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HON. LEWIS CASS, OF MICHIGAN,

ON THE

PRESIDENT'S VETO MESSAGES

ON

THE RIVER AND HARBOR APPROPRIATION BILLS.

DELIVERED IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, JULY 7, 1856.

WASHINGTON:
PRINTED AT THE CONGRESSIONAL GLOBE OFFICE.

1856.

RIVER AND HARBOR IMPROVEMENTS.

The Senate having under reconsideration, agreeably to the immense basin, drained by the great artery the Constitution, the bill to remove obstructions to naviga-l of the North American continent, which, drawtion in the mouth of the Mississippi river at the Southwest ing its supplies from the fountains of the North, Pass and Pass à l'Outre, which had been returned by the

pours them into the ocean under a tropical sun, President of the United States, with his objections

of its powers of production, the impediments to its navigable streams, and its claim,

not upon the Mr. CASS said: Mr. President, the principles liberality, but upon the justice of Congress. It involved in the bill under consideration, and which is a magnificent region; and its settlement and has been returned to us with the veto of the Presi- progress are among the proudest monuments of dent, are the same as those involved in the bills human enterprise and industry, which the world for the removal of obstructions in the St. Clair || has ever seen since man was banished from his and St. Mary's rivers, each of which has been first residence, and went out with the primeval marked by similar executive disapprobation. cursé upon him. The enduring blessing has it Remarks applicable to the former apply equally proved in the dispensation of a kind Providenceto the latter, excepting the local differences, which, * In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. however, do not touch the general subject of con- It is but yesterday, as it were, that the upper porstitutional power. Under these circumstances, | tion of this world of forest and prairie came as the people of Michigan feel peculiar interest in || within the domain of civilization. I have dethe contemplated improvement of the two rivers | scended its mighty river two thousand miles in a com.straits rather-connecting the great northwest-|| birch canoe, when there was hardly a white man ern lakes, and forming the line of demarkation | above St. Louis, and already it is becoming the between the United States and Canada, and also highway of an empire. in the question of the removal of river and harbor The man yet lives, who was living when the obstructions, I shall trespass upon the indulgence first tree fell before the pioneer's stroke in all that of the Senate, by offering for its consideration | vast region of power and productiveness; and the some observations upon the power of appropria- | man now lives, who will live to see it contain one tion for these objects; a subject of importance to hundred millions of people. It seems to be a the whole country, but vitally so to certain por-dream, rather than a reality-the fantasy of an tions of it. I leave to others, to whom it more eastern imagination, instead of the stern perappropriately belongs, to portray the condition formance and promise of actual life. I have seen and the wants of the vast Mississippi region it grow up to its present gigantic proportions, interested in this subject, confining any local but it will continue to grow and grow, long after views I may present to the country where I have | I shall have become indifferent to that scene of long lived, and with which I am sore intimately Il youthful enterprise and exertion—that object of acquainted.

national pride and hope. I say hope, sir, because T'he Senator from Louisiana, who has just the destinies of this Republic, in the event of taken his seat, (Mr. SLIDELL,] has clearly and internal dissensions, will be found in the hearts forcibly explained the claims, which the obstruc- and heads and hands of the people of the West, tions at the mouth of the Mississippi have upon and there they will

, I trust, be safe. That mighty the attention of the Government, and, in my community will hold this Union together with opinion, has shown conclusively, that the views bands of iron, softened by affection and patriotisma of the President in relation to this subject are to bands of silk. They cannot leave you, and erroneous, and cannot be maintained; and some with

with their permission you will never leave them. days since we heard from his colleague [Mr. And should the time come when a dissolution of BENJAMIN] a powerful and graphic description of this Confederation shall be seriously attempted,

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a MAGNIFICENT ONE.

it will be wise to remember, that beyond the far to destroy its principle of confederation, and Atlantic border there is an empire of freemen- to substitute that of consolidation. But I think, by instinct, and education, and feeling-lovers of sir, that a very cursory examination of the subequal rights and free government-Americans by ject will be enough to show, that this association principle and patriotism-strong in numbers and of objects has no legitimate bond, and that the in all the elements of power, and holding on to President's apprehensions are as groundless, as the great politicăl work of their fathers with a the assumption itself is erroneous. grasp of force and a tenacity of purpose, which Sir, seriously to assail such a system is to no threats can enfeeble, no promises can relax. attack a phantom. No man advocates it now. Before the evil day has done its work, they will I am not aware that any man ever did advocate do theirs. They will strive to preserve, and God || it as within the power of Congress. As a matgrant they may be able to preserve, the ark of our ter of speculation extensive crudities connected freedom from danger, and carry it safely through with this power may have been advanced, but the troubled waters, though these may overflow they are not worthy of serious consideration, . all their banks

And I must confess my surprise that the PresiWe have now, sir, five messages from the dent has so tenaciously adhered to the idea, and President, communicating his views upon the sub- so repeatedly dwelt upon it, that the removal of ject of harbor and river improvements, or, in other any obstruction to navigation is a part of a great words, upon the removal of obstructions from system of internal improvements, with all its the navigable waters of our country. Though I objections and dangers. A bad designation is do not find them identical, yet I prefer no charge sometimes an overmatch for a sound argument; of inconsistency against that high Magistrate, and the power to render a harbor accessible may and in that respect I agree with the Senator from perhaps" be defeated by putting it into obnoxVirginia, (Mr. MASON,] and not with the Sena- ious company, and associating it with a gigantic tor from Louisiana, (Mr. BENJAMIN.] I have lived || scheme of public works, and as making part of long enough to know, that rigid tenacity of opin- | it

, when it would survive the attack and gain ion is not a proof of wisdom, any more than habit-strength by a true constitutional analysis. Unual vacillation; and that we live to little purpose, || doubtedly, at one time, there was a tendency if we do not learn, that the experience of yester- | to push a plan of material improvements to a day may produce a change in our convictions of dangerous extent, when the term “internal imto-morrow. That the President's ideas upon this provements” was almost a party watchword, subject have gradually become more unfavorable and was cherished with fond hope by those, who to the exercise of the power is perfectly obvious, sought to make our Government what was called and that the alteration has been the result of ma

But General Jackson, by ture reflection no one has the right to question. his Maysville veto, dealt a fatal stroke to this So far as this change bears necessarily upon the project, and since then a system of internal imcourse of the discussion, I shall examine it, but provements has disappeared from the political I shall not travel out of my way to seek it. arena. He denied the right of Congress to make

The President, in each of these documents, roads and canals, and declared that the Constituspeaks of a general system of internal improve- || tion must be changed before such a power could ments, and connects the removal of every obstruc- l be exercised. It is a well known fact that, at the tion with a gigantic scheme of artificial works; time he took this decisive measure in defense of and, in the most elaborate of these veto messages, the Constitution, there were applications pending he quotes the remarks of Mr. Adams upon the before Congress for objects of this nature to the subject, who described the plan as one to checker amount of $106,000,000, which would have been over the whole Union with railroads and canals,' but the inauguration of an era of splendid works, and to which the President adds, as a necessary

had it not been for this act of wisdom and firmconsequence of the establishment of the power, But, while doing so, he admitted the turnpike and ordinary carriage roads, the drain- / authority to render navigation more "safe and ing of marshes, the construction of bridges, the easy" by the removal of impediments, and therecreation of levees, the oonstruction of canals for after approved many bills for that purpose. And irrigation, and all the possible means of the the Senator from Georgia [Mr. TOOMBS) is under material improvement of the earth, by developing an entire misapprehension, when he supposes its natural resources, anywhere and everywhere, that General Jackson denied the power of Conéven within the proper jurisdiction of the several gress to remove obstructions from rivers and States;” and he adds, also, objects of public in- harbors. At the very session when he sent in struction, hospitals, establishments of science and the Maysville veto, and after he took that step, art, libraries, and works of public utility. And, he approved of appropriations for these very obif I understand the President, he maintains that ljects, to the amount of $672,566. And, during 56 the admission of the power in either of its senses hís Administration, a larger sum was appropriated implies its existence in the other;" or, in different by Congress for these purposes, and approved by words, that if Congress have the constitutional | him, than during any other equal period of our power to remove an obstruction in the Mississippi || legislation. Mr. Calhoun, also, while denouncing river, it has also the power to provide for the so works belonging to internal improvements” as variouş objects above enumerated. If such be his unconstitutional, maintains the power of Conopinion, he might well withhold his assent from gress to make “appropriations and expenditures a measure, which would work such a fundamental for the improvement of the navigation of the change in the structure of our Government, going ||Mississippi and its waters. "

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