페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

Dsc. 12, 13, 1825.]

Imprisonment for Debt.

[SENATE.

duce the gentleman from Kentucky, to permit his reso-object of such a system was merely to benefit the debtor lution to lie on the table till the Standing Committees and, in consequence, the creditor became alarmed. This were elected, and if it was found that a large portion of was not the fact. One object certainly was to secure rebusiness was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, lief to the honest deb r; but one equally important he would unite with him in referring it to a Select Com- would be considered, the securing the just rights of the mittee, provided the resolution offered by the gentleman creditor. Any one who had surveyed the United States from South Carolina, (Mr. HAYNE,) should go to the same during the last six months, and had witnessed the tremenCommittee; both propositions, Mr. M. said, had reference dous effects of the bankrupcies that had prevailed in difto the relationship between debtor and creditor, and it was ferent parts of the Union, must have been convinced that difficult to legislate so as to preserve the rights of the the most crying evils existed in regard to that subject— creditor, and yet give liberty to the honest debtor, which fraudulent debtors giving undue preference, making false they all had so much at heart. When the two subjects consignments, &c. and putting fair dealing at defiance. should come before the same committee, they would con- Mr. H. said, whilst he was disposed to join with the gen sider them in every point of view, and digest such a sys-tleman from Kentucky, in affording relief to honest debttem as would be acceptable to the House. The gentle- ors of every class and description, he should be no less man from Kentucky had asserted, that no Standing Com-anxious to secure the just rights of creditors. All he demittee in either House had ever brought forward a pro-sired was, that the whole subject, in all its bearings position of this kind: the gentleman had himself, Mr. M. and relations, should go to the enlightened committee, said, brought forward the subject on the first business who would deliberate seriously on it, and present the day of each Session for the last three years, and he wouldviews which their deliberations would suggest; and he appeal to him and to others whether its failure was not had no doubt, if the talents and experience of the Senate to be attributed to its having been brought forward ori- were directed to the subject, the result would be a wise ginally in an undigested form; and whether there was and beneficial law. not more probability of something being accomplished by Mr. MILLS then moved to postpone the further consileaving one Committee to consider both propositions to-deration of the subject to Tuesday next, which, after a few gether, than by bringing each forward before distinct remarks from Mr. JOHNSON, of Kentucky, was agreed to. Committees. With this explanation, Mr. M. said he The Senate adjourned to Monday. should move to lay the resolution on the table.

MONDAY, DEC. 12, 1825.

Mr. MACON, observed, that, to his mind, there was a clear distinction between the measure proposed by the This day was principally occupied in the election of resolution and a bankrupt law. A law to abolish impri- Officers of the Senate. After several ballotings, WALTER sonment for debt would apply to all honest debtors of LowRIE, of Pennsylvania, (late a member of this body) whatever class or vocation; whereas a bankrupt law was chosen Secretary. MOUNTJOY BAILEY, was chosen would apply to a few comparatively, as he understood Sergeant at Arms, and HENRY TIMS, Doorkeeper. The that bankrupt laws embraced merchants only; the lat-Rev. Dr. STAUGHTON was chosen Chaplain to the Senate. ter were also highly penal, and if a fraudulent bankrupt was caught, he would be severely punished. [Hanged, said Mr. MILLS, in an under voice.] The gentleman from Massachusetts says, hang him. I did not know, sir, that the people in his part of the country were so fond of hanging; but I confess I prefer relieving debtors, honest ones, by the mode proposed by the gentleman from Kentucky, and shall vote for his resolution.

TUESDAY, DEC. 13, 1825.
IMPRISONMENT FOR DEBT.

The Senate proceeded to the consideration of the following resolution, submitted on a former day, by Mr. JOHNsox, of Kentucky:

"Resolved, That a Committee be appointed to inquire into the expediency of abolishing Imprisonment for Debt." Mr. HAYNE, of S. C. thought the suggestion made on the subject the other day, by the gentleman from Massachusetts, (Mr. MILLS,) a very good one, and he hoped it would meet the approbation of the honorable mover: he should, therefore, move to amend the resolution by adding the following words:

“And, also, that they be instructed to inquire into the expediency of establishing an uniform system of Bankruptcy throughout the United States, with leave to report by bill or otherwise."

Mr. HAYNE, of S. C. said he had that morning the honor of submitting a resolution on the subject of bankruptcies; in so doing, his object was not to call for the immediate decision of the Senate on that proposition, but to refer it to some committee, when they shall have been appointed. He should be particularly desirous, if the gentleman from Kentucky, (Mr. JOHNSON,) should obtain his Select Committee, with a view of considering the subject in all its bearings, to ascertain how far process in the Courts of the United States might be modified, and how far general relief might be extended throughout the Union; that the committee, viewing the whole of the Mr. H. remarked, further, that, by referring both subsubject, might present the result of their deliberations to jects to the same committee, sufficient time would be givthe Senate. He should still maintain his resolution, anden for the inquiry, and the whole ground would be occuif the gentleman from Kentucky should succeed in his pied: the only objection would be, its not being referred proposition, he intended to move, at the proper time, to to the Committee on the Judiciary, but that committee refer it to that committee. He was not disposed to object would, he presumed, have so much to do, it would, probato that proposition, and he hoped that, in the spirit of bly, not be able to bestow the necessary attention on the mutual accommodation, he would not object to the sugdetails of these measures. gestion which he now made. The proposition of the Mr. JOHNSON, of Kentucky, said he should make no gentleman from Kentucky, Mr. H. said, would afford re-objection, as far as he was concerned, but would vote for hef to unfortunate debtors of a particular class, for that the proposition, provided no objection were made to it by hill never did propose to extend it beyond the Courts of the Committee on the Judiciary. the United States. The relief afforded would, therefore, only be as one in a hundred; but a mild and judicious bankrupt law would not be confined to this class, but its benefits would be extended to every class throughout the Union. This was a subject for fair inquiry-there existed, Mr. H. said, in this House, and in the nation, a prejudice on the subject of bankruptcy. Many imagined that the

The amendment was agreed to, and the resolution, as amended, adopted.

The Committee was ordered to consist of seven members. JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS. The Senate then proceeded to the consideration of the following resolution, submitted yesterday, by Mr. KANE, of Illinois:

SENATE.]

On the Judiciary.

[DEC. 13, 1825.

"Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary be in- a great constitutional question-one vitally interesting to structed to inquire into the expediency of so amending the the Union, and particularly to the State which he in part Acts of Congress regulating processes in the Courts of represented-a State which was unfortunate enough to be the United States as to place the persons and property the first member of this Confederacy, which had felt judi(with regard to the proceedings against them) of citizens cial power under the enactment of a code of laws issued of the States admitted into the Union since the 29th of Sep-under the name of Rules of Court. Mr. J. said, that the tember, 1789, upon a footing of equal security with the Federal Circuit and District Courts for the Kentucky Dispersons and property of citizens of the original States." trict, had issued certain rules of court, which operated, to Mr. HOLMES, of Maine, said he should be much grati-all intents and purposes, as the execution laws of the State fied if the honorable gentleman who had moved the resolution would briefly state his object in making the motion, as his views would probably be useful to the Committee on the Judiciary.

of Kentucky, so far as related to judgments or decrees obtained in the Federal Courts for that State. He had not those rules of court to present to the Senate, which he called a code of execution laws; at a proper time, he hop

Mr. KANE then rose, and said, that the explanation re-ed to have it in his power to present them; for the prequired by the honorable gentleman from Maine, lay within sent he would say that these rules, if he recollected right, narrow limits, and might e explained in few words. The regulated the ca. sa. which took the body of the debtor; object is, as expressed upon the face of the resolution, to they regulated the forth-coming bond and the replevin procure such amendments in the acts of Congress, regu- bond; the terms upon which real and personal estate lating processes in the Courts of the United States, as will should be sold; at what time, and upon what credit; and, place the citizens of the several States upon a footing of in fine, he considered the rules a complete system (of its equal security in their persons and property. The Pro- kind) of execution laws; laws which were not in force in cess act of the 28th September, 1789, amongst other Virginia; laws which were not in force in Kentucky; and things, in effect, provided that the modes of process in the laws which were not in force by acts of Congress. These Circuit and District Courts, in suits at common law, Courts, acting under the authority of the United States, should conform to those then used in the Supreme Courts declared that this power had been exercised in conseof the States. By "modes of process" was meant, as is quence of a decision of the Supreme Court of the Union. decided in the case of Wayman vs. Southard, by the Su- He had not examined that opinion with so much accuracy preme Court, every step taken in a cause; and "indicates as to give an opinion whether he concurred with the the progressive course of the business from its commence- Judges of the Circuit and District Court for the State of ment to its termination." Thus, the persons and proper- Kentucky as to latitude of principle which they believed ty of the citizens of the States then in existence, were the Supreme Court had assumed. It would, however, placed under the protection and guardianship of their own become the bounden duty of Congress to look into that Jaws. This provision continued in force, without modifi-matter, and see if it were possible that irresponsible judication, until the act of May, 1792, was passed, by which cial officers had assumed the right, and had exercised the the same was made subject to such alterations and addi- | power, of making laws for a sovereign and independent tions as the Circuit and District Courts might make, and State. He thought they might be satisfied with the exerto such regulations as the Supreme Court of the United cise of the power to declare State laws unconstitutional, States should, by rule, prescribe. He did not under- at their will and pleasure, and leave to the Representastand, nor did he know that it was so understood any tives of the People to frame the laws. From what he where, that these "modes of proceeding" were by this could learn, he supposed the Judges had, in giving this latter act made subject to any alterations, additions, or re-opinion, doubted whether the regulation and creation of gulations, other than such as time and practice should rules, to regulate the sale of property, and the disposition show to be indispensable to the correct administration of of the body of the debtor, was the exercise of legislative justice. The benefits of the provisions of '89, have been power. Mr. Jonsson said he would appeal to every memadjudged to have application to the citizens of those ber of this body-he would appeal to every intelligent States only which had existence when the act was passed. jurist of this nation-whether, in England or America, if It was for the purpose of placing the citizens of other it was at all doubtful whether the system of execution States upon the same footing, that he ventured to intro- laws was not a substantive and a vitally important legisla duce this resolution. These citizens, in their persons and tive power; and whether, in all the States, in the United property, are now subject to be dealt with, not in a man- States, and in Great Britain, the statute books did not inner prescribed by their own laws, but according to such variably prove that legislative bodies, the Representatives rales as the Courts may think proper to adopt. The State of the People, where they exist, have not at all times which he had the honor in part to represent, as is the exercised this power exclusively. Mr. J. said, in many case with its neighbors, Indiana and Missouri, has no other cases the Court might be authorized to interfere in the than a District Judge. No inference was, however, to be forms of judicial proceedings; and, like the colors of the drawn from the few remarks he had submitted, that the rainbow, it might sometimes be doubtful where legislative Judges are blameable for the manner in which they have power ended and judicial power began. But, in the case exercised so large a discretion. The principle is to be mentioned, he could not conceive of a higher or more exdreaded; and the cause of complaint may be removed by clusively legislative question, than that which had domiextending the benefits of the act of '89 to all the States, nion over the property and liberty of the citizen. But, or by the passage of a law establishing a system uniform he said, he should not longer trespass upon the patience and impartial in its operations. It was not essential to the and courtesy of the Senate, but should conclude by sayexplanation required of him, nor to the purpose of the re- ing that he believed that the exercise of such a power, by solution, that he should, on this occasion, indicate a pre- the Judges, was as contrary to the spirit of our Constituference for any particular plan; but he would think himself tion, as if the King of England and his two Houses of fortunate if he had succeeded in convincing the Senate Lords and Commons had given us this code. that further legislation was necessary.

Mr. R. M. JOHNSON, of Kentucky, remarked, that he had not taken notice of the proposition of the gentleman from Illinois, until he found it on his table, and he was at some loss to know the precise objects which the gentleman intended to embrace; but he was now extremely happy to learn, from the explanation given, that the motion involved

Mr. HOLMES, of Maine, said his object was attained by the clear explanation given by the honorable mover. He had pointed out the evil and the remedy he proposed: this was the object he had in view in calling on him, and he was perfectly satisfied.

The question was then taken and the resolution agreed to.

[blocks in formation]

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 14, 1825.

The Senate proceeded to consider the following resolution, submitted yesterday by Mr. EATON :

Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary inquire into the expediency of so amending the judicial system of the United States, as that each and all the States may equally participate in its benefits.

[SENATE.

ing of the gentleman from Pennsylvania was correct. If he recollected right, both the bills brought forward last year, had reference particularly to the prevention of smuggling: in that view, he thought the subject came properly before the Committee of Finance, and should hope that it went there now.

The resolutions were then agreed to.

The Senate then proceeded to consider the following resolution, submitted by Mr. LLOYD, of Massachusetts, yesterday:

Resolved, That the Secretary of the Navy be directed to cause to be laid before the Senate, the proceedings and judgment of the Court of Inquiry in relation to the employment of the squadron under Commodore Porter, for the suppression of Piracy in the West Indies, and the transportation of specie, in vessels of the United States, during the years 1823 and 1824, and, also, the proceedings of the Court Martial in reference to the transactions at Fox

Mr. EATON said, he was not aware it was necessary to offer any explanation of the resolution; he merely desired to call the attention of the Committee on the Judiciary to the subject, as it was one of very great importance to the section of country where he resided. In the year 1789, five Associate Justices and one Chief Justice had been deemed necessary to discharge the judicial functions of the United States. At that period the population of the country was not greater than is the present population of the Western States, where but a single Associate Judge was now assigned. He was now incompetent to the labor; and in fact the performance of his duties had almost de-ardo. stroyed his constitution. Many complaints had been made on the subject, but every application had been refused or put off for want of time or inclination to meet and act upon it. He said there was much business in the country which necessarily came into the United States' Courts, and in which, if any error existed, there was no mean of correction by appeal to the Supreme Court. The People of the West were not satisfied with the kind of justice which had been extended to them. They had repeatedly applied for some amelioration. He hoped, therefore, that the Judiciary Committee would give to the subject the earliest attention. The Western country had not had fair dealing on the subject, and, until they should be placed on the same footing with the other States of this Union, as respected their Judiciary, they would never cease to complain, and to ask redress.

The resolution was then agreed to. The Senate then proceeded to the consideration of the following resolutions, submitted by Mr. HOLMES :

Rezolved, That the Committee on Finance be instructed to inquire into the expediency of regulating the duties on certain goods, so far as to prevent the illegal introduction of such goods from Provinces or Territories adjacent to the United States.

Resolved, That the Committee on Finance be instructed to inquire into the expediency of revising and altering the several laws relating to the coasting trade.

Resolved, That the Committee on Finance be instructed to inquire into the expediency of altering the law relative to the seizure and forfeiture, so far as respects small parcels or packages, of goods illegally brought into the United

States.

Mr. HOLMES observed, that, last year, separate bills passed the Senate on the subjects of the two latter resolutions, but were not acted on by the other House. The act which we passed in 1790 or 1792, regulating the coasting trade, only related to the Atlantic coast, and the waters on that coast. This act was altered in 1820, but no provision | was made to regulate the trade on the interior waters. The end proposed by the bill relating to seizures and forfeitures, was, to provide for a more expeditious mode of sizure and forfeiture of goods illegally imported in small parcels, and thus lessen the expenses of adjudication.

Mr. FINDLAY said, he was not so conversant with the bject as the honorable mover, but it appeared to him that one, if not two, of the resolutions ought to be referred to the Committee on Commerce-if they were to be referred to the Committee on Finance, on the ground that any regulations in the coasting trade would affect the Finances, then almost every subject coming before the Senate ought to come before the Committee on Finance-it would be difficult to make any regulation in commerce but would affeet finance.

Mr. LLOYD, of Massachusetts, said, the general reason

Mr. LLOYD observed, that the first part of the resolu tion-that relating to the proceedings of the Court of Inquiry-had been offered at the solicitation of Commodore Porter himself. The second part of the resolution, Mr. L. said, he had added because the proceedings of the Court Martial had been printed, by order of the Navy Department, for the use of the Members of Congress, and were now ready for distribution; and, as there could be no objection to receiving them, he had thought it as well to make the call for them while requiring the proceedings on the first named subject.

The resolution was then agreed to.

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, 1825.

The Senate proceeded to consider the resolution submitted yesterday by Mr. JOHNSTON, of Louisiana, on the subject of the Judiciary.

Mr. JOHNSTON said, that the resolution he had submitted required no illustration. The subject was familiar to the Senate, and especially to the Committee to whom it was proposed to be referred. It had been repeatedly pressed upon Congress; and, at the past session, it had been deferred, under the assurance, that, at the present, something definitive should be done. Mr. J. said, that, when this subject was thrown open, so many different views were taken; so many projects for the reorganization of the Courts were presented; such diversity of opinion prevailed, that every scheme successively failed. The new States, aware of the difficulty of perfecting, in any short time, any new system of reconciling public opinion to it, as well as the time necessary to arrange all the details of an extensive and complicated plan, had now to ask of Congress to extend to them at once the benefits of Circuit Courts; and, at the same time, to remedy all the inconveniences from the defective arrangements of these Courts, as well as the laws regulating the jurisdiction and the mode of proceeding. Mr. Johnston said, the first part of the resolution related to the Supreme Court, and, unless some amendment could be obtained in its terms, it would be useless to ask an extension of the Circuit Courts. He said, he presumed that, at every term, 70 or 80 causes were left undecided; and that, at this time, more than twice that number were on the docket, and that that Court could not, in the short space allotted to them, determine half those causes. The effect was, that no judgment could be had in the Court of last resort under two years, and sometimes three; that the Court could not now keep pace with the progress of business, and the docket would constantly augment; that a great mass had already accumulated, involving constitutional construction, property to an immense amount, and principles of great interest. Such a distribution of the Circuit Courts must be made, as will afford a longer session to the Supreme Court, and, even then, it is feared that some time will elapse before they

SENATE.]

On the Judiciary-Amendment to the Constitution.

[DEC. 15, 1825.

will discharge the accumulated business. He said, the es-nience or expense. That justice was uniformly and imtablishment of Circuit Courts was required by nine States, the state of the country imperiously demanded that the system should be equal and general, and he hoped it would be no longer delayed, under the idea that some other system would be adopted. He concurred with all those States in asking this now at the hands of Congress. We shall then be upon an equality, and prepared to discuss any new project that may be submitted."

partially administered. It was now known that the distrust and jealousy of the States was without foundation. That, in fine, there was no necessity for a Court to decide causes between citizens of different States. The Courts of the United States had unlimited jurisdiction over a great extent of country, and was often used oppressively. Citizens of States are often sued at the distance of two hundred miles from the seat of justice; they are inconvenientMr. J. then went at length into the inconvenience ly carried to a great distance, with an expense which they which had resulted from the expression of the Judiciary cannot afford, deprived of the means of defence, and react of 1789, prescribing to the Courts of the United States moved from their witnesses; and what is gained by the the mode of proceeding. He said the mode of proceed- other party? The cause is tried by the same laws-by ing, in the several States, at the date of the act, had been a Judge and Jury, resident in the same State. He submitprescribed. The consequence was, that the States ad-ted to the Committee whether it would not be advisable to mitted since had no law on the subject. He said, it was limit the jurisdiction; and, he said, as it was an onerous submitted to the gentlemen representing the old States, and odious jurisdiction, it ought to be restrained to the to be governed by that law still; but it deprived those immediate parties to the contract, even in commercial States of all improvement which might have been made cases. Mr. Johnston said, he had only taken a desultory since in their legislation, especially with regard to Execu- view of the subject, merely to point out these objects to tive laws. It destroyed the conformity which ought to the attention of the Committee, and to ask of them at once exist in the rules and practice in all the Courts administer to extend the Circuit Courts over all the States, and to ing justice, within the same limits, upon the same con- make some reformation in the Judiciary act. tracts. It created some confusion and some inequality, by The resolution was agreed to. prescribing different measures of justice to different parties; besides, almost every State had found it necessary to adapt her laws to the peculiar circumstances of the country, and sometimes to alter them under the pressure of events which the State thought justified their interposition.

AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION. The Senate proceeded to consider the following resolution, submitted yesterday by Mr. BENTON:

Resolved, That a Select Committee be appointed, with instructions to inquire into the expediency of amending the Constitution of the United States, so as to provide for the election of President and Vice President, by a direct vote of the People, in districts.

In regard to the States admitted into the Union since the Judiciary act, they had no law, and the Courts of the United States had undertaken, not only to prescribe rules of proceeding, but to exercise the highest act of sove- Mr. HAYNE was rejoiced to see that the gentleman reignty, by making laws to supply the defects of our legis- from Missouri had thus early called the attention of the lation-a power which Congress cannot delegate. This Senate to this important subject; but he thought he had subject was clearly explained yesterday by the honorable not made the inquiry sufficiently extensive; he had conmember from Illinois, (Mr. KANE.) Mr. J. said, that, fined it merely to the mode of election; but Mr. H. if we prescribe the laws of the several States for the go- thought an attempt ought also to be made to secure the vernment of the United States' Courts, there is still ano-election of President of the United States from the interther difficulty-those laws may violate contracts; they may be unconstitutional; and, in that event, those Courts would have no authority to enforce their judgments. The only law which they could employ, to give effect to their judgment, would be declared by themselves null and void. It must be our duty, therefore, to provide for such an occurrence by a general law applicable to such a state of things. For himself, he could only wish, that the Courts of the United States, in Louisiana, should be governed, in all cases, by the laws of the State.

vention of the House of Representatives; and he, therefore, moved to amend the resolution, by adding the following:

"And that the Committee be further instructed to inquire into the expediency of so amending the Constitution as to secure the election of President and Vice President of the United States, without the intervention of the Senate or House of Representatives."

Mr. MACON said, that it would be wise, in adopting a resolution of this kind, to give the Committee all the latiMr. J. said, that, under the present Judiciary act, a de-tude that could be given, that they might examine the subviation from the laws of all the States had been permitted, ject in every particular, and make the inquiry as broad as as unfriendly to civil liberty as it was vexatious and op- possible. He had not the same opinion of any particular pressive. It permitted the judgment creditor to take ex-mode of electing a President of the United States as he ecution in the first instance against the body of the debt-formerly had, but inclined to favor the district plan. or, to hold him in prison until the money was coerced Mr. DICKERSON said it was highly desirable that the either from him or his friends. It is arming a vindictive President and Vice President should be elected without creditor with a power over the personal liberty of the debt- the interposition of the Senate or House of Representaor-to exercise the most malignant vengeance, and at tives; but it was a question with him, whether it could be once to degrade and ruin him. He said that the law which completely effected. He did not think the Constitution permits a man to be deprived of his liberty, while he pos- could be so amended as to prevent, at some time or other, sesses property, on the futh of which the contract was and under some unforeseen contingency, the election conmade, can only be equalled in absurdity by a law which ing to the House of Representatives. If any mode had authorizes his perpetual imprisonment, because he has the been devised, it had not yet been shown to them. It was misfortune to have none. This power had been, in many hardly correct, that the members should commit theminstances, seized on and exercised in a most unfeeling man-selves on this point, thus early, on preliminary proposiner. It is believed not to be consonant with the laws of tions, and he should, therefore, vote against the resolution. any of the States, and to be unworthy our legislation. Mr. Mr. HAYNE said, the proposition merely proposed an Johnston remarked, he had merely hinted the propriety inquiry. The gentleman allowed it was expedient that it of restraining the jurisdiction of the Courts in civil cases. should be done, and, by voting for the inquiry, he would It was known that the States had competent Courts for the not in any way commit himself. The only object was, for administration of justice, conveniently situated to the par- the Committee to ascertain whether the propositions conties, to which they could resort without much inconve-tained in the two branches of the resolution could be car

DEC. 15, 1825.

On amending the Constitution.

[SENATE.

ried into effect. This was what had been done in Con- | upon Congress, or either House. His desire was, by such gress the last session. A proposition was submitted, simi- amendment, to place the Members of Congress not only far to that now submitted by the gentleman from Missouri, beyond temptation, but beyond suspicion. Till then, he but in a positive shape, not for an inquiry. It was refer- looked in vain for that harmony, concord, and affectionate red to a Committee; and a variety of propositions that feelings, which should always exist among those associated were made on the same subject, were referred to the for the same great object, of giving laws and rules of con same Committee; and if the gentleman from New Jersey duct and action to a free people. In vain he expected to should wish to submit any proposition himself, he should see a President elected by Congress hailed as the Presi be perfectly willing it should accompany this resolution to dent of the nation; and, finally, till this right was exclu one Committee. sively vested in the People, or some other agents than Congress, we should never see members voting for and against measures proposed by the Administration, without being charged with being partizans on the one hand, or opponents on the other. If we have any political principles and maxins, Mr. J. said, in which we all concur, he thought it was, or would be, admitted by all, that, whereever it was practicable, the People should be vested with the exclusive right of choosing men to rule over them. It was as practicable, in this instance, he thought, as it was to elect Representatives to Congress. And why not give the power? The gentleman from New Jersey seemed to doubt its practicability. This Mr. J. regretted very much; he thought the gentleman had given a timely caution how we committed ourselves on any one proposition, and, at the same time, expressed his conviction that the proposi tion to give the exclusive right to the people could not be realized. Mr. J. regretted this the more, when he recoldemocratic principles of the worthy member from New lected the long services, the general attainments, and the Jersey. For his part, Mr. J. said, he should pursue one undeviating course in this matter, and that would be to vest in the People at the polls the right exclusively, under all contingencies, to elect the President and Vice President of the United States; and if he could not obtain that result, he would give such votes as would more nearly bring the power to the exercise of the People, and in no event to vest the power in Congress.

Mr. BENTON said, as one taking a deep interest in the subject, he should be glad that any gentleman in the House, who had turned his attention to the subject, and could suggest any mode that promised to be beneficial, would submit his resolution, which should be referred to the same Committee with the resolution he had submitted. Whatever Committee might be charged with this subject, he should feel obliged to any gentleman that would contribute any thing that would tend to turn the attention of the Committee to it. He wished the proposition he had submitted should have an examination. Since it resolved nothing, and committed nobody, it was perfectly innocent and harmless in its present shape. As to the amendment of the gentleman from South Carolina, it only tended to enlarge the field of inquiry, and he could not object to that or any other proposition that was calculated to promote that end.

Mr. HOLMES, of Maine, said, he generally voted in favor of resolutions of inquiry on almost every subject ; but he had not much confidence in amendments of the Constitution, of any kind. He thought the time was gone by for amending the Constitution, and perhaps it was well that it was so. It was easier for them to break it ten times than it was for them to amend it once, and if they tried to mend it only in those places where they had broken it, they would have enough to occupy them for a considerable time. He should not vote for the resolution under the ex

pectation that much would be done; but he was willing that an inquiry should be made. He was not in favor of the measures of either of the gentlemen, but he should vote in favor of the amendment to the resolution, and then for the resolution as amended.

Mr. R. M. JOHNSON, of Kentucky, said, he was happy to find that the proposition to appoint a Committee embraced a specific proposition to amend the Constitution relative to the choice of a President and Vice President of the United States. The gentleman from Maine had, he feared, uttered a solemn and awful truth when he said that the time had passed for amending the Constitution, and that it could be broken with more facility than it could be amended. Mr. J. said, he should be more apprehensive of the truth of this belief, if this spirit of opposition should apply to amendments which proposed to vest the People of this country with the exercise of the great essential principles of self-government; principles upon which he conceived the prosperity, happiness, and perpetuity of our free institutions principally depended.

If, in the infancy of our Republic; if, in the first year of our political Jubilee, we discovered this opposition, what might we expect in mature age? He said our first political jubilee commenced the 4th of July last. This was the fiftieth year of our Independence. For his part, he said, he never wanted to see any friend of his called upon, as a Member of Congress, to vote for the President and Vice President of the United States; for the world was invidious, and no matter what purity Members could boast of, even if they possessed the purity of angels, their vote, in many cases, would make them obnoxious to imputations. This was one reason why he was in favor of the proposed amendment, an amendment proposing that, in no event, and in no contingency, should the duty of electing devolve VOL. II-S

and carried.
The question was taken on Mr. HAYNE'S amendment,

Mr. COBB then rose, and said that, without entering into the inquiry whether they could strike out a mode for the election of President and Vice President, without the intervention of either branch of Congress, he would offer an amendment that went to another point: its object was to instruct this same Committee to inquire into the expediency of so amending the Constitution as to prohibit the appointment of any Member of Congress to any office of honor or trust under the United States during the term for which such Senator or Representative should have been elected. If this amendment were adopted, the evil would not be so great in referring the election of President to the decision of either branch of Congress. While he had the honor of being a member of the other House, he said, he submitted a similar proposition, and though there was not a sufficient vote to carry it through, he had the consolation of knowing that the vote in favor of it was very respectable. He thought there could be no better time than the present to renew the proposition; if the Committee could not devise a mode by which the election could be effected, without the interposition of Congress, then it became the more proper to inquire whether they should not remove from those on whom the election must devolve all temptation that might bias them in that election. He would not make any observations as to the fact of how far any member of Congress might be influenced by the hope of office, in voting: but every member would see, from the fallibility of human nature, that it was almost impossi ble for men sometimes not to be influenced. Mr. C. said, he wished to cut off every thing that could tempt a man, and entirely destroy all hope of office, and all imputation whether they should vote right or wrong. Mr. C. concluded by moving an amendment to the resolution, cor responding to what he stated in his remarks; and

« 이전계속 »