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may lay off a range of States on the western bank from the head to the mouth, and so, range after range, advancing compactly as we multiply.
“This treaty must of course be laid before both houses, because both have important functions to exercise respecting it. They, I presume, will see their duty to their country in ratifying and paying for it, so as to secure a good which would otherwise probably be never again in their power. But I suppose they must then appeal to the nation for an additional article to the Constitution, approving and confirming an act which the nation had not previously authorized. The Constitution has made no provision for our holding foreign territory, still less for incorporating foreign nations into our Union. The Executive, in seizing the fugitive occurrence which so much advances the good of their country, have done an act beyond the Constitution. The Legislature, in casting behind them metaphysical subtleties, and risking themselves like faithful servants, must ratify and pay for it, and throw themselves on their country for doing for them unauthorized what we know they would have done for themselves had they been in a situation to do it. It is the case of a guardian, investing the money of his ward in purchasing an important adjacent territory; and saying to him when of age, I did this for your good; I pretend to no right to bind you: you may disavow me, and I must get out of the scrape as I can : I thought it my duty to risk myself for you. But we shall not be disavowed by the nation, and their act of indemnity will confirm and not weaken the Constitution, by more strongly marking out its lines.
“We have nothing later from Europe than the public papers give. I hope yourself and all the western members will make a sacred point of being at the first day of the meeting of Congress; for vestra res regitur.
“Accept my affectionate salutations and assurances of esteem and respect.”
In a letter to the Attorney-General (August 30th), the President made him the bearer of his refusal to citizens of Boston to communicate his birth-day, which they had desired to ascertain for the purpose of observing it as an anniversary. He said:
“With respect to the day on which they wish to fix their anniversary, they may be told, that disapproving myself of transferring the honors and veneration for the great birthday of our Republic to any individual, or of dividing them with individuals, I have declined letting my own birthday be known, and have engaged my family not to communicate it. This has been the uniform answer to every application of the kind.”
Accordingly, his birthday was never publicly known until after his death.
In the same letter, he drew up something like the form of an amendment, which he wished to see made to the Constitution, to sanction retrospectively the acquisition of Louisiana on the terms of the treaty, and to cover the future annexation of Florida. But he expressed his entire views on the subject much more fully in a letter to Senator Nicholas of Virginia, as well as new reasons for the speedy action of both Houses of Congress —the one for ratifying the treaty, the other in carrying it into effect:
To Wilson C. Nicholas.
- Monticello, September 7, 1803. DEAR SIR : +
Your favor of the 3d was delivered me at court; but we were much disappointed in not seeing you, Mr. Madison and the Governor' being here at the time. I inclose you a letter of Monroe on the subject of the late treaty. You will observe a hint in it, to do without delay what we are bound to do. There is reason, in the opinion of our ministers, to believe, that if the thing were to do over again, it could not be obtained, and that if we give the least opening, they will declare the treaty void. A warning amounting to that has been given to them, and an unusual kind of letter written by their minister to our Secretary of State direct. Whatever Congress shall think it necessary to do, should be done with as little debate as possible, and particularly so far as respects the constitutional difficulty. I am aware of the force of the observations you make on the power given by the Constitution to Congress to admit new States into the Union, without restraining the subject to the territory then constituting the United States. But when I consider that the limits of the United States are precisely fixed by the treaty of 1783, that the Constitution expressly declares itself to be made for the United States, I cannot help believing the intention was not to permit Congress to admit into the Union new States, which should be formed out of the territory for which, and under whose authority alone, they were then acting. I do not believe it was meant that they might receive England, Ireland, Holland, etc., into it, which would be the case on your construction. When an instrument admits two constructions, the one safe, the other dangerous, the one precise, the other indefinite, I prefer that which is safe and precise. I had rather ask an enlargement of power from the nation, where it is found necessary, than to assume it by a construction which would make our powers boundless. Our peculiar security is in the possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction. * I say the same as to the opinion of those who consider the grant of the treatymaking power as boundless. If it is, then we have no Constitution. If it has bounds, they can be no others than the definitions of the powers which that instrument gives. It specifies and delineates the operations permitted to the federal Government, and gives all the powers necessary to carry these into execution. Whatever of these enumerated objects is proper for a law, Congress may make the law; whatever is proper to be executed by way of a treaty, the President and Senate may enter into the treaty; whatever is to be done by a judicial sentence, the judges may pass the sentence. Nothing is more likely than that their enumeration of powers is defective. This is the ordinary case of all human works. Let us go on then perfecting it, by adding, by way of amendment to the Constitution, those powers which time and trial show are still wanting. But it has been taken too much for granted, that by this rigorous construction the treaty power would be reduced to nothing. I had occasion once to examine its effect on the French treaty, made by the old Congress, and found that out of thirty odd articles which that contained, there were one, two, or three only which could not now be stipulated under our.
• John Page, Mr. Jefferson's schoolboy friend, was now Governor of Virginia.
present Constitution. I confess, then, I think it important, in the present case, to set an example against broad construction, by appealing for new power to the people. If, however, our friends shall think differently, certainly I shall acquiesce with satisfaction; confiding, that the good sense of our country will correct the evil of construction when it shall produce ill effects.
Congress had been called by an executive proclamation to meet on the 17th of October, for the purpose of acting in time on the treaty, and a quorum was present at the appointed day. Various new members appeared in the Senate. From Vermont, Israel Smith, in the place of Chipman ; from Massachusetts (elected by an arrangement between the two Federal wings), Timothy Pickering in the place of D. Foster, and John Quincy Adams in the place of J. Mason; from Rhode Island, Samuel I. Potter in the place of T. Foster; from New York,' Theodorus Baily in the place of Governeur Morris; from Pennsylvania, Samuel Maclay in the place of Ross; from New Jersey, John Condit in the place of Ogden; from Virginia, John Taylor in the place of S. T. Mason, deceased ; from Maryland, Samuel Smith in the place of Howard; from South Carolina, Pierce Butler in the place of Calhoun, deceased; and from the new State of Ohio, John Smith and Thomas Worthington. The gains were all Republican ; and of the thirty-four members but nine were Federalists. In the House of Representatives the Republicans consisted of over one hundred members, while the Federalists had less than forty. Several of the prominent leaders of the latter had been beaten in the canvass. Bayard had been defeated in his district by Caesar A. Rodney, son of that IRodney who signed the Declaration of Independence. Both Adams and Pickering, the new Massachusetts senators, had, before their election to the Senate, run for Congress and been defeated, the first by Dr. Eustis, and the second by Crowninshield. The Republicans had lost two conspicuous members in the House–Giles by illness, and General Samuel Smith by his election to the Senate. Among the prominent old Republican members were Macon and Alston of North Carolina, John Randolph and Clopton from Virginia, Eustis and Varnum from Massachusetts, Mitchell and Van Cortlandt from New York,
* De Witt Clinton resigned, and General John Armstrong (who had preceded Clin ton) was appointed by the Governor to fill the vacancy, November 10, 1803.
Leib, Gregg, Smilie and Findley from Pennsylvania, and Nichol. son from Maryland. Among the prominent new Republican members were Rodney of Delaware, Crowninshield of Massachusetts, Root of New York, Clay of Pennsylvania, Jones, T. M. Randolph and Eppes' of Virginia, and Campbell of Tennessee. Connecticut had returned its former Federal delegation, Griswold, Goddard, Dana, Smith and Davenport; and these, with Huger of South Carolina, and Thatcher of Massachusetts, old members, and Gaylord Griswold of New York, a new member, were the leading representatives on that side. Mr. Macon was reëlected speaker. The President's Message, after stating the acquisition of Louisiana, recommended, after the treaty should receive the constitutional sanction of the Senate, that measures be taken for the immediate occupation and temporary government of the territory, for “rendering the change of government a blessing to our newly adopted brethren "-" and for confirming to the Indian inhabitants their occupancy and self-government, establishing friendly and commercial relations with them.” The constitutional difficulty was not mentioned. “Another important acquisition of territory" was communicated. This was the purchase from the Kaskaskia Indians, of a broad belt of territory, extending from the mouth of the Illinois river, “to and up the Ohio’—comprising that part of the present State of Illinois lying south of the mouth of the Illinois river, and perhaps some part of Indiana. The Kaskaskia tribe had no difficulties with the United States, but the wars and casualties of savage life had reduced them to a few persons, wholly unable to defend themselves from the adjacent tribes. The United States left them lands sufficient for their maintenance, and, in exchange for the remainder, stipulated to protect them, and to pay them an annuity in money, agricultural implements, and such other articles as they might desire. Though the President did not regard this territory “so necessary as a barrier since the acquisition of the other bank,” still he thought it should be laid open to immediate settlement, that “its inhabitants might descend with rapidity in support of the lower country, should future circumstances expose that to foreign enterprise.”
* The two last, sons-in-law of the President.
He stated that the smaller vessels, authorized by Congress, had been dispatched to the Mediterranean.
An account of the receipts and expenditures of the year ending 30th of September preceding, he said showed that between eleven and twelve millions had been paid into the treasury. The amount of debt paid for the same year, was about three million one hundred thousand dollars, exclusive of interest, making, with the payment of the preceding year, a discharge of more than eight millions and a half of dollars of the principal of that debt, besides the interest which had accrued. And there was left in the treasury a balance of nearly six millions of dollars.
He contemplated the extinguishment of all preceding debts, before the stocks issued for the purchase of Louisiana would become redeemable; and he “could not but hope” that Congress would find means to meet the accruing interest on those stocks in the “progression of our revenue,” without recurring to new taxes.
He stated that the sums appropriated for gun-boats on the Mississippi, and for other belligerent objects, had not been made use of.
The following are passages from the Message:
“We have seen with sincere concern the flames of war lighted up again in Europe, and nations with whom we have the most friendly and useful relations engaged in mutual destruction. While we regret the miseries in which we see others involved, let us bow with gratitude to that kind Providence which, inspiring with wisdom and moderation our late legislative councils while placed under the urgency of the greatest wrongs, guarded us from hastily entering into the sanguinary contest, and left us only to look on and to pity its ravages. These will be heaviest on those immediately engaged. Yet the nations pursuing peace will not be exempt from all evil. In the course of this conflict, let it be our endeavor, as it is our interest and desire, to cultivate the friendship of the belligerent nations by every act of justice and of incessant kindness; to receive their armed vessels with hospitality from the distresses of the sea, but to administer the means of annoyance to none; to establish in our harbors such a police as may maintain law and order; to restrain our citizens from embarking individually in a war in which their country takes no part; to punish severely those persons, citizen or alien, who shall usurp the cover of our flag for vessels not entitled to it, infecting thereby with suspicion those of real Americans, and committing us into controversies for the redress of wrongs not our own ; to exact from every nation the observance toward our vessels and citizens, of those principles and practices which all civilized people acknowledge; to merit the character of a just nation, and maintain that of an in
dependent one, preferring every consequence to insult and habitual wrong. * + * * x- - * * *