« ForrigeFortsett »
to regulate and dispose of its own territory, according to the suggestions of the wisdom of Congress; the second embraces a similar power over all other national property, and consequently over the surplus revenue to be found at any time within the public Treasury. The obligation, as well as the power, of rendering productive such portion of the revenue as the public exigencies do not require, and as cannot without considerable loss be applied to the redemption of the public debts before they are due, is clearly deducible from this clause of the Constitution. This surplus must otherwise lie idle in the pubic Treasury; a Treasury which, in fact, exists in contemplation of law. It must remain in the hands of collectors and the public officers, or be deposited in the vaults of some bank, and, in both cases, be exposed to all the hazard, without retaining the profit, of a loan. Can it be questioned that such portion of the public money may be constitutionally applied to the purchase of the stock of a canal or turnpike company, as it had already been to the stock of a bank, under such rules and regulations as Congress may prescribe 7 I do not contend, in virtue of this clause, for the power to establish a banking or any other chartered company; but for the simple authority to invest, by exchange, or sale, one species of property into another, for the public benefit. #. imposition or continuance of public taxes, with a view to such an object, be deemed a measure of doubtful right or expediency, no such doubt can arise, as to such an application of the sum now proposed to be appropriated, or of the proceeds of the sales of public land, to which this section of the Constitution directly applies. Although, under no Constitutional obligation to look beyond the profit which might attend any such application of the public money, Congress might, and undoubtedly would, blend with that consideration other objects of general advantage. As individual subscribers to the stock of all canal and turnpike companies usually extend their views, even in pursuit of profit, beyond the expected dividends upon their stock, to the beneficial end of its application; so the Government may often confidently anticipate a benefit, far surpassing in value any pecuniary profit on its stocks, from the success of a public work of general utility. In all such acquisitions of stock, it will regard, the convenience and safety of the nation, and if the former has a price, the latter unquestionably has none. This mode of applying the public money, to the structure of roads and canals, is liable to none of the objections urged by one of my colleagues (Mr. Smyth) to the expediency of passing the resolutions before the Committee. . Indeed, when the general purport of the resolutions is considered, these objections must appear to himself premature, since they apply rather to the details of a system anticipated by him, than to the resolutions themselves, which merely pro
pose to constitute a fund for internal improveinent. My colleague cannot deny the possibility of forming a system which shall combine individual sagacity, enterprise, and skill, with the national wealth, for the attainment of the far greater part, if not all the objects, upon which this power of appropriation would be exerted. He has not only beheld, but recently co-operated in the execution of such a system, in the State which we both represent. The characteristic feature of that system is, that to every public work, deemed by the legislature worthy of their patronage, and to which three-fifths of the stock necessary to complete it shall have been previously subscribed by private individuals, the State subscribes the remaining two-fifths, with a proviso that the total profit of the stock shall exclusively belong to the individual subscribers, until they shall have received legal interest upon all the sums which they may have advanced; after which the State participates with them in the dividends of the common stock. The subscription of the State operates as a moderate insurance against loss to private adventurers, who are expected to be attracted to all such enterprises, principally by the hope of gain; and is thus calculated to elicit the subscription of individual wealth to public use. While the State regards herself as amply remunerated for a temporary suspension of the interest on her share of the common stock, by the accomplishment of a public work, calculated to replace this interest at some future period, and to augment, in the interim, her wealth and population. This system is not more susceptible of application to the circumstances of a single State, than of the United States. It would only be necessary, in order to extend the scale, to extend also the means of its application. I would reluctantly appropriate any part of the public revenue to roads or canals, without that security for their judicious, faithful, and economical completion, which would be afforded by associating, in their original structure and subsequent preservation and repair, the cautious sagacity, persevering industry, and unceasing vigilance, of private interest; although I am not prepared to say that there are no works of this description to which I would not subscribe, from the public Treasury, a larger proportion than two-fifths of the stock necessary for their completion ; or that there may not be some connected with the common defence, which would be cheaply provided for, at the sole cost of the Union. Two of my honorable colleagues, (Messrs. Smyth and BARBour,) to whose arguments I have so often referred, sought to discourage the smaller States from yielding their support to the resolutions before us, by suggesting that, under any equitable distribution of the fund, which it is proposed to set apart for internal improvement, but a very inconsiderable allotment would fall to their share; while the other significantly asked, “if Massachusetts would give five millions of dollars to New York or Virginia?”
Sir, the question whether Congress have the Constitutional power so to apply the public money, ought not to be decided by such considerations, its decision may, indeed, but its truth cannot be affected, in the remotest degree, by the manner in which the power that we seek to sustain, may be hereafter exercised. If the smaller States will receive but little, they require less than those of larger dimensions; and it should satisfy their justice, that what they receive will be in the exact proportion of what they contribute to the common fund. The first suggestion of my colleague reduces the fund to the least sum proposed; the last swells it to millions. I acknowledge that I most earnestly wish to see it augmented to an extent, much beyond the appropriation contemplated by the resolutions on our table... And when a proper occasion shall offer, I will submit a resolution which I hold in my hand, to enlarge it by adding the proceeds of sale of all the lands ceded to the Government of the United States by the Commonwealth of Virginia. . The propriety of thus enlarging the proposed fund has been suggested to me, as well by the general policy of such an augmentation, as by the express terms of the Virginia act of cession, to which the United States were a party. There is, in this compact, a reservation of “all ‘the ceded territory, as a common fund for the use and benefit of the several States, including Virginia, according to their respective propor‘tions in the general charge and expenditures set ‘forth in the Articles of Confederation,” which would be found, on comparison, too orrespond very nearly with that ratio of distribution, provided by the act of the last Congress creating a fund for internal improvement, to which the late President refused his assent. The compact solemnly subjoins to this reseryation, that “this fund shall be faithfully and bona fide disposed of for the purpose set forth, and for no other purpose whatever.” The maxims of good faith, and a positive provision of the Fedj Constitution, . upon Congress the fulfilment of this stipulation; and no mode of giving effect to it would better accord with its letter and spirit, than a distribution of the fund among the several States, for the purposes proposed by the resolutions. The sentiment, I know, Mr. Chairman, exists, and I regret that it does, that, if a fund be provided for internal improvement, it will be misapplied, to gratify local and sectional interests. An effectual security against such an abuse of power, would be .."; a distribution of its annual revenue, in conformity with the proviso of the Virginia compact; and if the fund should be augmented to the extent which I have just proposed, such a division of it would not destroy its efficacy. It cannot be believed that there exists a single State in this Union, in which such a fund would not be required, or could not be judiciously applied. No part of America has yet reached a degree of improvement, which leaves its internal intercourse without a demand for an additional road or canal.
Although all the States, or even a majority of them, might not combine in devoting their respective shares of such a fund to one common object, yet some of them occasionally would, so as to obviate, in part, the chief inconvenience resulting from distribution. Is it too much to suppose, that there exists throughout the United States a patriotism which would exult at the accomplishment of a connexion of the Lakes with the Hudson, by the means of the useful and noble work which New York has just commenced, or of that scarcely less important, though much less expensive connexion between the waters of the Ohio and the Chesapeake, which Virginia has so long contemplated 3 To the smaller States, who are said to have least concern in the decision of this question, every new cement of an Union, essential, indeed, to the future prosperity and happiness of all its members, must be peculiarly interesting, since in i. calamity, which might destroy this great bulwark of our common safety, they would be the greatest sufferers. With regard to the general character of that power which we are now, I trust, about to exert, it must be universally acknowledged, that what. ever tends to facilitate the necessary intercourse between the remote extremities and the common centre of so vast an empire, has the same propitious effect, as would result, were it otherwise practicable, from contracting the extent of its territory, without reducing its population, impairing its wealth, or narrowing its resources. To the friends of American liberty, who justly regard the State governments as essential parts of a Republican system erected on a scale so extended as to constitute a cause of alarm, or who, with equal truth, consider our union as the bond alike of our independence and freedom, every measure which has the effect of diminishing the extent of the one, or of multiplying and strengthning the ties of the other, must be viewed with anxious solicitude. For Virginia, so unhappily divided on this question, it should be enough to silence her objections, that, situated midway between the colonies of England and Spain, she constitutes the key of that expanded arch, which, stretching from North to South, binds the whole East in union, and sustains, upon its broad and lofty summit, our Western Empire. Representing a district adjacent to the seat of the Government, I have personally, or in behalf of my immediate constituents, less interest in the decision of this question, than those gentlemen who come from the remote sections of the Union; but who can be insensible to the great purpose which should constantly animate all our labors; the preservation and improvement of that noble fabric of Government, under which it is alike our happiness and our glory to live 3 Mr. Baldwin followed on the same side, and spoke about three quarters of an hour in support of the resolutions. - Mr. Tucker, of Virginia, said, that he felt him. self imperiously called upon to submit to the
Committee his views on the Constitutional question involved in the resolutions under consideration. In opening this subject to the Committee, he had purposely avoided the discussion of the Constitutional point, as the report had submitted the views of the select committee, and a farther disquisition from him would have only led to uninteresting recapitulations of what had already been advanced. He had, therefore, determined patiently to wait till the opponents of the resolutions had developed their arguments, and then to ask the indulgence of the Committee. He did not wish to shrink from the duty which had fallen to his lot. He did not wish to be chargeable with (what could not fail to grate upon the feelings of any honorable man) quietly standing by, and permitting others to fight his battles. Yet, so powerful and overwhelming had been the remarks of the honorable gentleman from South Carolina, (Mr. Lowndes,) that he had been disposed to leave the question to the decision of the Committee, upon the unanswerable argument of that gentleman. His friend from Virginia, (Mr. H. Nelson,) had, however, by the character of his observations, compelled him to relinquish this desirable retirement from the contest. In the conclusion of his remarks, he had said, that he felt himself called on to pay some attention “to this report from the pen of his colleague.” Whilst I tender to the o: my thanks for his attentions, I cannot but regret the unfortunate preeminence which has, on this occasion, entitled me to receive them. I have before said, and still feel, that the duty imposed upon me is too weighty for my feeble strength, but, however nerveless my arm, Ishall not hesitate to defend myself from the attack which has been made upon me. Sir, the gentleman from Virginia has done me too much honor in associating me with those two able men, (the gentleman from South Carolina and the honorable Speaker,) in the modern triumvirate of which he has spoken. He has called us the triumvers of the times, and thus seems to compare us with the detested triumvirate of the Roman people. We are, doubtless, under great obligations to the gentleman for those high honors, which he so liberally bestows. It remains for us only to divide among ourselves this glorious spoil—to appropriate to each the character which belongs to him. In this partition, the great and commanding talents of my friends leaves to me the best title to the least obnoxious character. The fool Lepidus is not as detestable as the knawish Anthony, or the ambitious Caesar. But, sir, while the gentleman is so profuse in his compliments to us, he tells us of himself, that he is battling for the rights of the States, in this last struggle with the Federal Government. It is in this last of their fields that the liberties of the States are to be cloven down, and the Federal Government is to triumph over them. It is in this last field, that the gentleman represents himself as fighting their battles, with an almost desperate resolution. He is to be entitled, doubtless, to the distinguished appellation of the last of the
of a triumvirate. If impassioned zeal and great ability, in this great cause, can give to him so enviable a title, it must be awarded to the gentleman. He never “bore himself better” in his days. I always hear him with pleasure—I always confess his powers—but, on this occasion he has surpassed any former exertion. How unfortunate that this zeal was not as uniform as it was warm; and that, on former occasions, the same heroic prowess had not been manifested in defence of the rights of the States The gentleman told us the other day, that the nation would be in sackcloth and ashes, if this proposition should be successful. To-day he tells us, that he retracts the remark. He now hopes that the nation will arise in its strength, and put down those who advocate these resolutions. #. no longer wishes the groans of the nation to be heard ; he hopes for their reprobation. For these g. I presume he would substitute their hisses. ir, there is no man who can feel more sensibly than myself the disapprobation of those who have favored me with their confidence. The distinguished honor I have twice received from them, without solicitation, cannot fail to render me peculiarly solicitous to merit a continuance of their good opinion. But as, on this occasion, I am not only left (from the absence of all instructions) to follow the dictates of my conscience, but am bound by my oath to construe this Constitution according to my judgment, I cannot apprehend their censure in following my convictions. They know well, that the first and most importantorequisite in a Representative is independence of mind; and I trust I shall never cease to evince to them that I am not destitute of this qualification. But, sir, whilst I cannot be insensible to the disapprobation of the wise and good, I beg leave to assure that gentleman, that retirement has no terrors for me. A seat in this House is not so highly prized, as to induce me to surrender the honest convictions of my judgment to preserve it. Nor am I more alarmed at the intimation of the gentleman, that the report of the committee conveys a censure of the Executive. I appeal to the candor of any man, who will peruse that paper, whether any of its pages contain an expression that can be tortured into such a construction. None such was intended. But why, he asks, this discrimination ? Why has no similar objection been made to former messages? I am not responsible as to them—but the reason for a discrimination seems manifest. A former Congress has actually passed a bill imbodying the principles of these resolutions. A former Executive rejected this bill. When, therefore, there existed a fair presumption, that the popular branch might again act upon the subject, when the Executive intimates the futility of such an attempt—and when the committee were desirous of pressing upon the consideration of the House the importance and propriety of renewing the effort, it became unavoidable to meet and remove the objection then intimated by the President
Greeks, whilst he yields to us the bad eminence
In doing this, the course which has been pursued
is believed to have been respectful and decorouswhilst it did not compromit the dignity of this House. The gentleman, sir, has accused his adversaries of inconsistency. He complains, that we are deserting the great principles of the Republicans in 1798, and subverting the acknowledged rights of the States, by a construction too latitudinous. Not content with a single intimation of this charge, he has made it the commencement and the conclusion of his address. He speaks of the “great battle fought” in the early times of the Constitution, when the champions of the States were Mr. Madison, the late President of the United States, and Mr. Gallatin—“not the Lord Chatham of the ministry, but the Mr. Pitt of the Commons House.” And on what great occasion did this celebrated conflict take place? It was on the bank bill ! On the question of the establishment of the first bank of the United States, which was vehemently o: by those two great men, arose, as he tells us, the great division of parties in relation to the rights of the States and the Federal Government. It was then that the strict construction of the Constitution was contended for, and those principles established, in relation to its interpretation, the correctness of which is not now contested, though their application is the subject of litigation. Bearing, then, in our minds this fact, that the bank question was that to which the gentleman refers, as having tried the rights of the States, let us see how far the gentleman himself is entitled to the applause of consistency, in the uniform defence of his beloved State rights. Sir, I shall press this matter upon the gentleman with no unfriendly feeling. I shall put it to him in the same good-humored spirit which animated him in his attempt to furnish evidence of inconsistency against my friend from South Carolina. I know the gentleman’s constitutional good humor too well, and have too long experienced his friendly dispositions towards myself, to suppose, that his remarks, in relation to me, were intended, even in the warmth of his zeal, to injure my feelings. I shall, therefore maintain the same dispositions towards himself. But, before I come down to the period in which the gentleman was a conspicuous actor, I beg leave to advert to a few facts in relation to the bank. A few years before the expiration of its charter, its renewal was proposed; and Mr. Gallatin, then at the head of the Treasury, who had opposed its passage, recommended its continuance. But the gentleman tells us he was no more Mr. Gallatin of 1791, than “the Lord Chatham of the ministry was the Mr. Pitt of the Parliament House.” But he was not destined long to remain alone in this change of his opinions. In a few years, the old bank charter having expired, the subject was again revived. The hostile cloud that had lowered in the horizon so long, broke upon us at length, and during the war a new bank bill was proposed and passed both Houses of Congress. When submitted to Mr. Madison, who has been justly styled the Champion of State Rights, he rejected it, not because it was unconstitutional, but because he
did not regard its provisions as expedient and salutary. The Constitutional question he declared to be settled, by the acquiescence and approbation of the nation, and with a magnanimity and modesty peculiar to great minds, he yielded to the precedent which had been so decisively sanctioned. And where was the gentleman then? In this second assault upon State rights, where was the reat defender of the state.” He was then in ongress. Where then was his zeal which has, on this occasion, blazed forth with such conspicuous brightness 7 . Unfortunately for the States, it was in dim eclipse. He, too, voted for this bank bill—for the very principle on which “the first great battle, in jáš. to State rights, had been fought.” I know that the gentleman considers that vote as justified by the situation of the country. We were at war—in danger of subjugation—it was better to break this "sacred Constitution” than to be reduced again to colonial servitude. But will not the same Prio justify the appointment of a dictator 7 And does the gentleman seriously believe, that it is better to construe this Constitution with so much rigor as to compel us to tear it in pieces during war, than to give it that fair and practical construction which will fit the necessities and wants of the nation at all times 2 Is it better to compel the Government, in time of war, to resort to the necessity which is above all right, or, by rational interpretation, to acknowledge a Constitutional necessity which can give right?
But this bank bill was rejected. The cloud of war was dispersed; the halcyon days of peace returned, and the tyrannous necessity of war was at an end. Another bank bill, in a time of profound peace, was proposed and passed by Conress, and received the signature of Mr. Madison. here was the gentleman then? He was in Congress | Where then was his zeal? On the passage of the bill to a third reading he was unfortunately absent. He had no opportunity of distinguishing himself by his chivalry on that occasion. But, his good stars prevailed, and, on a motion to postpone the bill indefinitely, he was fortunately in the House, Here was a fair opportunity, in time of profound peace, and on the great question which had agitated parties in 1791, to recur to his principles, and put an end to the bill—and how then did he vote 7 He was not content even to be silent. He voted against the postponement, which was a vote decisively in favor of the bill. The gentleman now admits he was in favor of it. Sir, I have heard an old statesman laughing! observe, that no man, who had been in public life five years, ought to be held to show, that he had been entirely consistent in his opinions. Five years, it seems, is a good bar to a charge of inconsistency. Perhaps it is under this novel statute of limitations, that the gentleman, who has lon been in public life, may be considered as protected, while I, unfortunately, cannot repel his charge by
a similar plea, as this is only the third year of my service. Sir, I do not mean, by these remarks, to intimate anything improper in the course pursued by the gentleman, on the question of the Bank of the United States. On the contrary, I am persuaded of the purity of his motives, as well as of the then Chief Magistrate's, and, having voted for the bank bill myself, cannot materially dissent from them in my views of that important measure. But, when a gentleman, so able and so zealous in the maintenance of his opinion, pursues a course so utterly inconsistent with them some indulgence may reasonably be expected from him for the supposed errors and inconsistencies of others. It is not for men whose path has not been direct and uniform, to charge upon others, so fiercely, their alleged deviations. It is not for them to call down upon their adversaries the censures of the nation, for fancied desertion of the principles of the Constitution. In the construction of this Constitution, there is not, there cannot be, a system of orthodoxy. Agreeing, as we do, in principle, there must always be a variety in the application. The in: strument, conferring upon us incidental, as well as express powers, there must always be great differences of opinion, as to the “direct relationship,” and “real necessity”, of the accessary powers. Nothing can better illustrate it than the various shades of opinion on the question before us. Nor are the opponents of the resolution more consistent with each other than we are. Three gentlemen from Virginia, who have particularly distinguished themselves in opposition, all differ in essentials. The first gentleman who spoke (Mr. SMyth) admits, I conceive, all that I ask, in saying, that the revenues of the United States may be subscribed in stock to road and canal companies, “as a fiscal operation.” But, neither of the other gentlemen will yield their assent to this position. The same gentleman contends that, as accessary of military operations, the executive and military authority may make military roads in time of war, but the legislative body cannot authorize them. His colleagues disagree with him. On the other hand, another of these gentlemen (Mr. BARbour) admits “the right of way,” as accessary to the power to establish post roads; but his oil. (Mr. Nelson) denies it. This last, in his turn, justifies the construction of the Cumberland road, which his friend (Mr. BARBour) utterly disclaims. Sir, with these things before your eyes, who shall pretend to say what is orthodoxy—what is heterodoxy 7 It is impossible. It remains for us to act according to our consciences, without attempting a conformity to any particular sect or persuasion. I should not have troubled the Committee with these remarks, but for the course of my colleague's observations. He has endeavored to excite alarm and apprehension. At what? What is this dangerous measure that has so much excited him? The improvement of the country | In what manner 3 is it contemplated by any gentleman to enter the States by force—to make
roads without their assent—to destroy the property of individuals, and to prostrate private and State rights? . By no means. . It is contemplated to do that which has already been done, without injury to any one, and to the universal satisfaction of the nation. It is contemplated, either to subscribe for stock, in companies incorporated by the States; or, as has already been done in relation to the Cumberland road, to procure the assent of the States to the construction of public roads of great national advantage, and to acquire from individuals the right of using their property for the purpose. This is the utmost that the friends of this proposition contemplate or intimate. Let it not, then, be said that the rights of the States are to be infringed, since their assent is to be obtained ; let it not be said that private property is to be sacrificed, since it is only to be affected by their own consent, or under such State regulations as are common in relation to turnpike roads. No proposition can be more harmless—none can be more beneficial. With this view of the plan in contemplation, let us proceed to consider upon what principles this Constitution should be construed. Shall we give it, what is called by a gentleman, a liberal construction, extending infinitely the powers of the Federal Government 7 Or shall we construe it with a strictness and rigor that will disrobe us of all the means necessary for carrying on the Government 3 Neither In construing this instrument, I will not, on the one hand, extend its provisions too far; nor will I, like the gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. H. NElson,) who has denied the right of way, which even his rigorous colleague had admitted, act the part of a miser, who, in paying away a farthing, examines it with scrutinizing care lest it should turn out to be a penny. The inevitable effect of such a construction of the instrument will be, that the Government must either fail of its great objects, or that it will be habitually broken whenever the pressure of events shall seem to require. It is better to give to it a plain, practical construction, that shall suit the necessities of the nation, in peace or in war, than to attempt a rigorous adherence to the letter, which will compel innumerable infractions. Thus, to the nation, it would be less oppressive to admit, at all times, the right to make necessary military roads, with the assent of all parties concerned, than to resort, in time of war, to a necessity above right, and subversive of the Constitution, to make roads, ad libitum, without the consent of anybody. Sir, the construers of this Constitution may not inaptly be compared to the dramatis persona of the }. of a Tub. Peter, John, and Martin, represent the three sects of political interpreters. I have been solicitous to preserve the golden mean which is always so desirable. I profess to be of the good old Protestant persuasion of brother Martin. There are some gentlemen who, like Peter, are for adding shoulder-knots and lace to the coat, until you will scarcely know it again. There are others who, in the eagerness to remove what is obnoxious, in tearing off the lace, pull off