be of a national, not of a local character, and this doctrine has been acted upon in numerous instances. The protection of agriculture, commerce and manufactures against the legislative enactments or fiscal regulations of foreign nations, seems to be a legiti
mate object for the exercise of the powers of taxation vested in congress. What would become of our nation, if the government established for the common defence, could not protect the interests of the citizens against foreign powers, by its legislation as well as by force of arms?
The supreme power over the treasury belongs to the legislature, and therefore no money can be drawn from it but in consequence of appropriations made by law. The congress have moreover the
to coin money and regulate the value thercof, and of foreign coin. All bills for raising revenue must originate in the house of representatives; but the senate may propose or concur with amendments, as in other bills.
Congress have the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the several states, and with the Indian tribes, and to fix the standard of weights and
This last power, however, they have not yet exercised. They are also empowered to make uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcy throughout the United States.
In execution of the power to regulate trade, and also of that to regulate the value of money, the congress have established a national bank, which has fully
answered the object in view. The right of the national legislature to create such an institution has often been, and is still questioned by men whose opinions are entitled to respect; but experience has shown that the value of money cannot be effectually regulated by any other means, through so extensive a country as ours, while each state retains the power of granting to individuals and monied associations the privilege of issuing bills of credit, the value of which fluctuates and will fluctuate still more, unless there is some superior power in or under the authority of the national government to check their improvident issues.
On the 4th of April, 1800, an act was passed by congress for establishing a uniform system of bankruptcy throughout the United States. That act was limited to five years, but was not permitted to run through its course; it was repealed on the 19th of December, 1803, wanting little more than one year to expire by its own limitation. Since that time various efforts have been made to revive it, or to obtain an act on similar principles, but all without success; the measure has hitherto appeared to be unpopular with the majority of the people of the United States. The laws of the same description made by the legislatures of the individual states, have been adjudged by the supreme court of the United States to be unconstitutional, (except under restrictions and limitations that would make them beneficially im. practicable,) principally on the ground that they impair
the obligation of contracts, which, as will be seen hereafter, is prohibited to the states.
The want of laws adequate to the relief of bank. rupts and their creditors is severely felt throughout the United States, and there is but little hope of a uniform system being adopted. As congress are not required by the constitution to make a complete system, but merely uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcy, it might be sufficient, perhaps, if they were to enact some general rules and principles, leaving the details to the wisdom of the state legislatures, to be suited by them to their peculiar circumstances.
Section 4.-General and Penal Legislation.
The congress, besides the special powers to them granted, are authorized to make all laws that may be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers vested in them or in the government of the United States or in any department or office thereof.
This includes penal legislation for the purpose of enforcing obedience to their statutes. Independent of this general power, the constitution gives them a special authority in particular cases, as 1. To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States; 2. To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and