between us; and if, in stating this difference, I go beyond what the occasion may be deemed to call for, I hope to find an apology in the great importance of the subject, an unfeigned respect for the high source from which this branch of it has emanated, and an anxious wish to be correctly understood by my constituents in the discharge of all my duties. Diversity of sentiment among public functionaries, actuated by the same general motives, on the character and tendency of particular measures, is an incident common to all governments, and the more to be expected in one which, like ours, owes its existence to the freedom of opinion, and must be upheld by the same influ

Controlled, as we thus are, by a higher tribunal, before which our respective acts will be canvassed with the indulgence due to the imperfections of our nature, and with that intelligence and unbiased judgment which are the true correctives of error, all that our responsibility demands is, that the public good should be the measure of our views, dictating alike their frank expression and honest maintenance.

In the message which was presented to Congress at the opening of its present session, I endeavored to exhibit briefly my views upon the important and highly-interesting subject to which our attention is now to be directed. I was desirous of presenting to the representatives of the several states, in Congress assembled, the inquiry, whether some mode could not be devised, which would reconcile the diversity of opinion concerning the powers of this government over the subject of internal improvement, and the manner in which these powers, if couferred by the constitution, ought to be exercised. The act which I am called upon to consider has therefore been passed with a knowledge of my views on this question, as these are expressed in the message referred to. In that document, the following suggestions will be found :

“ After the extinction of the public debt, it is not probable that any adjustment of the tariff, upon principles satisfactory to the people of the Union, will, until a remote period, if ever, leave the government without a considerable surplus in the treasury, beyond what may be required for its current service. As, then, the period ap

proaches when the application of the revenue to the payment of debt will cease, the disposition of the surplus will present a subject for the serious deliberation of Congress; and it may be fortunate for the country that it is yet to be decided. Considered in connection with the difficulties which have heretofore attended appropriations for purposes of internal improvement, and with those which this experience tells us will certainly arise whenever power over such subjects may be exercised by the general government, it is hoped that it may lead to the adoption of some plan which will reconcile the diversified interests of the states, and strengthen the bonds which unite them. Every member of the Union, in peace and in war, will be benefited by the improvement of inland navigation, and the construction of highways in the several states. Let us, then, endeavor to attain this benefit in a mode which will be satisfactory to all. That hitherto adopted has, by many of our fellow-citizens, been deprecated as an infraction of the constitution; while by others it has been viewed as inexpedient. All feel that it has been employed at the expense of harmony in the legislative councils." And adverting to the constitutional power of Congress to make what I consider a proper disposition of the surplus revenue, I subjoined the following remarks: “To avoid these evils, it appears to me that the most safe, just, and federal disposition which could be made of the surplus revenue, would be its apportionment among the several states according to their ratio of representation ; and should this measure not be found warranted by the constitution, that it would be expedient to propose to the states an amendment authorizing it."

The constitutional power of the federal government to construct or promote works of internal improvement, presents itself in two points of view, — the first, as bearing upon the sovereignty of the states within whose limits their execution is contemplated, if jurisdiction of the territory which they may occupy be claimed as necessary to their preservation and use; the second, as asserting the simple right to appropriate money from the national treasury in aid of such works, when undertaken by state authority, surrendering the claim of jurisdiction. In the

and can

first view, the question of power is an open one, be decided without the embarrassment attending the other, arising from the practice of the government. Although frequently and strenuously attempted, the power, to this extent, has never been exercised by the government in a single instance. It does not, in my opinion, possess it; and no bill, therefore, which admits it, can receive my official sanction.

But, in the other view of the power, the question is differently situated. The ground taken at an early period of the government was, that, whenever money has been raised by the general authority, and is to be applied to a particular measure, a question arises, whether a particular measure be within the enumerated authorities vested in Congress. If it be, the money requisite for it may be applied to it; if not, no such application can be made." The document in which this principle was first advanced is of deservedly high authority, and should be held in grateful remembrance for its immediate agency in rescuing the country from much existing abuse, and for its conservative effect upon some of the most valuable principles of the constitution. The symmetry and purity of the government would doubtless have been better preserved if this restriction of the power of appropriation could have been maintained without weakening its ability to fulfil the general objects of its institution - an effect so likely to attend its admission, notwithstanding its apparent fitness, that every subsequent administration of the government, embracing a period of thirty out of forty-two years of its existence, has adopted a more enlarged construction of the power. It is not my purpose to detain you by a minute recital of the acts which sustain this assertion, but it is proper that I should notice some of the most prominent, in order that the reflections which they suggest to my mind may be better understood.

In the administration of Mr. Jefferson, we have two examples of the exercise of the right of appropriation, which, in the considerations that led to their adoption, and in their effects upon the public mind, have had a greater agency in marking the character of the power than any subsequent events. I allude to the payment of fifteen

millions of dollars for the purchase of Louisiana, and to the original appropriation for the construction of the Cumberland road; the latter act deriving much weight from the acquiescence and approbation of the three most powerful of the original members of the confederacy, expressed through their respective legislatures. Although the circumstances of the latter case may be such as to deprive so much of it as relates to the actual construction of the road, of the force of an obligatory exposition of the constitution, it must nevertheless be admitted that so far as the mere appropriation of money is concerned, they present the principle in its most imposing aspect. No less than twenty-three different laws have been passed through all the forms of the constitution, appropriating upwards of two millions and a half dollars out of the national treasury in support of that improvement, with the approbation of every President of the United States, including my predecessor, since its commencement.

Independently of the sanction giving appropriations for the Cumberland and other roads and objects, under this power, the administration of Mr. Madison was characterized by an act which furnishes the strongest evidence of its extent. A bill was passed through both houses of Congress, and presented for his approval, “ setting apart and pledging certain funds for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of watercourses, in order to facilitate, promote, and give security to internal commerce among the several states, and to render more easy and less expensive the means and provisions for the common defence.” Regarding the bill as asserting a power in the federal government to construct roads and canals within the limits of the states in which they were made, he objected to its passage, on the ground of its unconstitutionality, declaring that the assent of the respective states, in the mode provided by the bill, could not confer the power in question ; that the only cases in which the consent and cession of particular states can extend the power of Congress, are those specified and provided for in the constitution; and superadding these avowals, his opinion that a restriction of the power “ to provide for the common defence and general welfare” to

cases which are to be provided for by the expenditure of money, would still leave within the legislative power of Congress all the great and most important measures of government, money being the ordinary and necessary means of carrying them into execution. I have not been able to consider these declarations in any other point of view than as a concession that the right of appropriation is not limited by the power to carry into effect the measure for which the money is asked, as was formerly contended.

The views of Mr. Monroe upon this subject were not left to inference. During his administration, a bill was passed through both houses of Congress, conferring the jurisdiction, and prescribing the mode by which the federal government should exercise it, in the case of the Cumberland road. He returned it, with objections to its passage, and, in assigning them, took occasion to say, that in the early stages of the government, he had inclined to the construction that it had no right to expend money except in the performance of acts authorized by the other specific grants of power, according to a strict construction of them; but that, on further reflection and observation, his mind had undergone a change; that his opinion

“that Congress have an unlimited power to raise money, and that in its appropriation they have a discretionary power, restricted by the duty to appropriate to purposes of common defence, and of general, not local; national, not state benefit;” and this was avowed to be the governing principle through the residue of his administration. The views of the last administration are of such recent date as to render a particular reference to them unnecessary.

It is well known that the appropriating power, to the utmost extent which had been claimed for it in relation to internal improvements, was fully recognized and exercised by it.

This brief reference to known facts will be sufficient to show the difficulty, if not impracticability, of bringing back the operations of the government to the construction of the constitution set up in 1798, assuming that to be its true reading, in relation to the power under consideration; thus giving an admonitory proof of the force of im

then was,

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