« ZurückWeiter »
Feb. 26, 1836.]
ing unexpended. This state of things was occasioned by Sir, (said Mr. H.,) this road is the favorite measure of the late period of the session at which the appropriation the States northwest of the river Obio. If no approof that year was made, and by the late commencement priations are to be made to this road, and no distribution of the work in the summer of 1834. This unexpended of the surplus revenue among the States, the interests balance in Indiana was upwards of eighty thousand dol- l of these States in the present session will be small and Jars, which, with the one hundred thousand dollars trifling indeed. The beneficent band of the federal granted last year, was expended before the working Government will not there be felt. Yes, sir, the great season had ended, and the stone which had been pre. West, the new States, that have borne the burden and pared for the bed of the road, and which would have heat of the day, that have paid you millions into the preserved it from injury wherever applied, could not treasury-fourteen millions last year, and will probably be spread over it for want of funds. Should the motion pay twenty or thirty millions during the present year, prevail, it will be ominous to the speedy completion of from the public lands—will be entirely overlooked. I the road. The largeness of the appropriation.-Mr. | make these statements (said Mr. H.) on good and President, if the Senate will permit me, (said Mr. H.,)I] sufficient data. The sales in Indiana during the month will turn to the appropriation of 1819 for this road east of January last amounted to $300,000, or thereabouts; of Wheeling. Then, on a road of 130 miles in extent, I and in the State of Indiana alone, it is a reasonable cal. and much of it finished, $535,000 was appropriated, at culation that you will receive more than $3,000,000 the a time, too, when we had a war debt upon us of about 1 present year. And are all these millions to be withdrawn one hundred and fifty millions, and a large sum of this from the interior, and expended on the seaboard? I too bearing an interest of seven per cent. Now, the line of am for the military and naval defences of the country, this road under actual construction exceeds 350 miles. but I shall give no vote here that will lose sight of my We have a surplus of about thirty millions in the treas. | own section of the Union. ury, and yet it is proposed to diminish the appropriation This road, Mr. President, was intended, originally, to contained in this bill. He hoped it would not be done, | subserve the interests of the treasury of the United and that the Senator from Kentucky would yet withdraw States, as well as those of the West. And has it disap. his opposition, and lend us, as heretofore, his efficient pointed the expectations of its friends in either respect? helping hand.
Compare the amounts expended on it with the millions Mr. H..said that he placed this bill, distinctly and em. it has aided in bringing into the treasury, and it will be phatically, on the ground of solemn compact with the
compact with the extremely difficult to strike the balance against the road. federal Government, and on the ground of the Cumber
It would be wrong, Mr. President, to ascribe the pros. land road having been recognised as a settled public perity of the Northwestern States to any single cause, work, begun and to be finished by this Government.
but it would be equally erroneous to deny that this road He said that this road was based on compacts of the Gov- had largely contributed to that prosperity The truth ernment with all the new States northwest of the Ohio is, that every dollar heretofore appropriated to the im. and west of the Mississippi rivers. These compacts had provement of the country northwest of the Ohio river has their origin in the policy of settling the Western coun: returned into your treasury amounts more than double. try, and of uniting that country in interest and affection The grant of land to the Wabash and Erie canal looks with the Eastern States. They were based on the con | large on paper, and so it is in reality; and often do we sideration that the new States with whom they were hear of it on this floor. In every proposition for grants made should for ever abandon their right of taxing in the to the new States, this road, and that grant, with the hands of purchasers the lands sold by Congress, for five grant to Illinois, and some others, are continually years next ensuing the date of sale; a right clear and í brought in review before us. And bas not the Wabash indisputable, and acknowledged by Congress, in asking and Erie canal grant been the means of selling millions for the coinpact by which it should be abandoned. / of acres, which, but for that grant, would to this day These compacts set apart a portion of the moneys re have remained unsold? And has it not sold lands in its ceived from the sales of the public lands, to be expend. vicinity for ten dollars an acre, which would otherwise ed, under the direction of Congress, in making roads have remained unsold to this day, or, if sold at all, would leading to the new States; and this road was cominenced have sold at $1 25 per acre? Sir, (said Mr. H.,) I well in 1806, during the administration of Mr. Jefferson, in remember telling the Senate, when that proposition was fulfilment of the then existing compact with Olio. Ap- before this body in 1827, that every acre granted to the propriations, from year to year, have been made to this State for the construction of the Wabash and Erie canal object ever since. They have been sanctioned by every would be an acre well sold, and would swell the amounts administration, and it has long been considered a settled thereafter received in the treasury. I was then thought work of the country, for which estimates are continually 1 to be sanguine and visionary. The bill struggled along, made, as for other public works. The present bill is as this bill is now struggling along. It got through, as I based on one of these estimates, and he supposed that hope this bill will get through. My most sanguine exno member of the Senate, not even those wliose constitu. | pectations have been doubly realized, and I verily be. tional scruples prevented them from voting for it, wish lieve that every acre contained in that grant has brought ed the work now to be wholly abandoned.
into the treasury five times as much as it would otherThe road has been finished (said Mr. H.) as far as wise have sold for. Without that grant the canal would Hebron, in the State of Ohio, and given up to the States have been ten or fifteen years later in being commenced through wbich it passes, for the purposes of preservation and completed. The Upper Wabash lands would bave and repair, and much work is done on it beyond that point. sold at the minimum price, and millions of acres now in It has been retarded in the western part of Ohio by con- | the hands of purchasers would still have belonged to the tinued efforts to change the route by Dayton, but the Government. road is graded and bridged through the greater portion A proposition is now before the Committee on Comof Indiana, and is in a condition to be very much injured merce to appropriate $25,000 for a harbor at Michigan by neglect and delay in its completion. The continual | City. You have about one hundred townships of new and almost unparalleled travel on this graded road, sub lands in that section of the State not yet brought into jects it to much injury, and makes continual repairs ne-' market. Now, it is a calculation perfectly safe, that the cessary. To some extent stone is prepared for covering | making of this appropriation of $25,000 for a harbor at the bed of the road, which, for want of funds, has not | Michigan City, the only place, as is believed, where a yet been put upon it.
harbor can be made within the State of Indiana, will
Resignation of Mr. Tyler-Slavery in the District of Columbia.
(Feb. 29, 1836.
make a difference of $100,000 at the land sales in that favor of this appropriation is, that you increase the vicinity within the present year.
| value of the public lands: why, sir, the Senator from The bill before the Senate is based on estimates of Indiana, when bis State pride is roused, tells us that the the department; and if it be intended to complete this population is dense along the road-lhe lands, there. road, as it no doubt will be completed, then it is unfore, are sold. Kentucky has never been endowed in questionably good economy to appropriate the largest this way by Government. She has not sprung up under sum; for all the contingencies of the disbursements will ils patronage; nor ought she to be called on to vote an be the same for the lesser sum as for the larger sum, / appropriation in which she is not to participate. Gen. and the road, if rapidly completed, will cost much less tlemen go too far when they ask us to do so. We canin repairs. As soon as completed it will pass into the not get a dollar for our own State, and yet we are conhands of the States, as other portions of it farther east tinually solicited to do something for others. The idea have done, and it will be a most valuable public work, of any compact is entirely futile. The grant of this of lasting duration, without further expense to the Gov fund was a gift of the Government-a mere bounty. If ernment.
gentlemen would view it in this light, he would do Mr. BUCHANAN said it had been his fate to travel much more for them than at present he was inclined on this same Cumberland road very often. He should to do. be very glad to obtain the vote of the Senator from Mr. DAVIS said that if the proposition to postpone Kentucky, but he thought the chance of it somewhat were put, he should vote for it, not from any feeling of slender. As to completing the work upon the idea or hostility to the bill, but because the chairman of the principle of a compact, that was perfectly illusory. committee had not laid on the table the proper estiThe two per cent. fund was long ago exhausted, and mates. It had been said that this information was laid the balance in favor of the Government was at least before the Senate last year. He was not in the Senate five millions. Why, then, (said Mr. B.,) do I vote for at that time, and he had not had an opportunity of seethis appropriation? Simply because the policy of con ing these estimates; and he thought it could not be structing this road was long since established. Govern. viewed as an unreasonable request if he asked for some ment must, at any rate, be at the expense, and the only 1 little time to examine them. A good deal had been said question to be considered was one of time. Let it be on the subject, which was an interesting one to all; but finished and done with; and leave it not to be said here. he certainly must desire a further opportunity of obtainafter that the work cost more because of our delay, ing information on the subject, and for that reason he This is the reason which will govern my vote; as to any would now move an adjournment. compact, bargain, or obligation, I assent to no such / The motion was agreed to, doctrine..
And the Senate adjourned to Monday. I voted originally for the Lexington and Maysville road. I afterwards, whatever I might have thought at the time, approved the consequences of the veto; be.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 29. cause I believe, of all bodies, we are the most inefficient
RESIGNATION OF MR. TYLER. to undertake works of internal improvement. The.re. The following letter was received, and laid before sult would be different, indeed, if the work were na- the Senate, by the Chair: tional; but there is very great difficulty in determining wbat is and what is not a national work. Congress
Wasuington, February 29, 1836. should not undertake to distribute the public money; Sir: I beg leave through you to inform the Senate for, in so doing, they only squander it. As to Ken- that I have, on this day, resigned into the hands of the tucky, if she has not participated in these public bene. General Assembly of Virginia, for reasons fully made fits, she is, at least, no worse off than Pennsylvania. known to it, my seat in the Senate of the United States,
A great many years ago, sir, more than I mean to as a Senator from that State. This annunciation is now tell, I travelled in Kentucky, and I returned with a made, so as to enable the Senate, at its earliest pleasure, most vivid impression of the hospitable kindness of her to fill such vacancies in the several committees as may be people, and of the miserable situation of her roads. I created by my resignation. wished then, sir, that she might have had the benefit of In taking leave of the body over which you preside, a set of excellent and able men, by whose labors Penn- I should be faithless to the feelings of my beart if I did sylvania has profited so much; but who, I am sorry not frankly confess that I do so with no ordinary emoto add, have been all swept away by the besom of re- tions. I look to the body itself as the representative form.
of those federative principles of our system, to preserve Mr. NILES said a few words in favor of the bill, which unimpaired has been the unceasing object of my which, from the position of the reporter, could not be | public life. I separate from many with whom I have distinctly heard.
been associated for years, and part with friends whose Mr. BENTON demanded the yeas and nays in every recollection I shall cherish to the close of my life. stage of the question; and they were ordered.
These are sacrifices which it gives me pain to make. Mr. CRITTENDEN said that, when he had the hon. Be pleased to assure the Senate that I carry with me, or, sixteen or seventeen years ago, to hold a seat in | into retirement, sentiments of respect towards its memnthis body, this three or two per cent. fund was thrown bers; and that, in bidding them adieu, I extend to each into the market. Gentlemen then said, give it to us and all my best wishes for their health, happiness, and now: it will prove a very prolific sum. My humble aid | long life. was given; and I now see it as prolific and teeming as I have the honor to be, sir, your most obedient serever, in the opinion of some of the honorable gentle. vant,
JOHN TYLER. men. They are not satisfied, and they never will be: Hon. Mr. Van Burex. this very fund will be just as valid in their eyes when one hundred millions are expended as now. Gentlemen
ABOLITION OF SLAVERY. are utterly unjust in charging any breach of faith upon The Senate proceeded to consider the petition of the the Government. The very words of their bargain will Friends assembled at Philadelphia, praying for the aboshow them to be so. I have observed, too, sir, that lition of slavery in the District of Columbia. they avoid general principles, as grounds upon which Mr. BLACK, who was entitled to the floor, being un. they cannot proceed. One argument used by those in I prepared to speak on the subject to-day, it was sug.
FEB. 29, 1836.)
Slavery in the District of Columbia.
gested by Mr. WEBSTER that the subject should lie | Mr. President, these petitioners are not only attached over until to-morrow; but the sense of the Senate being to the Union, but to the principles of our constitution. in favor of proceeding with the discussion,
And well they may be, for their own system of disciMr. WALL rose and said: Mr. President, I had pline, which dates back long anterior to that constitution, hoped that the community of object so strongly and de not only contains the same general principles of civil cidedly professed by all who have mingled in this de. and religious liberty, but in the most remarkable degree bate would have resulted in some measure acceptable to shadows forth the same system of government, afterall, to disarm this question of its excitability, and to re wards so admirably developed and expanded in the State lieve the business of the public from its paralyzing ef and federal relations of that instrument. fects. I had hoped that some measure, conceived in And what is it that these petitioners have done, which that noble and fearless spirit of patriotism which in should bring down upon them the fiery indignation of another place, that I am not permitted to mention, the honorable gentleman from South Carolina, and exhas added new honors to a name so illustrious for all clude them from the right of being heard in this ball? that can adorn the chivalry of the soldier and the patri They have prayed Congress to exercise what they conotism of the citizen-a name connected with the most ceive to be their constitutional right over the territory trying and the most glorious periods of our common his. of the District of Columbia, in respect to the abolition tory, and of the State which gave him birth-would of slavery and the selling of slaves in that District. Adhave conducted the dangerous electricity, with which mit that they are mistaken; admit that Congress have the dark and threatening cloud of abolition incendiarism no constitutional right over slavery in this District, or is supposed to be charged, harmless to the earth.
the exercise of the right of slavery in this District; ad. I have been disappointed. The honorable Senator mit that they understand the constitution differently who made the motion to reject the petition presented by from the honorable Senator from South Carolina, or the honorable Senator from Pennsylvania has avowed even from this Senate; yet I believe it is not a crime in that he feels it his duty not only to persist in that mo any but one man to construe the constitution as he un. tion, but should feel it to be his high and imperious duty derstands it. If they are mistaken in their views, it be. to demand the question of admission on the reception of longs to us to determine, and our rights and our duties every other petition of a similar character; and I feel begin where those of the petitioners ends. Speak to that my duty will not permit me longer to remain silent. them in the language of courtesy and of reason, and they
Sir, the question raised by that motion is a constitu- will submit, although they might think themselves bound tional question of deep and abiding interest, which comes in conscience to bear testimony against the evils of slahome to the sensibilities of the whole American people, very, as they do against the evils of war, and many other and, like all constitutional questions, ought to be ap- things which the laws of society recognise. Speak to proached free from all adventitious excitement.
them as citizens of a common country; satisfy them that Let me premise, Mr. President, that the petition which it is inexpedient to grant their petition; that it would you are now called upon to reject does not come from endanger the integrity of the Union, the peace, the the great laboratory of abolition incendiarism. It does lives, and the liberties of our fellow-citizens; that it not spring from the heated atmosphere produced by the would scatter rapine, murder, and desolation, over the contention of men struggling for political power; nor fairest portion of the Union, and they would forbear. does it come from men who, under pretence of con. They are for peace and happiness, not blood and rapine. science, cloak worldly, selfish, or unholy designs. But, | They would leave it to the providence of God in his own sir, it comes from a source which, on this floor, and good time to work out the remedy for evils which would . every where else where the doctrines of the civil and re- be aggravated by the rash and inconsiderate and officious ligious liberties of man are maintained, cherished, and movements of human actions. Tell them, sir, that one supported, is entitled to be heard with respect. It of the pillars of the most glorious temple of liberty which comes from the Caln Quarterly Meeting of the Society | human wisdom has ever erected is based upon slavery; of Friends.
that you cannot remove that foundation without destroyAlthough not my immediate constituents, I have the ing the whole edifice, and they will be satisfied. Their pleasure of knowing some of the very respectable citis humanity is not of that reckless character that it will zens who compose that quarter; and I feel bound, from wade to its object through rivers of blood, and amid the that knowledge, to say that they are neither fanatics in fallen fragments of an empire. religion nor politics; and that they seek not to destroy Mr. President, I must be allowed to say that I was the constitution, or endanger the peace and permanency surprised when I heard the honorable Senator from of the Union. They are what they profess, members of South Carolina make his motion to reject this petition. the religious Society of Friends. A society adopting! I had heard this body called the last refuge of liberty-the pure and simple doctrines of the gospel proclaim the defenders of the constitution--the champions of the ed by the angel herald of the advent of our Saviour', / liberties of the people against the attacks and assaults "peace on earth and good will to man,” have emphati. of power. Is it wise, then, if they are engaged in such cally taken as their rule of conduct the doctrines which a holy struggle against executive power, in defence of he taught-“Do unto others as you would they should the constitution, to separate themselves from the sympado unto you,” and “ love your neighbor as yourself." | thies of the people? Is the liberty for which we are These, as well as the other fundamental principles which contending the liberty of letting the people bear our characterize them, they maintain, not by contention voices? or force, but by bearing what they call their testimony Mr. President, there are other liberties belonging to against such acts as they, in their conscience, believe the people, which they at least value as dearly as the subversive of their golden rules of action.
liberty of hearing our voices. Among these, not the Theirs is no pbarisaical faith, which impiously invokes least is the liberty of making themselves heard within the judgment of Heaven upon the sins of others, while these walls--of making us hear their voices. There are vaunting their own superior goodness and virtue. They į but two modes of doing this: one is by petition, which address not the passions or the feelings of interest or comes to us in the mild and gentle voice of supplication; avarice, but the common sense, the wisdom, and justice the other by instruction, which grates upon our ears in of man. Their only weapons are the calm, mild, and the barsh and imperative accents of command. Sir, dispassionate voice of reason, and they conquer, if they whether obedience to the latter is to be expunged from conquer at all, by submission and endurance.
I the list of senatorial duties, may hereafter be determin
Slavery in the District of Columbia.
(Feb. 29, 1836.
ed; but if we reject the right of supplication, if wetion was held by the people in fee simple, without tenabridge the right of the people to petition, it is hazard- der of service to any superior lord, in absolute sovereigning nothing to predict that we shall spurn and scorn the ty. It was then, and is now, one of the great prerogatives commands of the people; the step from one to the other of the people-an attribute of the sovereignty of the peois not only easy but natural.
ple; and, like all prerogatives which spring from soveMr. President, I have examined this question with all reignty, unalienable and indestructible. Sir, it is a great the care and deliberation that I am capable of exerci- trust, held by the people themselves, for the preservasing, and I feel bound to declare my deliberate judgment tion and maintenance of the liberties of mankind. It that you cannot reject this petition without violating the could not be granted; and on the adoption of the consticonstitution which you are all sworn to support.
tution it was not granted, but remained among the vast I beg you, Mr. President, to look at the petition; it is mass of the reserved rights of the People. couched in respectful language to this body, and to every But, Mr. President, so important and essential to the body else. It does not assert the existence of slavery or preservation of liberty did the people consider the right the selling of slaves any where, or invoke the action of of petition, that they were not content to let it remain Congress any where, but in the District of Columbia; ard as a mere reserved right of the people. The statesmen that action is to be regulated by the constitution. I beg of those days were deeply imbued with the great printhe honorable Senator from South Carolina to review the ciples of popular liberty, and thoroughly acquainted petition, and to withdraw his charge that it traduces and with its history in all ages. Especially they were acvilifies the conduct of the institutions of the State which quainted with the principles of the English law. Extra he so ably represents. I ask where, how, and in what Parliamentum, nulla petitio est grata licet necessaria: in part, letter, or sentence of the petition, does he find the Parliamento, nulla petilio est ingrata, si necessaria, is the evidence to support this charge!
old-fashioned wbig maxim of Lord Coke. They knew Sir, it is not the habit of the society to which these that in the third year of the reign of the first Charles, petitioners belong thus to act. They speak of the evils when the arbitrary conduct of the Tudor and Stuart dyof slavery, and of the selling of slaves, in the abstract nasties had made it necessary for the people to recur to and impersonally. I trust, sir, that we have not yet first principles, as if to render the right of petition and reached the excited susceptibility of the followers of the the primary rights of man one and indivisible, and to Montagues, and the Capulets, when the simple inter consecrate ihem as the great monuments of civil liberty, rogatory, “Do you bite your thumb at us?” could pro- the petition which recited the principles of Magna Charta, voke riot, blood, murder, and suicide.
with the acknowledgment of the King of their truth, Mr. President, you have no right, no constitutional was solemnly enrolled among the rolls of Parliament; right, to reject a petition, but for disrespectful language; and afterwards, in the thirteenth year of the same reign, and even the language must be understood in its mildest | was enacted into a statute. sense. The disrespectful language must be so gross as They knew that, notwithstanding that solemn confirmto show that it is not the exercise of the right of petition. ation, in the 22d year of Charles Ji, the right of petition In that case, sir, the power of rejection flows not from was abridged, by excluding matters of state and religion the constitution, but the inherent primary right which from the subject matter of petition, unless sanctioned by belongs to all representative, deliberative bodies tv pro the magistracy, and even then, if it was signed by more tect themselves from insult and contempt. If, sir, the than twenty persons, or presented by more than ten. language of this petition is disrespectful, it must be be. They knew that, by the glorious revolution 1688—-gloricause it speaks of slavery and the slave trade, in the ous because it was the first where the right of the sovabstract, as evils. So decide, and this Senate will cut ereignty of the people to confer power was made the out for itself new matter for the expunging process. It foundation of Government-the right of petition was rewill not be their own acts, over which they have a con- stored to its pristine freedom by the bill of rights. trol, but it will be the acts and labors of the wise and! They knew that, notwithstanding all this, Lord Mansthe good of all ages--of the patriots and statesmen of field had then recently, on the celebrated trial of Lord our whole country. You must begin with the declara. George Gordon, by judicial legislation, done what no tion of independence-the labors of the sages of the Parliament of Great Britain would have dared to have Revolution--the works of Mr. Jefferson--the library | done--abrogated the clause of the bill of rights which which you bought of him--and the whole library of Con- / repealed the statute of 32 Charles II, and re-enactgress--and finish with the proceedings of Congress itself. ed that statute abridging the right of petition. They
Mr. President, the right of petition is not derived from knew, sir, that, in the English law, the right of peacethe constitution. . It existed anterior to it. It is a pri- | ably assembling, and the right of petitioning for the mary, inherent, absolute, and essential right, which be redress of grievances, were held only subordinate to longs to representalive government. Its origin, its prog: the primary rights of life, liberty, and property, but ress, and its history, is the history of the struggles, the the necessary and indispensable auxiliaries to them. overthrow, and the triumphs of the people. It is the po. Hence, sir, the first amendment to the constitution litical barometer which marks the state of the atmo declares that “ Congress shall make no law respecting sphere of liberty in every age.
an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exSir, in the deduction of our title to that rich inherit. ercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of ance of Anglo-Saxon liberty, called the folk law, an in the press; or the right of the people peaceably to asheritance which our ancestors brought with them on the semble, and to petition the Government for a redress of first settlement of this country, we find that whenever grievances.” By this amendment the people did not the real bonafide issue of liberty against power was tried, grant to Congress any right to intermeddle with the right
ght of petition stands forth as one of the most im- of petition. They did not grant any of their reserved portant and essential muniments of liberty, from the first I rights; but they meant to make assurance doubly sure, trial at Runny Mead to the final decision by the revolu and take a bond of fate,” to take away from Congress tion of 1688, when the right of the people to self-gov. all power whatever over the right of petition. Mark ernment was finally established. Sir, on this side of the the language: “Congress shall make no law prohibiting Atlantic it has been consecrated by the blood of our rev. or abridging,"&c. It seems to have been drawn in exolutionary sires, and is written in the history of our press reference to the decision of Lord Mansfield in Lord struggle for freedom.
George Gordon's case, and to the statute 32 Charles II, When the constitution was formed, the right of peti- I whichi abridged the right of petition, and which was re
FEB. 29, 1836.)
Slavery in the District of Columbia.
· suscitated by that decision. It withdraws from Congress cestors. It is not the doctrine of liberty. It is not the
all right of interference with the right of petition in doctrine of our constitution. Sir, as respects the Union, any form or in any shape whatever; and if it be true, as is the Government is a unit. That great mass of human lib. stated by the honorable Senator from South Carolina, erty which reposes in safety under the protection of our in a recent report submitted to this House, that the cel. constitution is composed of the rights and liberties, the ebrated report of Mr. Madison to the Virginia Legisla prosperity and adversity, the weal and the wo, of each citture in 1799, conclusively settled that Congress has no izen and each section of our wide-extended empire. Sir, right, in any form or in any manner, to interfere with the sympathy between the members of the natural body the freedom of the press; and the violation of that prin is not more direct and immediate than that between all ciple, in the enactment of the sedition act, was the the members of this great republic. Touch the right, the leading cause of the civil revolution of 1801. If this be interest, or the liberties, of the humblest citizen of this so, sir, how can a distinction be drawn between the right great republic, no matter where his lot may be cast, of Congress to abridge the freedom of the press and the and the pulsation is felt in every part. Raise but the freedom of petition? They are alike protected by the cry of oppression in the remotest prairie of Missouri, or same clause of the constitution, and by the same lan- | the rudest dell of the Alleghanies, and the cry is echoed guage placed within congressional action. If this be and re-echoed, ay, sir, and felt too, in every street and so, sir, the people themselves have settled the construc. in every alley of every city and town, in every valley tion of this clause irreversibly.
and upon every hill top and mountain of the extended How, Mr. President, then, can we deny the right of limits of the Union. We are bonded together for competition without violating the constitution, without a mon weal and common wo. It is this which breathes gross usurpation of a power not only not granted to us, the Promethean fire of liberty into the cold and chiselled but withheld from us in clear, plain, and unequivocal forms of republican government. Sir, the grievance of language?
one is the grievance of all. So thought, so felt, so We cannot make any law, we cannot legislate at all, acted, the gallant sires of the constituents of the honoraas to the right of petition; we cannot, calling to our aid ble Senator, in the darkest and most fearful period of all the powers of the House of Representatives and the the Revolution, before compact had added new obligaExecutive also, the whole powers of legislation, abridge, tions to the sacred ties of a common ancestry, kindred, in any form or shape, the right of petition. Can we do | and institutions. The cry of oppression raised in it by rule? No, sir, surely not. We cannot do indi Faneuil Hall pealed over the whole South; and petition rectly what we cannot do directly. But, sir, the Sen. for redress of grievances, grievances which fell first ate have done no such thing. Their rules have been upon the cradle of liberty only, beseiged the English drawn by sound constitutional lawyers. Page forty- | Parliament from all quarters of the good old thireight, section twenty-four, rules of the Senate, de teen States. The true doctrine upon this subject is clares: “Before any petition or memorial, addressed to written in the history of the Revolution in characters of the Senate, shall be received and read at the table, blood; of the blood of our sires in the East and West, whether the same shall be introduced by the President, the North and the South. The right of petition for the or a member, a brief statement of the contents of the | redress of grievances is as broad and expansive as the petition or memorial shall verbally be made by the in right of the citizen, and circumscribed only by the limtroducer."
its of the Union. It can be abridged only by those The rules, then, simply regulate the mode of the in limits. The people must be, and are, the judges of troduction of a petition. They go no further; they | what is or is not a grievance. could not go further by the constitution, or without vio Another objection has been made to the reception of lating it. They make no question of the reception of this petition, that it prays what the Congress cannot petitions. The rejection of a petition for abuse or con- | constitutionally grant. Admit it. What then? Is that tempt is an anomaly, and must furnish its own rule. a cause for rejecting the petition? Does the gentleman
Sir, how is the rejection of this petition attempted to forget the principles which lie at the foundation of our be justified? It is by the lex parliamentaria, the law of institutions, of our Revolution: that government was inParliament. Now, it is clear that this rule respecting stituted by the people and for their benefit, and that they the reception of a petition, founded on the law of Parlia. may remodel it when they see proper? Does he forget ment, has never been adopted, and could not be adopt. the doctrines of the declaration of independence! ed, by the Senate. It is hostile to the principles of Does he forget the provision of the constitution which that constitution under which they hold their seats. It expressly provides for amendments! But, sir, has the is adopted for another meridian; a meridian where the question as to the constitutional power of Congress over right of petition has been abridged by act of Parliament, 1 slavery and the treatment of slaves in the District of by judicial decisions, usurping legislative powers; Columbia been settled? when? where? how? Is it not where it has been pared down to the size of parliamen a question at least so open that a difference of opinion tary discretion. Here, sir, it is too mighty, too large, may be entertained? And if so, sir, (and I do not mean for senatorial power, much less for senatorial discretion, myself now to express any opinion on the subject,) is it to grasp; and can it be seriously contended that it can a ground for rejecting a petition? It may be good be abridged by the parliamentary law of England, bor ground for rejecting the prayer of a petition, that it asks rowed or not borrowed, adopted or not adopted, what we have no power to grant. But we must receive naturalized or not naturalized? No, sir, no. The posi it, understand it, examine it, to judge. We must retion cannot be maintained. Such a doctrine assumes ceive it in order to enable us to discharge our duties. for its basis that the Senate may violate the constitution We must not forget that it is our duty to sustain the with impunity, under the shield of the rule of the British rights of the people; that in this hall the relation be. Parliament, wholly inconsistent with, and subversive of, tween us and the people is, on the side of the people, the principles of that constitution.
rights; and on our side, duties. But, sir, it has been said that the right of petition is Sir, where will this doctrine carry the honorable limited to grievances which personally affect the peti Senator? The Legislatures of some Staies have instruct. tioners. Sir, this doctrine sounds strangely to my ears. ed their Senators to vote in favor of what are called the It is not the doctrine of the Revolution; and it is there expunging resolutions. I believe, sir, that some peothat the people of the United States have learned their ple have imagined that the resolutions are unconstitulessons of that right. It is not the doctrine of our an. | tional. Are they to be rejected? Is a sovereign State
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