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(APRIL 26, 1830. these cases differed. The case of Mr. Blount being the inform the Senate of the reasons that induced him to refirst of the kind that had ever occurred, presented so move James Carson, Register of the Land Office at Palanomalous a practice that it never could be referred to as myra, in the State of Missouri, was called up. a precedent. The other two were consistent with the Mr. GRUNDY asked for the yeas and nays on its pasgeneral principles of law and justice. From these it sage. seems that it had been settled, that, when the House of Mr. McKINLEY thought, as so much had been said and Representatives informed the Senate that they were about published on the other side of the question, that the resoto present articles of impeachment, a Select Committee lution ought not to pass without a farther examination of was appointed to take the subject into consideration, and the ground it had assumed, and the reasoning by which report what measures were proper to be taken. He would that ground was attempted to be maintained. If no one read, for the information of the Senate, the cases as they else would say any thing on the subject, he would nooccurred.
tice it himself, As he understood the question presented [Mr. TAZEWELL then read from the Senate Journal in the resolution, it was one of power. It was contended as follows:)
that the President of the United States had no power to “In the Senate of the United States, March 3d, 1803. remove an officer without the consent of the Senate. 18
“A message was received from the House of Repre- such a proposition can be maintained, then it appeared to sentatives, by Messrs. Nicholson and Randolph, two of him that the Executive power was not confided to the the members of said House, in the words following: President, but to the Senate. This was not the distribu
“Mr. President, we are commanded in the name of the tion of power, as regulated by the constitution of the House of Representatives, and of all the people of the United States. By that instrument, as he understood it, United States, to impeach John Pickering, Judge of the the execution of the laws was reposed in the President. District Court of the district of New Hampshire, of high The duties of the Senate were legislative. The House of crimes and misdemeanors, and to acquaint the Senate that Representatives had as good authority to ask and demand the House of Representatives will, in due time, exhibit of the President the reasons for performing the duties particular articles of impeachment against him, and make confided to him by the constitution, as the Senate. He good the same.
would ask the gentleman who made this proposition, to “We are further commanded to demand that the Sen- point to the authority for calling upon the President to ate take order for the appearance of the said John Picker. assign the reasons to remove or nominate. If by the coning, to answer to the said impeachment.
stitution he be empowered to see the laws faithfully ere. “On motion,
cuted, as he thought it would not be questioned, he could “Ordered, That the message received this day from the not see how the Senate could claim or exercise the same House of Representatives, respecting the impeachment of power. It was an absurdity in terms to suppose that such John Pickering, Judge of a District Court, be referred to coeval powers could exist; yet it was evident that the Messrs. Tracy, Clinton, and Nicholas, to consider and re- ground assumed in the resolution amounted to such a port thereon."
claim. If the Executive and Senatorial powers be coIn the case of Judge Chase, the articles of impeach- equal, the President has the same right to demand of the ment were presented at the bar of the Senate by Messrs. Senate the reasons why they reject his nomination, that Randolph, Rodney, Nicholson, Early, Nelson, and Geo. the Senate has to call upon him for the causes of removal; W. Campbell, managers on the part of the House of Re- and he might say, that, until such reasons were assigned, presentatives. (Mr. Tazewell here read the proceed- he would make no further nominations, and throw the reings, from which it appeared that the Senate had pre-sponsibility on the Senate. viously decided what forms should be observed in receir. But it is contended that the President is not responsible ing the articles of impeachment, and that the managers, to any tribunal, but to the Senate; and that, if the Senate on appearing at the bar of the Senate, were prepared are not permitted to check him, there is no power any with and presented the articles. ]
where else during his term of office to restrain his tyranny; The case of Blount was not exactly similar to either of and that he may remove from office without cause. the cases he had cited. This was in the year 1797. [Mr. would ask, to what tribunal is the Senate amenable for T. then read the proceedings of that case.] The idea their conduct during their term of service? They were both [said Mr. T.] of calling upon an individual to enter into responsible to the same tribunal--the people. It seemed a recognizance to appear at no named time, at no given to him a strange state of things for the Senate to erect place, and to answer to charges the Lord knew what, (for themselves into a tribunal, for such an investigation. The no articles of impeachment had been made out,) was so decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, in manifestly contrary to justice, that the Senate itself seem- the case of Marbury and Madison, so far as a decision of ed to have abandoned it, for the accused did not appear, that court could effect the constitutional power of the Exand no further proceedings were had until the next ses- ecutive, had put the whole question for ever to rest. By sion of Congress. Under all the circumstances, Mr. T. that decision, the power of removal was demonstrated to took it for granted that Blount's case would not be con- be exclusively in the discretionary power of the President; sidered as a fit precedent, but that the proceedings in the and if he abused it, he could only be punished by the people. cases of Pickering and Chase would be resorted to; and Mr. KNIGHT said, that when the resolution was first he therefore moved that the message of the House of Re- introduced, he had been at a loss to know what object presentatives be referred to a select committee, to consist could be attained by its adoption. If any legislative act of three Senators, to consider and report thereon. could grow out of it, there might be some reason for its
Mr. TəZEWELL's motion having been carried, adoption; but if no legislation could follow, it seemed to
Mr. BENTON asked to be excused from voting on the him that it would be a perfect act of supererogation. He subject; and the question being taken, Mr. B. was ex- should be glad to be informed on this point. When the cused.
President sent nominations to the Senate, it might be very The Senate then proceeded to ballot for a committee; proper to call upon him for his reasons for the removal of and, on counting the ballots, it appeared that Messrs. a public officer, and to inquire why the Senate had been TAZEWELL, BELL, and WEBSTER were chosen.
asked the second time to sanction an appointment to the REMOVALS FROM OFFICE.
Mr. KANE said, the Senate was certainly satisfied that The resolution proposed some time ago by Mr. BAR. it was unnecessary now to consume time in arguing a quesTON, calling upon the President of the United States to tion that had so often been decided, and decided, too, by
April 27, 28, 1830.]
Judge Peck.--Executive Powers of Removal.
yeas and nays. The question had been settled; and, with dent to create vacancies and fill them in the recess of the a view of putting an end to useless and unprofitable de Senate, and to illustrate my remarks by a brief historical bate, he would move to lay the resolution on the table. sketch of the practice of the Government since the aclop
Mr. BARTON requested Mr. Kane to withdraw the mo- tion of the constitution. Notwithstanding the able argution, saying he wished to answer the question of the gen- ments of my friends from Delaware and Missouri (Messrs. tle:nan from Rhode Island; and Mr. KANE having con- CLAitor and Barton) and others who have touched upsented to withdraw the motion, Mr. BARTON addressed on this topic, still the facts, more in detail, are necesthe Senate at some length; and when he had concluded, sary for a full understanding of the subject. The people
Mr. KANE renewed the motion to lay the resolution on want more light, and, so far as my feeble taper will rethe table.
Alect it, they shall have it. This question was decided in the affirmative; ycas 22, But, sir, I will come directly to the questions raised by nays 15,
the resolutions, and my position is this: That the Presi.
dent of the United States may, by removals in the recess TUESDAY, APRIL 27, 1830.
of the Senate, abuse the power; that he has abused it; JUDGE PECK.
and that the Senate, a co-ordinate branch of the ExecuMr. TAZEWELL, from the Select Committee appoint-(tive, is the only effectual tribunal to restrain or correct ed on the subject, made the following report, which was
him; and that, consequently, this is the one which was in. concurred in by the Senate:
tended by the constitution. Whereas tlie Iouse of Representatives on the 26th of
Before I proceed to the discussion of this proposition, I the present month, by two of their inembers, Messrs. will make two brief remarks. The first is, that though Broussas and Stonis, of New York, at the bar of the President and Senate, and to the President alone to fill va
the constitution has given the appointing power to the Senate, impeached James H. Peck, Judge of the District cancies which may happen in the recess,” it says not Court of the United States for the District of Missouri, of high risdemeanors in office, and acquainted the Senate one word about the removing power. Now, as there is that the House of Representatives will, in due time, ex: infer that it belonged 10 the appointing power, or that it
no provisiov for this removing power, it would be fair to hibit particular articles of impeachment against him, and make good the same; and likewise dema:ded, that the was to be defined by law. No law has defined it, and it Senate take order for the appearance of the said James might seem to follow that every removal since the adopH. Peck, to answer the said impeachment: Therefore,
tion of the constitution was illegal and unconstitutional. Resolred, That the Senate will take proper order there
The framers and expounders of this constitution, before it on, of which duc notice shall be given to the House of nion that the removing and appointing powers were co-or.
was ratified by the States and the people, were of the opiRepresentatives. And the committee further recommended to the Senate, the right of removal was vested in the President alone.
dinate. The practice under it, however, has been, that that the Secretary of the Senate be directed to notify the House of Representatives of the foregoing resolution.
The second remark is, that, except of Judiciary offi
cers, the tenure of office is nowhere defined. The quesWEDNESDAY, April 28, 1830.
tions, therefore, which would naturally arise, are, can
Congress define it by law, or is it vested in the discretion THE EXECUTIVE POWERS.
of the President and Senate, or the President alone? Is The following resolutions, offered yesterday by Mr. it inferrible that because the constitution has defined the HOLMES, were taken up for consideration.
tenure of a certain class of officers, that therefore it has “ Resolved, that the President of the United States, by placed all others at the will of the President? It would, the removal of officers, (which removal was not required in iny view, be a far fetched conclusion. for the faithful execution of the law,) and filling the va But, sir, supposing that the power of removal, in the cancies thus created in the recess of the Senate, acts recess of the Senate, be vested by the constitution in the against the interest of the people, the rights of the States, President, still the question recurs, cannot the Senate corand the spirit of the constitution.
rect an abuse of this power? It would seem to me that “ Resolved, That it is the right of the Senate to inquire, there was no other adequate corrective. If the power is an:l the duty of the President to inform them, why, and not here, where else are you to look for it? for what cause or causes, any officer has been removed Sir, it is not merely the loss of office, which has creatin the recess.
ed such individual suffering, and which (as my friend from “ Resolved, That the removals from oflice by the Presi- Missouri remarked) “makes the land pale;" it is not the deot since the last session of the Senate, seem, with few distresses which I witness around me, that most afflicts me; exceptions, to be without satisfactory reasons, against the it is the principle upon which this is attempted to be juspublic interest, the rights of the States, and the spirit of tified; it is the danger to the public interest, from new and the constitution: Wherefore,
inexperienced officers, to manage our complicated con“ Rezolved, That the President of the United States be cerns, and, above all, the alarming doctrine of absolute Es. respecifully requested to communicate to the Senate the ecutive will. These are not only afflicting, but alarming. number, names, and offices, of the officers removed by The States have hitherto looked to the Senate as their him since the last session of the Senate, with the reasons chief security. By the constitution, it was established for for each removal”
the very purpose of guarding against the popular branch In support of these resolutions,
of the Legislature, on the one hand, and the President, Mr. HOLMES rose and said, that it was, perhaps, for- who, by his election, is chiefly a popular Executive, on tunate for him that the Senator from Illinois (Mr. Kaxx] the other. It was just as necessary that the Senate should hud snatched the resolution of the Senator from Missouri, hold an Executive as a Legislative check.
Suppose (Mr. Bartos) out of his bands, and placed it beyond the some great political question should arise: suppose one reach of debate. And, (said Mr. H.) although it was no party should wish to diminishi, and even annihilate, the mark of liberality, and, at other periods, would have been powers of the States, and transfer every thing to the Gencalled by a very different name, yet it has given me an op- eral Government; and that, to accomplish the views of the portunity to discuss the question on a more extended popular branch and the popular President, all the nominascale. I have been waiting for this opportunity (not for tions of Judicial and other officers should be made to the the edification of the Senate, but for the instructions of Senate, the guardian of State rights, from this party-the public) to give my views of the power of the Presi- would it then be contended that we could inquire no far,
(APRIL 28, 1830. ther but into the qualifications of the officer nominated -- was given, and all was hushed and still as death; the comthat we could not look beyond his talents and integrity?pany separated; an avenue was formed; the trumpet soundImagine, further, that we should be engaged in a disas- ed, and lo!"he comes, the conquering hero comes," trous war, and threatened with entire conquest, and that supported and sustained by the grandees of the empire, there was but one man--one Washington, who, as Com- and conducted up to the throne. He bowed graciously mander-in-Chief of our armies, could probably save us, to the ladies of his court, mounted the steps, and was but the President should nominate another, qualified, to seated on “the throne.” be sure, but not pre.eminently so, nor so equal to the Was the Senator from Louisiana present? Was he one crisis as the other; should we then be told we cannot look of the dignitaries who conducted bis majesty up: Sure beyond the qualifications of the candidate? Sir, to test a Iam, no one could better deserve the distinction; butiile principle, it is a fair illustration to imagine a crisis, and was there, and a thought of the scene at New York bal then apply to it the limited powers of the Senate, which happened to cross bis win, what must have been his reare contended for.
flections. Then he was in the heyday of youth; the blood I never expected to witness the time when a majority ran quick, and the pulse beat strong, and hope was realy of the Senate should surrender its powers to the Execu-to scize on fruition. Now, he had arrived, to say the tive chief, nor even when it should be slow to stand for least, to the meridian of life, when reason assumes ure its rights. What, sir, the Senate of the United States, einpire of the passions, and all our predictions tend to the the Representatives of twenty-four sovereignties, once the gloomy side. Sir, he must have looked with indignation most august assemblage in the world, once the inflexible at the disgusting scene, and, with downcast eye and heavy guardians of State rights against Federal encroachment, heart, have turned his back, and, with slow and pensive now yielding to the President almost the last vestige of its step, have retired to his home, lamenting sincertly at this Executive power! What patriot, who observes “the dismal and fatal symptom of the destruction of his count signs of the times,” but must deplore this obsequiousness try's liberty. I do not know that there was a Mark Anthony and humiliation of the Senate of the United States? there, whó “thrice did offer a kingly crown, which lic
Sir, I see in this, symptoms of monarchy more strong did thrice refuse." No, that would have been premature. and palpable than those which disturbed the nerves of the Then the Rubicon had not been passed; then the ouiposts Senator from Louisiana, [Mr. Livingston.) He has giv- had not been surrendered; then the Senate had not yielder en us a vivid description of the first inauguration of the up all its exccutive powers, and accorded to the Presiden first President of the United States; and he then imagined an unlimited and boundless discretion. After all this has that he saw, in the extravagant and enthusiastic adulation been donc, a crownis a matter of course; it is but a symbol of the man, symptoms of a monarchical tendency. I, too, of the power surrendered; the seal and sign manual of sir, think that extravagant adulation or adoration of men the deed of surrender. should not be encouraged, as it tends to detach our affec Sir, I would not look upon “the signs of the tinks" tions from our institutions, and to fix them upon those who with a jaundiced eye; it is not my habit to despond. I contributed most to establish them. A perpetual, habitu- would hope even against hope; but when the Senate gives al praise of an individual has but too often converted the way, where is the ground of hope? Once the American adorers into slaves, and the adored into a tyrant. But I people regarded it as the bulwark of their liberties. l suspect, that, in the case to which he alludes, he was was the rock in the midst of the ccean, defying the stort. (begging his pardon) a little fastidious, if not capricious. The tempest of executive power had burst ir: rain upou Washington bad been too well tried, and was too firm a its brow, and the billows of popular fury had broken patriot, to be seduced by Aatteries, adulations, or hosan- harmless at its base; but, alas! they now see, to their unut
And besides, sir, was there not an apology, if not a terable disappointment, that it was but a house built upon justification, for this pageantry? We had endured the dis- the sand, and the rains descended, and the winis blew, aliel tresses of the Revolutionary war; Washington had, to say the floods came, and beat upon that house, and it fell, and the least, been the chief actor in that war, and had con- great was the fall thereof. Aye, great indeel, for it contributed more than any other to its successful termination. tained within it the ark of our liberties; and when the Peace came; but peace found us poor, distracted, and house fell, that ark was crushed to atoms. We, the reunited only by “a rope of sand.” Something was neces- presentatives of the States--we, their wateh.men upon sary to place us on an equality, and to unite our energies. their walls—we, the guardians of their sovereignty, have A Federal constitution was to be formed; the object was surrendered up all executive discretion to a single Executaccomplished, and principally by his agency. He was tive Chief, who can create vacancies in offices, supply unanimously elected the first Chief Magistraté, to put the them at his will, and is responsible to no carthly tribunal machine in motion, and to give the new Government an Sir, it is not altogether sympathy for friends w bo ste impetus, which should secure its successful operation. made the victims of this relentless proscription, which inThe people looked back upon the past; upon the distresses duces me to stand here to defend these resolutions; it is of the struggle, and the consequent anarchy; they looked not merely the injuries and cruelties which we erett forward with hopeful prophecy to the future, for an end of where witness, and which, as my friend from Missouri Mr. their toils, to prosperity, liberty, and happiness, which Banton] has expressed it, “makes the land pale," which they have since enjoyed in full fruition. Was it then afflicts me most. I know that to see the honest, faithful, strange, that, with such a prospect before them, they aged patriotic republican, persecuted and punished for should have indulged in an extravagance of joy, and opinion's sake, would extract a tear from the eye of the have idolized the man who had done so much, and was most obdurate. Yet I almost forgot their misery and a destined, as they believed, to do so much more? Yet in the all absorbing consideration of the interest and litet am against idolizing any inan.
I have heard of a celebra-ties of my country. It has been roundly asserted on is tion of the last eighth of January, the anniversary of a foor, aye, in the Senate of the United States, (and wouhai single victory. The cases were very different; one bad that I could blot this last fact from my remembrance for saved a city after a peace, and the other had conquered a ever,) that the President of the United States may, at ks peace, and saved his country. Here, too, was a spacious unlimited and illimitable discretion, rempore efficers & 30 palace, a splendid dome. At one end was erected “a recess, and appoint others to fill the vacancies, and that throne,” and over it was “a canopy,” which was sur- it is his right, and even his duty, to concert his reasons 31: rounded by the ladies of the palace. This palace was motives. This is his own doctrine: for this power filled to overflowing with youth, elegance, and beauty; claimed for him by his personal and confidential friends. they were engaged in the mazy dance, when the word it has, inoreover, been exercised to an extent unprece
April 28, 1830.]
(SENATE. dented in this or any other civilized country in modern peachment? Now, to name it provokes me to an involun. times.
tary smile--not a smile of approbation, but of a very difSir, I regret that it has fallen to the lot of the humble ferent character. Impeachment! Convict a President of individual who addresses you, to assist in exposing the fal- the United States by two-thirds of the Senate, for an exlacy of this humiliating and alarming doctrine.
ercise of a power in which a majority of the same Senate Šir, the powers of this Senate, once surrendered to the had repeatedly determined that he could do no wrong? President, can never be reclaimed; once gone, they are Sir, such a proposition carries upon the very face of it its gone for ever. You will, probably, never find a Presi- own condemnation. Besides, the Senate has no control dent so very complaisant, so very modest, as to ask you to over impeachments; it cannot impeach; it can only try. It take them back.. Surely it is not to be expected from the stands here as the guardian of “State rights;" and is it present Chief Magistrate. If the President of the United probable that the House of Representatives, the popular States abuses this power of reinoval, as we know that this branch, would ever impeach à President for violating President has done, and most wantonly, where is the re- these? Sir, the framers of this constitution were never dress? Can Congress legislate to reach the case? In 1826, so stupid as to entertain a thought that impeachment was a bill, with an elaborate report, was presented by a select the remedy for this abuse of executive power. Mr. Madicommittee, to restrain executive patronage, which pro- son and others, to be sure, entertained an opinion that it vided that whicnever the President removed and appointed was an impeachable offence. Mr. Hamilton was of the in the recess, it should be his duty, on his nomination to the belief that the power of removal by the President did not Senate of the officer thus appointed, to communicate to exist at all. But I shall tremble for my country when the them the reasons for the removal! The bill and report time shall come that the President of the United States have, after slumbering for four years, been revived this shall be tried on an impeachment. It would be a perilSession, and are now on your orders of the day. Whether ous experiment, and testing the constitution in its weakest it is intended to act upon this subject or not, it is very cer-point. Nothing, perhaps, but absolute, palpable, overt tain that this remedy can never reach the mischief. Sup- treason could justify the attempt. The event would agipose that this bill should pass both Houses of Congress, tate the Government to its centre. It would be the shock of and you, the friends of the President, should, in a body, an earthquake. May I never live to see the time when a present it to him for his signature, what would probably President of the United States shall be tried on an imbe his reply?“ Gentlemen, you have, over and over, peachment! However, sir, I never shall live to see it. So again and again, determined that I had a right to remove long as the executive patronage is thus profusely poured and appoint in the recess, ad libitum, and upon my into both Houses of Congress, my life for it, no President high responsibility. I have you here before me.in will ever be impeached, much less convicted, let him do black and white.' You have repeatedly settled the point, what he may. One-eighth of the last and this Senate, and that this was a business exclusively my own, and that you a large number of the members of the other House, have had no right to question my reasons or motives; and if you been appointed to important offices, and this, too, against should, I was not bound to respond. Now, gentlemen, if Gen. Jackson's own solemn pledge; and, after this, never I have this power, pray where did I get it? Surely not tell me that the remedy for any abuse of power is impeachby legislation; for Congress has never given it by law. ment. There is, then, but one answer to the question: I derive But the Senator from Louisiana (Mr. Livingston] it from the constitution itself; and if it is a grant in the can feel no danger of executive patronage from appointconstitution, what right have you to take it from me by ments from the Senate; and his reason is, that a seat of a legislation. Your law is, therefore, unconstitutional. Take Senator is so exalted and so desirable, that no gift of the it back; and if two-thirds can be found to take this power Executive could detach him from it. It might have been from me, which a majority of you have repeatedly declared so once, and I wish to heaven it were so still. But I am I now have by the constitution, do it, and I will appeal to a practical man; I take things as they are, and I consider the people, and we shall see what credit you will get for one fact worth a hundred theories. We know full wellconsistency.” Now suppose he should make this concise the truth stares us in the face—that there are many offices but pungent argument, how would you answer him I in the gift of the Executive, which Senators will gladly think it might puzzle the wisest to give an answer satisfac- accept, because they have accepted them. This throw's tory to him.
his theory to the winds. But as lie has indulged in spe. But he might add: “Gentlemen, this is not all. Your culation, let me speculate too; and I think I can find bill and report were presented at an carly period of the strong reasons why Senators would become solicitous for administration of my predecessor; it was permitted to executive offices. It would seem to me there were two sleep till this time; now, when I, at your own instance and classes that would desire them: The first is, the young request, have excrcised the power of removal beyond all and ambitious; and ambition, properly tempered and unprecedent, you offer me a law to restrain me. Whatever der reasonable restraint, is a virtue. The Senate is not a may be your motives, the public will draw but one infer- "stepping stone” to the highest offices the gift of the ence from the transaction; they will say, this subject was republic; it is not “ambition's ladder," on which to not acted on under Mr. Adams's administration, because it climb to the two first honors. Since the first organization was unnecessary; he never abused this power; there was of the Government, I do not recollect a single candidate no mischief, and therefore no need of a remedy. But the for President or Vice President (whether successful or danger has now become so alarming, the distress and mise- not) taken from the Senate. There have been, and I ry which I have created have produced such sensations, trust there are now, men in the Senate, quite as well qualithat I must be restrained by my own friends; if, therefore, fied for these offices as those officers are; but it seems to be I approve this law, 1 sign my own condemnation, my own the settled custom, tha“ neither of them shall be taken death warrant. Take it back, and if two-thirds of both from this body. How, shen, are the aspirants here to Houses will pass this vote of censure on me, let them do reach the object of their ambition? By being made “preit.” So we see, sir, that this remedy by legislation would miers," or other heads of departments. This is the road be visionary; when a President conducted correctly, there to glory. The other class consists of those in advanced would be no necessity for the law; and wher, as in the case life, who have been long here, and are fatigued, and before us, he abused the power, his approval of the law perhaps disgusted, with the toils and conflicts which have would be an acknowledgment of the abuse; consequently lately become but too common, and yet from long habit the remedy by legislation is the merest vision.
they would not wish to retire to private life, as the otium What other remedy do grave Senators propose? Im- cum dignitate would not exactly suit them. They would
Executive Powers of Removal.
[APRIL 28, 1830.
be gratified with a comfortable office, sufficient to sup- been summoned to the bar of this Senate to answer for a port them, and give them an employment which would contempt. But it would now have been madness to have keep the mind from rusting. Hence the facts and rea- proposed it. We are the humble servants of these pettv sonings prove that Senators would be as likely to become tyrants. They all act upon their “high respons:bility.” office seekers as other men; and, as they are subject to You will not allow us to ask the President why he is doing like passions, they would be influenced by like consider this? And if you yourselves know the causes, you refuse ations, and therefore might become the creatures of exe- to inform us. Can it be doubted, that if you of the majocutive will. From all these considerations, it seems to me rity had satisfactory reasons, you would not withhold them most manifest, that, to check this abuse of power by im- from us. We invite you to join us in an inquiry of the peachment alone, would be a hopeless experiment. President, why this extraordinary course has been pur
But another remedy has been named--“public opi- sued--why this general sweep has been made. If you nion." If the last would provoke a smile, this would pro- know, tell us; give us the satisfactory information, and voke a laugh. Surrender to the President the power of there is an end to the call. It may be that you do know removal and appointment in the recess, and at his will the President's reasons for bis removals, and that they and pleasure, and then correct his abuses by public opi- will not bear the light. His friends, I am sure, bave nion! Sir, can gentlemen be serious in this? He has the not the moral or political courage to avow, and justify to right to withbold the evidence on which he acts; he is not the world, that it is all a system of rewards and punishobliged to disclose a single reason, but public opinion is ments; that honest and independent officers must be to judge him! Yet all this while he is perverting and hurled out, bowever faithful, to give place to partisans, corrupting “public opinion.” He can remove and ap- however worthless. But, sir, is it uncharitable for us to point at pleasure; he has the army at his heels; he has say that these removals are all a partisan, a personal affair? the navy at his beck; he has the treasury at his control; Whenever there is, or you think there is, a removal for during four years he holds the purse and the sword. Is goud cause, you are ready enough to communicate it; this all? No; he has more--the post office and the press. you seize it with alacrity, and proffer it to us with a sort He has a sentinel at every post office; he has a recruit of triumph. But there is only now and then one of this ing officer at every press. This, then is the way to check description; most of the cases are yet involved in the these abuses! During all this period of four years, of- deepest mystery. You know that nothing has been gain. ficial influence will be subduing our liberties and indeed, but much lost, by this relentless proscription: for, as pendence; the gangrene will have been spreading, the a general remark, the officers removed were unquesleprosy will have become broad and deep, and nothing tionably better than those who succeeded them. Now, but the interposition of Heaven can save us. Did our if the President has removed hundreds of faithful and cacivil fathers, who gave us this constitution, deem it pos- pable officers for political opinions, he has flagrantly sible that the time would ever come, when any man should abused his trust, and violated the constitution. If it is not imagine that an Executive usurpation for four years could so, give us the true constitutional reason, and we will be only be corrected at the end of the term? Yet this is the satisfied. But there is good ground to suspect that, if the consolation which gentlemen would administer when they President had any satisfactory reasons, his friends would seem to admit, or cannot deny, the abuses of which we never have attempted to shield him by the slavish doccomplain. Here I present, concisely and at one view, the trines we have heard advanced. I confess I was thunonly remedies of Executive usurpation-legislation, im- derstruck, that old fashioned republicans, "dyed in the peachment, and public opinion; each, or all, entirely in- wool,” should attempt to enforce the principle of soveadequate, utterly visionary. This enables us to define a reign will and unlimited confidence. If the doctrines interm lately introduced into our modern political code--culcated by the Senator from Louisiana are sound, there “high responsibility.” Now, as words are only intended is not a monarch in Europe more absolute than the Preto convey ideas, it will be well to ascertain the meaning sident of the United States. If no one can inquire, no of the term. The President can remove from office and one can judge; and if no one can judge, how can it be appoint in the recess, and no one has a right to inquire determined that the President has abused his power? the cause; and, if he docs, the President is under no ob. How can the guilt be made manifest, and the abuse corligation to answer. He is responsible, but not obliged to rected, when the President has a right to keep all his rea. respond to any earthly tribunal which has any right what. sons and motives for ever locked up in his royal bosom ever to consider of the response; and this is a high re- Sir, in the name of that liberty so dear to man, and in the sponsibility! “High responsibility,” then, is unquestion- presence of my country and my God, I here enter my able, unlimited, illimitable discretion; and unquestionable, most solemn protest against these doctrines, as fit only for unlimited, illimitable discretion is sovereign will, and tyrants and slaves. But the Senator from Louisiana would sovereign will is absolute despotism; wherefore " high re humble us still further. The President may remore and sponsibility” is absolute despotism. Now, I think, sir, appoint in the recess, and decline to nominate the officer that this is reasoning syllogistically, or a fair conclusion from thus appoined to the Senate at the next session, or, if the your premises. It hence follows fairly, if not irresistibly, Senate rejects him in either case, as I understand, the that there is no other check upon this abuse of power but temporary commission would not expire until the end of the Senate. Here the people and the States are to look, the Senate's session, and thereupon the President may and here they have bitherto looked.
appoint the officer again to fill the same vacancy, again But, sir, each subordinate executive officer, also, is happening in the recess. If the President could be sus. securely intrenched behind this high responsibility. At tained in this construction by a professed constitutional the request of a friend who had been very unceremo. lawyer; if he could have a pretext so plausible as this, niously removed from the post office, I wrote a letter to my life for it, he will assume the power, for it is characterthe Postmaster General, to inquire the cause of his remo- istic of the man. What, then, would your Senate become val. This new fledged, or rather unfledged head of a re- Less, if possible, than it had already become, not even cently created departmen's
, did not condescend to an- the register of the royal decrees. The Senate reject the swer the inquiry of a Senator, and I received a note from nomination of an officer who had been appointed in the one of his subordinates, which was in substance this: recess! He holds, says the Senator, his temporary com"I am directed by the Postmaster General to inform you mission until the end of the session. As the commission that you are not permitted to know, sir.” In the proud and the session expire together, the commission did not days of the republic, when the Senate was what it should expire in session; it consequently did in the recess. With be, the Postmaster General would, for such a reply, have unlimited, illimitable descretion, sovereign will, and a