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anxiety about them would be very much lessened, if it was expunged ; for then it would appear, that none of the measures of the Federal Government were objected to but the alien and sedition-bills. This was not the fact; and it must also be in the recollection of many gentlemen in that House, that some of those members who were now most loud in support of the measures of which he and his friends complained, and who denied with most confidence the right of the Assembly to interfere, had themselves upon other occasions acted very differently, and justified that interference. One of the gentlemen distinguished him. self in a particular instance, for which he had his most hearty approbation, as he considered it a subject highly interesting to the happiness of his country. How gentlemen could reconcile their opinions at past periods, with those they supported at this day, it was incumbent upon them to show. Mr. Nicholas said, it was with the deepest regret that he reviewed the principal measures of the Federal Government, as they appeared to hím to tend directly to a consolidation of the state governments, which he believed would eventuate in monarchy. Upon all questions about the division of power, everything had been given to the executive from Congress, everything to Congress from the states. The general phrases in the Constitution, which were only intended to explain and limit the powers of the general government, have been considered as giving powers, thereby destroying the effect of the particular enumeration of powers, and of the security derived from the twelfth amendment to the Constitution. He would state the particular acts which he thought most obnoxious. The first in point of time were the bank and assumption laws, for which he could find no authority in the Constitution of the United States, and by which the commercial and monied interests of this country had been de. voted to certain individuals and their theories, and concentred a force more powerful and operative than an army of twenty thousand men. The British treaty and its effects were so well known to this House, that it was unnecessary to dilate upon that subject. The doctrine about appropriations of money was so important in its consequences, that it merited the most serious attention of the people of America. The Constitution declares, that “no money shall be drawn from the treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law;" notwithstanding which, it is now contended, that the President may by his single act, bind ihe Congress to make appropriations, whether they deem them proper or not, thereby transferring from the representatives of the people to the executive magistrate, the command of the national purse. The stamp-act subjects the people to an obnoxious and inconvenient tax, and changes already, and may change still more hereafter, the system of evidence which the state laws required in their
The ultimate effect of this may be to shut up the state courts; for it is even contended, that delivery bonds are subject to the tax. If this be true, other process may be taxed so highly as may amount to a denial of justice : the transferring the important power of borrowing money and raising armies, vested by the Constitution in Congress, to the President: the utter neglect of the militia: the attempt to render them useless and unnecessary, by raising standing armies, and by authorizing the President to employ any number of volunteers that he may think
proper, when the only reason for a preference of volunteers that occurred to him was, that the President had the appointment of the officers of those corps, whereas the militia officers were appointed by the state governments, greatly excited his suspicion. He confessed, his objections to these
corps had been very much increased since he had seen a letter from the Secretary of War,* from which it appeared to him that the design was to arm one part of the people against the other. He well remembered, that when the Constitution was under discussion, great stress was laid upon this circumstance; and it was believed it would give great security to the state governments, and to the liberties of the people; but so great a revolution had a few years produced, that some gentlemen were willing to abandon principles that have been heretofore deemed the most sacred. The conduct of the executive in bestowing offices, more in the style of rewards for the support of particular measures, than from any regard to the general merits of the citizens called to fill them, and upon the same ground removing from office every man who ventures to hazard an opinion in opposition to any of the measures that have been pursued, necessarily created alarm. He mentioned the removal from office of Mr.
Tenche Cose and Mr. Gardiner, in support of what he had said, and expressed a fear, that by these means that numerous and influential class of citizens, who ought to consider themselves as the public servants, might be made the creatures of executive power; and if, said Mr. Nicholas, the day should ever come that the office of President should devolve upon an ambitious man, public officers might be made the most powerful instru. ments to promote his views. The influence would operate upon all those who expect, or want public employment.
Mr. Nicholas then observed, there was another subject, which he felt the greatest pain at mentioning. Nothing but its importance and con. nexion with the subject in discussion should induce him to do it. The judiciary department of every government should be most pure; there should not be a suspicion of a previous bias upon the mind of the judge. Every man who goes into a court ought to consider himself as in a sanctuary. The utmost ingenuity of man had been exercised to form a judi. ciary that should be beyond the reach of influence. Was the conduct of the judiciary what it ought to have been? He had always supposed courts were instituted to dispense justice between man and man, between indi. viduals and the society ; but he feared that facts might be stated from which it might be inferred that it was considered by some that there were other objects, such as the propagating of particular opinions ; that there was united in the same man, the duties of a missionary and of a judge. He said this point of his argument was so disagreeable to him, that he * Extract of a letter from the Secretary of War to an officer of high rank in the militia
of Virginia, who had communicated the wish of several volunteer companies to tender their services.
“It being deemed important not to accept of companies composed of disaffected persons, who might from improper motives be desirous to intrude themselves into the army under pretence of patriotic association, it will be proper certificates from promi. nent and known characters, setting forth the principles of the associates, those of the officers elect, especially; and that the company have complied with the pre. requisite condition of the law, be also presented."
would not dwell upon it, but would dismiss it with a declaration that he felt great pleasure in saying that there were judges to whom he had never heard extra-judicial interference in political matters attributed. Mr. Nicholas observed, that thinking of the measures that he had stated as he did, he could not consent to expunge the clause. Indeed, if he did not give his full assent to what was stated in that clause, he would have been willing to confine the efforts of the House to procure the repeal of the alien and sedition-bills. But considering these as a part of a system that brought into jeopardy the dearest interests of his country, he thought it was their duty to represent to the other states the whole ground of the public uneasiness. As to the alien and sedition-laws, he had intended at an earlier part of the debate to have made some observations, but other gentlemen on the same side with himself, had expressed his opinions better than he could have done. He would therefore only say that he considered them as unconstitutional, and that if the principle was once established that Congress have a right to make such laws, the tenure by which we hold our liberty would be entirely subverted. Instead of rights independent of human control, we must be content to hold by the courtesy and forbearance of those whom we have heretofore considered as the servants of the people. Mr. Nicholas said he had been a member of the convention that adopted the Constitution ; that he had been uniformly a friend to it; that he considered himself as now acting in support of it; that he knew it was the artifice of those on the other side to endeavour to at. tach a suspicion of hostility to the government to those who differed with them in opinion. For his part, he despised such insinuations, as far as they might be levelled at him. He appealed to his past life, and to his situation for his justification. Upon what gentlemen's claim to exclusive patriotism was founded, he was yet to learn. The friends of the resolutions yielded to none in disinterested attachment to their country, to the Constitution of the United States, to union, and to liberty. The conduct and the motives of all would be judged of by the people of this country, to whom they were all known. Mr. Nicholas had full confidence that the amendment would be rejected, and the resolutions without further alteration, would meet the approbation of a great majority of that House.
General Les said, that he wished to refute the observations of the gentleman last up, in favour of retaining the clause. (He was proceeding to do so, when he was interrupted by Mr. Nicholas, who observed that the gentleman had misunderstood him, and then declared in substance what he had before actually said.)
After such explanation, General Lee proceeded to justify the measures of the General Government in respect to the removal of persons from office. As to Mr. Coxe, as far as he could recollect the circumstances of his conduct, he thought his removal proper. And as to Mr. Gardiner, he confessed it was a case with which he was quite unacquainted. In respect to the judiciary being forward în delivering their opinions on public measures, he would observe that the state judges had done, and still did the same. He blamed them not for it. For the appointment of men as judges did not deprive them of their rights as citizens. But nothing of this kind,
he said, would prove the propriety of the clause proposed to be stricken out.
General Lee then observed, that he considered the argument of the gen. tleman from Amelia, in respect to the connexion between the alien-law, and the law concerning volunteers, weak. For his army of aliens being soldiers by compulsion, would turn against the President, instead of assist. ing him. The gentleman, too, had called in question the ends which the government had in view in raising an army and navy. General Lee proceeded to answer the objections upon that head, by pointing out those ends. As to the alien and sedition-laws, he contended that the only real view in passing them, was to protect us from foreign invasion. He denied that there was an inclination in the General Government to crush a party. The construction placed by the gentleman from Amelia, upon the President's answer to the address of the people of Bath was erroneous. Gene. ral Lee then read part of that answer, and placed a different construction upon the expressions which it contained. He conceived the President's meaning only to be, that it depended upon Virginia to say whether or not there was a party in the United States to be crushed, &c.; not positively asserting on his part, that there was such a party.
General Lee then observed, that if the people could govern themselves, how could that be done but by obedience to the laws? Their freedom could not be preserved by any other mode. For if the principle of obey. ing the will of the majority was once destroyed, it would prostrate all free government. But the gentleman from Amelia had considered himself as one of the party to be crushed, alluded to by the President. He (General Lee) was surprised at such an idea. That gentleman had committed no crime. He had for some time before, been honoured with a seat in Con. gress. And there, although he had generally been in a minority, yet it was nothing more than the situation in which he (General Lee) had often been placed here. In neither was there any criminality. A difference, it was true, did exist between these cases; and he derived consolation from reflecting, that though he himself was in a minority here, he was still in a majority with that body which properly had the determination of national matters. He concluded with hoping that the amendment would prevail.
Mr. Tyler arose next, and said that an able general would fight and struggle to the last. When driven from one stronghold, he would retreat to another; and finding himself no longer able to oppose superior num. bers, he would attempt to divide his enemy. Mr. Tyler believed the plan on the present occasion, was to divide the republican members, but he hoped the gentleman's plan would not succeed; and that the clause would be retained. He thought it contained solemn truths. He doubted not but that many of the measures of the General Government had a tendency to monarchy, absolute or limited. These measures had been pointed out by the gentleman from Albemarle. He would however state them over again. Mr. Tyler did so. He particularly relied on the growing influence of the executive, and the probability of an alliance with a corrupt monarchy, and an open rupture with a republic, which he said had been openly advocated by gentlemen of high character. He inquired what had
been the effects of executive influence in Great Britain ? He said, that by the revolution of 1688, and by several statutes of Parliament passed about that time, many of the great rights of the people, and the principles of freedom had been established; but that it might, at this time, be well doubted if the people were more free than they were before the revolu. tion. This was to be ascribed to the immense influence of the crown, which had three millions at disposal. He demanded what other cause had prevented a reform in Parliament, upwards of three hundred of whose members were chosen by a fewer number of electors. He asked if there was not some similitude between the systems pursued by our administra. tion, and that of Great Britain ? He said that the people of Great Britain were clamorous for peace, and Lord Malmesbury was sent to make peace; but he returned, and made no peace. He would not follow the compari
Our fears, he said, had been assailed. He inquired whom were we to fear? He feared no man, and no measure, but that of offending the people; and he believed that the people were never offended at any effort to maintain their rights, or to protect their liberties. The gentleman from Westmoreland had said, that the gentleman from Amelia could not consider himself as one of the party to be crushed, and had asked what crime that gentleman had committed. Mr. Tyler said, that the gentleman from Amelia had committed a crime; the crime of differing in opinion with the administrators of the government. This was the crime that had incarcerated Mr. Lyon. He asked what prospect have we of a change of these measures, which he viewed as the harbingers, the forerunners of monarchý, either limited or absolute. Were we not told that they must have more men, and a little more money; augment our standing army, and increase our navy; and force the construction of the Constitution to warrant alien and sedition-bills? Mr. Tyler concluded by hoping that the clause would be retained. He believed it contained the truth, and was very important; and thought that the people of Virginia called for some such measure.
Mr. John Taylor's resolutions, as amended, agreed to by the Committee, and reported to the House (ante, p. 149–50), being read the second time, a motion was made, and the question being put, to amend the same by expunging from them the fourth clause in the following words:
“That the General Assembly doth also express its deep regret, that a spirit has in sundry instances been manifested by the Federal Government to enlarge its powers by forced constructions of the constitutional charter which defines them; and that indications have appeared of a design to expound certain general phrases (which having been copied from the very limited grant of powers in the former articles of confederation, were the less liable to be misconstrued) so as to destroy the meaning and effect of the particular enumeration, which necessarily explains and limits the general phrases, and so as to consolidate the states, by degrees, into one sovereignty, the obvious tendency and inevitable result of which would be to transform the present republican system of the United States into an absolute, or at best a mixed monarchy."
It passed in the negative, ayes 68-noes 96.