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above reason, the selection of men best calculated to represent them in important political stations. If public men are distinguished by the ascendency of their talents, the elevation of their characters, or by disinterested devotion to their country, my life upon it, these exalted qualities will neither escape the attention of the people, nor fail to make the appropriate, corresponding impression. They have no selfish purposes, no ambitious aspirations, no secret and sinister designs, to prevent or pervert the free and impartial exercise of their judgments. It is, in the nature of things, impossible that they should have. All their feelings are essentially patriotic. They rejoice only in the glory and prosperity of the republic, and are proud of the opportunity of elevating to power, those who are best qualified to promote these great ends. Sir, the glory and prosperity of the country is their glory and prosperity; and what other possible object can they have, in electing a President 2 After all, the quality most essential in the election of that great officer, wielding, as he does, the vast patronage of a great and growing country, is an honest purpose. This you will always find with the people; but man is not man, if you always find it any where else. But, sir, there is another ground which distinguishes the election of a President by this House, from an act of legislation; and shows that the obligation which the popular will imposes upon the representative, should be much stronger in the former case than in the latter. In the ordinary case of legislation, we are, in most instances, called upon to act upon emergencies, of sudden and unexpected occurrence. The current of events is in a perpetual fluctuation; circumstances are continually presenting themselves in new combinations, which no one could anticipate, and which must, nevertheless, constitute the basis of legislation. For example, before we came here, none of us knew that we should be called upon to give a vote respecting the Cumberland Road, the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal, or the Suppression of Piracy. Topics like these, are continually springing up, which we must decide, before they have even been the subject of deliberation among the people. But what is the nature of that question, which we shall be called upon to decide on Wednesday next 2 And what are the circumstances under which we shall decide it? It is a question which has been distinctly presented to the people, for consideration, by the constitution; and has been, for the last four years, fully and freely discussed before the people, with an immediate view to the exercise of the highest power, and most sacred privilege, they possess—the actual choice of the man who is to preside over their destinies. It is a question, therefore, which, from the very mode of its recurrence, must always be presented to us, after it has undergone the deliberate examination, and, to a certain extent, the decision of the people. But there is another view of the constitution on this subject, which leads us still more clearly to the conclusion, that, in the selection of a President from the candidates presented to us by the people, we are bound to regard their will as the rule of our conduct. I will illustrate it by putting a case, to which I request the particular attention of the gentleman from Delaware, that he may obviate the inference which I shall deduce from it, if he can. Suppose that one of the candidates should receive one hundred and thirty electoral votes; the majority requisite to a choice being one hundred and thirty-one—ls that candidate chosen President? You say, assuredly he is not. Why is he not chosen Because he has not conclusive evidence that a majority of the people of the United States prefer him to any other candidate. Even the largest plurality, short of a majority, does not complete the election. For what purpose, then, is it sent here? That we may elect a man who unites only a small minority of the people of the United States in his favor This would be absurd. The reason why the elecVoI. I.-29
tion devolves upon us, demonstrates the object for which it is sent, here. It devolves upon us, simply because the constitution will not place the sceptre of power in the bands of any man who is not preferred to any other, by a majority of the people; and, therefore, I infer, as a necessary consequence, that the three highest candidates are sent to us, in order that we may select the one, who is preferred by a majority of the people. The doctrine of the gentleman from Delaware, therefore, is in direct violation of the very principle of the constitution which imposes upon us the duty of electing a President. There is yet another reason which operates with great force on my mind, in favor of considering the members of this House the mere organs of the popular will, on this question. It is this. If, in the discharge of our legislative duty, we pass a law which is unwise, and in its operation injurious to the country—the remedy is easy and obvious. The people raise their voices against it; they discard the offending representatives, and the obnoxious law is repealed. But if it should happen on this, or any future occasion, that this House should elect a President from selfish and corrupt motives, where is the remedy ? There can be none. The deed is done. It is irreclaimable. Even the perpetrators may repent, in sackcloth and ashes, but there is no power that can do away the iniquity. It is evident, therefore, that if we do not recognize the right of the people to control our votes by instructions, we act wholly without responsibility. It is in vain that they have the right to dismiss the unfaithful representatives from their service. Though the example might operate as a terror to future transgressors, yet the work of corruption would still remain, and the administration, though detested and execrated by an indignant people, would maintain its odious and distracted rule, during the whole constitutional period. The very circumstance that the act is in its nature irrevocable, makes the denial of the right of instruction, equivalent to an absolute denial of all responsibility whatever, on the part of the representative. There is another view of the subject, involving considerations of great delicacy, to which I feel bound, by a sense of duty, to call the attention of the committee. What, sir, is the peculiar nature of the power we are about to exercise, as it respects our own honor and reputation? When I am called upon to give my opinion upon any measure of general policy, or to co-operate in the passage of a law, in which my constituents and myself are equally interested; if I discharge that duty according to my own best ability and judgment, though my conduct should expose me to disapprobation and censure, yet I can elevate my head, not only with a consciousness of my own purity, but with the still prouder consciousness that no man suspects me of dishonor. But what must be the feelings of every high-minded and honorable man, when called upon to perform that duty which will soon, (and, I trust in God, for the last time,) devolve upon this House? Though his heart might be as pure as the principles of our holy religion, and his conduct as disinterested as patriotism itself, yet, should he act in opposition to the will of his constituents, to what ungenerous imputations must he not unavoidably subject himself? Acting, as he does, in the midst of temptations, which even the most virtuous find it more easy to avoid than to resist, how many will be ready to point at him the finger of scorn, exclaiming, as he passes, “There goes the man who abandoned his constituents, and sold his country!” In vain does his conscience acquit him; in vain does he seek for consolation in the consciousness of his own integrity. To a mind of nice sensibility, there is something both Inortifying and degrading in the idea of being the object, even of unmerited suspicion. When called upon to act, under such embarrassing circumstances, should we not, therefore, anxiously adopt, for the regulation of our conduct, a
sound and steady principle, upon which our honor may securely repose, free from the breath of suspicion * if we take the will of our constituents as our guide, we shall come to the discharge of the important trust in question, with our powers of attorney in our pockets, and our principles inscribed on our foreheads. No speculations will be then indulged, as to the motives of our preference; and we shall act under the cheering and consolatory conviction, that even malignity cannot insinuate that any secret hope, or latent expectation of reward, has induced us to disregard the will, and sacrifice the interests, of our constituents. Sir, I do solemnly declare, in the presence of my God, that if the election of a President were a duty of frequent recurrence, and I were called upon to discharge it upon principles, or under circumstances, that would expose me to such imputations, I would resign my seat, and abandon public life for ever, rather than put it in the power of malice to as: sail my reputation, by charges so plausible. I will call the attention of the gentleman from Delaware, to a view of this question, which l request him to consider, as (what I know him to o a judicious, a practical statesman. We have thus far looked at the theory and philosophy of the constitution; let us now advert, for a moment, to the practical operation of the Governinent. The gentleman has told us, that we should select the man whom our own judgment—“our independent judgment,” shall indicate, as best qualified to fill the Presidential office, without respect to the opinions or wishes of the people. Sir, the first qualification of the Chief Magistrate of a Republic, is the confidence of the people, and no man, who has not that confidence, can be either entitled or qualified to exercise the powers that belong to that exalted station. Suppose we were perfectly certain that the man whom our independent judgment would select, as best qualified, would be opposed by the deliberate will of four fifths of the people. Would we have a right to elect him Oh, yes, says the gehtleman, “The constitution gives us the right.” I know we have the physical, and if you will, the constitutional power; but that is not the question. Have we the moral right? Is it consistent with our duty, as representatives of the people Gentlemen may talk as much as they please about our prerogative, as “independent judges,” and utter specious and imposing dissertations upon the rights of conscience; but, if we elect a President in direct contradiction to the known will of the people, what will be the inevitable consequence 2 You clothe him with the emblems of power, without the substance; you impose upon him the highest of all responsibilities, without the power of fulfilling the obligations growing out of that responsibility. sceptre into his hand, and, in the very act of placing it there, you paralyze the arm that is to wield it. Let us look a little more minutely into the nature and operation of public opinion, as connected with this subject. Is the people of the United States had never been called upon to examine this question, and express their will in relation to it; if it were a principle of the constitution that the Chief Magistrate of the Republic should be elevated by lot; and if chance were to cast the office upon a man who was not their choice, and who had not , their confidence; I believe they would patiently acquiesce, although their will should be defeated. But, when the constitution has made it their right and their duty to examine the question, and express, their will upon it; and when they sea that will defeated by human agency, the agency too of their own representatives; is it in the nature of things that they should not feel deeply indignant at the authors of so glaring an outrage upon their most sacred rights? Is it to be expected that they would calmly and quietly submit, when their constitutional will has bcen contemned by their representatives?
In a word, sir, you put the
Are they, indeed, the mere stocks and stones, which such insensibility would imply? Sir, I sincerely hope, as I confidently believe, that they are not. It would be a fearful omen if they were. It would go far to prove, what the arguments of the gentleman from Delaware seem to imply, that they are incapable of exercising this high attribute of self-government. But the supposition is a libel upon the people. If you were to elect a Presi. dent, upon the principles and under the circumstances I have supposed; you would elevate him only to be a more conspicuous object of public reprobation; a miserable effigy of power; a common target, at which a highminded people would level their just indignation. Sir, a lofty and generous ambition would disdain to accept power under such circumstances. I presume I shall not expose myself to the imputation of flattering the people of the United States, (and God knows I have never been a flatterer, either of the peo. ple or their rulers,) when I ascribe to them as much virtue and intelligence, as has ever fallen to the lot of any people on earth. Nor shall I be considered as ad. vancing an extraordinary proposition, when I affirm, that our Government is constructed, and ought to be administered, with as much regard to the will of the people, as that of Great Britain—or, to put a clearer case, that of France in the days of the Emperor Napo. leon. Yet, in neither of these Governments were the principles of the gentleman from Delaware ever carried into effect. They never were carried into practical operation by any civilized Government, holding jurisdiction over an intelligent population, nor, until the nature of man is changed, will they ever be. As respects Great Britain, where time and experience have adjusted the operation of the political system, certain principles, recognizing the controling influence of popular opinion, have been so long settled by the practice of the Execu. tive Government, that they are now considered fundamental. No administration ever thinks of retaining power, with a majority of the people against them. How often have we seen the King, in obedience to the voice of the nation, discard from his service ministers in whom he still reposed the most undiminished confidence, and select others, not in conformity with the dictates of his own “independent judgment,” but in compliance with the will of the people. Their confidence, and not his, is the point upon which the existence of an administration depends. Sir, there never has been a minister in England, not excepting the late Lord Castlereagh, who would have nerve enough to take the seals of office upon the principles maintained by the gentleman from Delaware. If, then, in a country where the authority of the Executive Government, in addition to its mighty patronage, is invested with the sanctity which naturally results from its hereditary character, it is practically demonstrated by the experience of a century, that no administration can maintain itself against the will of the nation—how desp rate would be the experiment of electing a President against the popular will, in this country, where the people are more generally intelligent, the Government more popular in its organization, and the Executive Department destitute of the adventitious influence which belongs to an hereditary monarchy . Even Bonaparte himself, when supported by two hundred thousand bayonets, and wielding the whole military power of France, was compelled at all times to acknowledge the supremacy of the national will. Such was his own declaration, after he had fallen from power, when viewing the retrospect of his eventful life, with the eye rather of a philosopher than a monarch. If this mighty sovereign was compelled to admit the omnipotence of public opi. nion, what a wretched spectacle of debility and distriction should we have, if it should be disregarded in the election of a Republican President! Sir, a President elected upon such principles, would be an object rather to be despised than dreaded; for he would soon find,
that he had very little power, either for good or for evil. I will now say a few words in answer to an imposing,
upon us by the people, but by the constitution. were I to take this proposition simply in the terms in which
but, in my opinion, deceptive argument, urged by the he has expressed it, I should regard it as either absurd
gentleman from Delaware.
make an election, since that obligation would constrain the friends of each candidate to adhere to him throughout the contest ? Now, there may be many difficulties connected with a doctrine or a duty, which neither destroys the truth of the one, nor absolves from the obligation of the other. If the mere existence of such dif. ficulties would absolve us from any duty, there would be an end to the obligation of almost every duty. I see a very easy and obvious mode of surmounting the difficulty suggested by the gentleman; but, before I state it, 1 will take the liberty of asking him how he can get over the very same difficulty, upon his own principles? The principle of preference, whatever it is, that induces a member here to vote for a particular candidate, imposes upon him a moral obligation to vote for that candidate. I say we should vote in conformity with the will of our constituents. The gentleman says we should vote in conformity with the dictates of conscience. There is my principle, and here is his. They are of equal obligation. Is it not evident, therefore, that both would equally produce the difficulty under consideration If we adhere, without departure, to the candidate selected upon either principle, there can be no election. But, sir, the difficulty is imaginary. The plain and practical rule, is, to endeavor, if possible, to carry into effect the will of our constituents. We must make this effort honestly, without any sculking behind pretexts, or forms. If it be found that their favorite cannot prevail; that the candidate who received their electoral vote unites but a small minority of the people of the United States in his favor, and that the two others are more prominent; we must then choose between them, still conforming to the will of our constituents, in making that choice, if their will be known to us. If we cannot succeed in electing their first choice, we should endeavor to elect the person next in their confidence. By this process, the final control will be found, where it ought to be, in the general voice of the people of the United States. I find myself called upon, to do what * Not to elect a President, but to complete an election which the people have left in an inchoate state, merely because they cannot meet together to complete it themselves. The framers of the constitution supposed that the popular branch of Congress would be the best means of concentrating the national will, and thereby consummating the work commenced by the people. , The principies in which it originated, are not changed by the accidental circumstances which have cast upon us the duty of adding the finishing stroke to it. All agree that it is a misfortune that a majority of the people have not united in favor of one man; and that it was the very end of the constitution, the “consummation most devoutly to be wished,” that such majority should have been obtained in the first instance. Why, then, is it not equally desirable now what is it that has suddenly produced this magical change in the principles which regulate this great national operation, of choosing a President? Sir, these principles are eternal, and circumstances do not affect them. If, as it must be admitted, it was the primary object of the constitution to elevate to the Executive chair, the man who should be the choice of a majority of the people, that does not cease to be the object of the constitution when the election devolves upon this House. The election of a President must be regarded as a continued operation, carried on upon the same principles throughout. . It would be a miserable and incongruous piece of patch-work, to commence with one set of principles, and end with another. But, says the gentleman from Delaware, the power we exercise in electing a President is not conferred
--- - He asks—if we are bound or unintelligible. to obey the will of our constituents, how can we ever and will not affect to misunderstand him.
But I know the gentleman's meaning, His proposition is, that the election does not devolve upon this House by any act of the people, expressive of their wish that it should come here, but by a mere contingency, for which, as it must unavoidably occur sometimes, the constitution has made provision. But how does this strengthen the gentleman's argument? Are we to be told that, because it is the “necessity and not the will” of the people, that “consents” to our having any thing to do with this question; we are, therefore, absolved from all responsibility ? The very reverse should be the inference. Sir, I will now suppose a case, suggested by this argument of the gentleman from Delaware, which, from its peculiar application to myself, is better calculated than any thing I could select, to illustrate the sincerity of my , attachment to the principles I have avowed. The constitution, providing for another contingency, declares, that if this House fails to elect a President, the duties and powers of that office shall devolve upon the VicePresident. Now, if individual preference, without regard to the public will, were to decide this question, I need scarcely declare, in this place, that there is no man in this country whom I would prefer to the individual logoted by the people for the office of Vice-Presient. But, sir, if, under the influence of this feeling, I were to give my vote in this House, for the indirect purpose of defeating the election, and throwing upon the VicePresident elect powers which the people never intended to confer; though my vote and my motive should be concealed from every human eye, I should never be able to make peace with my own conscience. I should regard myself as guilty of the most infamous dereliction of duty; and every honorable feeling of my nature would rise up to reproach me. In passing this sentence of deep reprobation upon my own supposed conduct, I trust I shall not be understood as speaking harshly of the possible conduct of others. The sentence I should pass upon myself, would result from my own peculiar notions of duty. Other gentlemen, entertaining different views of this subject, might pursue the course I should condemn in myself, without incurring the reproach of their own consciences, or deserving the reproach of others. I now invite the attention of the committee, for a few moments, to a topic which has been drawn into this debate, whether fortunately or unfortunately, it is not for me to determine. We are told that we have a precedent, on this subject, set by the Congress of 1801; and we are called upon to yield to that precedent the deference due to the acts of our predecessors. For my own part, sir, I wish it to be distinctly understood, that I do not consider that precedent entitled to the slightest possible respect, upon this question. . With me it has not the weight of a feather. And why do I reject it? Not because it is a federal precedent, for mere words have no weight with me; but because it was established by men who had deliberately resolved to violate their duty to their constituents and to the constitution, by attempting an act of usurpation, which, for boldness and desperation, would not have discredited a Cromwell or a Bonaparte. They knew, perfectly well, that what they had in contemplation would excite the indignation of the people, and this rule was conseqently provided to veil their proceedings from the public eye. But, sir, I absolve the Federal party from the sin of that transaction. God forbid that the weight of that sin should rest upon any party now in existence. It was the deed, to be sure, of Federalists; but the Federal party— I mean the people of the United States, known by that denomination-never gave it their sanction. What,
then, was it, that doomed to political infamy and proscription, Aaron Burr and his associates ? Looking at the strict constitutional power of this House, that pretender was as fairly entitled to be chosen by it, as Mr. Jefferson. He had a equal number of electoral votes, making no discrimination. Whence, then, the popular odium incurred by those who voted for Barr Simply, sir, from the attempt to carry into practical effect the principle that this House has a right to elect a President without regard to the popular will. This was the sin, sir. “The very head and front of their offending, had this extent no more ” A combination of politicians, some fifty or sixty in number, who had been accustomed to wield the political power of the country, seeing the sceptre about to pass from their hands, screwed up their courage to the sticking point, and boldly set at defiance the will of the nation, by attempting to elect a man President, who was known not to be the choice of the people. Under the influence—the maddening influence, of party feelings, they attempted, as a party, what none of them would have attempted, and perhaps few of them approved, as individuals. They were actuated by a principle, similar to that which stimulates and sustains a mob in the commission of depredations, which every individual composing it, when left to himself, would shudder to contemplate. They confirmed the wavering, and quieted the apprehensions of the timid, by crying out, “The party will sustain us; the party will sustain us.” Sir, it was a fatal delusion. It was the last act of their political life; it put a final end to the ascendency of the Federal party. I agree with the gentleman from Delaware, that the policy pursued by the Federal party, with the exception of two or three measures, which nobody now attempts to justify, was a wise policy. They organized the Executive Government, and a system of national defence. They erected many monuments of their wisdom. But, in this closing scene of their power, what did they do? An act which alienated the confidence of the country, struck down the fabric of their power, and, by the re-action produced, swept away all the memorials of their glory, of which the gentleman from Delaware has spoken. Measures were confounded with men, and both involved in one common prostration. And hence the feeble and debilitating policy pursued by the Republican party, during the first years of its ascendency. Without pretending to question, therefore, the general wisdom of the Congress of 1801, I must protest against yielding to their precedent on the subject before us. There are some other topics which I intended to touch, but which I will waive, as I have too long trespassed upon the attention of the committee already. There is a single remark, however, which I must be permitted to make, before I sit down. We are called upon to close the galleries; and upon what grounds 2 Have we any evidence that they will be disturbed Have we any reason to believe that they will be more disorderly then, than they are now Our tongues will be silent on the approaching occasion, and it would be a reflection upon the people of the United States to suppose they could be spectators of such a scene, and not be hushed into silent attention by the moral grandeur of so simple and sublime aspectacle. Sir, who are they that will fill the galleries 2 They will be an epitome of the people of the United States, respectable and intelligent gentlemen from a distance, who, for aught I know, may be as capable of deciding this great question, with a view to the tranquillity of the Union, (i say it without intending to derogate from the dignity of the House,) as our honorable selves. Mr. MANGUM, of North Caralina, then rose, and said, that he felt great repugnance to obtrude his remarks upon the notice of the House at any time—a repugnance which, upon this occasion, was certainly not diminished
That he felt it his duty to make a few remarks in reply to those he had just heard—not so much with the view of affording either interest or instruction to the House, as with the view of publicly avowing those principles, which be deemed sound, and by which he had determined that his conduct on the approaching occasion should be regulated. | The question, said Mr. M. immediately under consideration, is intrinsically of but slight and trivial import, but it derives much consequence from other and more important questions that have been drawn into discussion. What, asked Mr. M. is the nature of the question | before the House It is one exclusively of police. But, from the manner in which it had been treated, he should have inferred, but for the gentleman's disclaimer, that his object was not so much to discuss this question, as to issue a sort of manifesto to the people of the United States, to justify those who yield to a strong current, and to damn those who resist it. It is a question not of open galleries or closed galleries. Gentlemen had, therefore, been engaged in combatting shadows; and much of what had been said, had been addressed to a motion which no one had made. The question, as he understood it, was simply this:Whether the galleries should be thrown open, subject to be closed at the motion of the Speaker, or, whether they should be thrown open, subject to be closed at the request of the delegation from any one state. For his | own part, he should have thought that the latter arrangement would have been conceded as a matter of courtesy, to those gentlemen who stand singly and unsustained by colleagues, as representatives from the weaker states. For himself, he had not the remotestidea that those galleries, let them be occupied by whom they might, were about to overawe, the House, or exert any improper influence upon it whatever. His reliance was placed upon the deep moral feeling that pervades this nation. on this he relied to sustain gentlemen in the discharge of their duty; and on this he relied more than on all the bayonets and cannon that military despotism ever wielded. This is a mere question of order. The admission of strangers was an act of courtesy, granted, as such acts are always understood to be, upon an implied obligation of good behaviour. It was not to be presumed beforehand, that those who were admitted, would-violate the laws of decorum: but, if they did, there could be no doubt that the Speaker was competent to exclude them: and as little doubt that he would do it at the suggestion of the delegation from any one state, that a free exercise of their rights required their exclusion. He would again repeat, that he felt no fears from any attempt to overawe the House; and still less had he fears of the intriguers who had been spoken of, whether posted in the galleries, or operating in this hall. His position was peculiar; it was that of an armed neutrality, he had but little to hope, and nothing to fear. He knew that he stood upon a narrow isthmus, lashed upon either side by the most angry surges, from which neither numbers nor denunciations should be able to drive him. Calling to his aid the little lights of his understanding, and with a heart bent upon the best interests of his country, he should firmly and fearlessly endeavor to perform his duty. He should not, however, have troubled the House at this time with a single remark, but for the principles he had heard advanced; and against which he felt it his duty to enter his solemn protest. He had always listened to the gentleman from South Carolina with great pleasure, and he must confess that he had heard him on this occasion with the more pleasure, because he thought he had perceived that his talent, his ingenuity, and is fertility of resource, had proved insufficient to sustain him under the weight of the cause he advocated. whom, asked Mr. M. are we bound to obey, in giving our votes
by the state of indisposition in which he found himself.
on the approaching occasion & We, I mean, who are in
the minority? If I understand the gentleman, we are bound to obey the will of those whose candidate shall have the highest number of votes. I would be glad to know whether we are bound to do this by a moral obligation, or only by reason of the philosophy of the Constitution, to which the gentleman alluded. If by a moral obligation, that obligation addresses itself to every honest mind with the force of a perfect obligation; it must be obeyed, and why then has the Constitution been so silly as to allow us a choice between three candidates, when we are morally, and of course perfectly bound to elect the candidate who has the largest number of votes in the electoral colleges } [Here Mr. M. yielded the floor to Mr. McDuffre, who wished to explain. He had not said that gentlemen were bound to elect the candidate who had the highest number of votes; on the contrary, he had said distinctly, that a plurality of votes did not make an election.] Mr. M. resumed. He was then to understand the gentleman, that we are not constitutionally, but only morally bound; or, in other words, that we have no right to disregard the will of the people, as expressed in a plurality of votes by the electoral colleges. But, if so, was not the argument the same 2—the conclusion the same? Was not that obligation as binding, as an obligation emanating immediately from the Constitution ?— Must not every honest man regard it in that light And must not every man who was not base enough to barter away his birth right for a mess of pottage—to sell himself for loaves and fishes—feel its binding power If the obligation was a moral one, it was a perfect one, and, as such, commanded perfect obedience. He must, therefore, most emphatically repeat, that it was extreme folly if not worse, in the framers of the Constitution, to give' to this House the power of selection between three candidates, when, at the same time, the hands of members are tied up from the exercise of that power by the strongest obligations. The Constitution, then, holds out to us bread, and gives us a stone. But this never was the design of the framers of the Constitution. And the very fact that they have given us the power to choose, is enough to prove that the principle, as stated, does not furnish the rule by which we are to be governed. If, then, we are not bound by the gentleman's moral obligation, to elect that candidate who happens to have a plurality of votes in the electoral colleges, what is the rule by which we are to be governed Is it by the vote of our respective states? That cannot be the rule: for the Constitution has not prescribed any uniform mode for the election of electors, but has left that power in the Legislatures of the States. And it may happen in those States in which they elect electors by districts, that there may be a tie; that the votes for two contending candidates may be equal. How will gentlemen extricate themselves from this dilemma—the dilemma of a tie Will they resort to their principle 2. It will fail them—it is not principle—it is, in my humble judgment, absurdity. The gentleman from South Carolina has asked the gentleman from Delaware, with a sort of triumph, to answer the case which he put, to wit: that if 130 votes should be given for one candidate, falling one vote short of the number required for an election, whether that gentleman would dare to resist such a majority ? I would answer, that great respect is due to the opinions of the people. That it would be great impolicy, in ordinary cases, to resist so full an expression of the public will. But reasons might exist, which would render it the imperious duty of the representative, as an honest man, to resist it. There is no principle concerned, as, I trust, I have shown. It is mere matter of ea pediency.— But let me suppose a case, predicatcd upon the alleged principle, that we are bound to give our votes in accord
ance with the votes of our respective states, and ask the the doctrine is subject to all the objections to which I
grentleman to answer it. There are twenty-four states
and three candidates for the Presidency. Suppose eight states should vote for each candidate; if we are bound to vote as our respective states do, no election can be made. And what will be the result It is obvious.By adhering to the principle, of which the gentleman speaks, you postpone three candidates, upon whom the people of the United States had fixed their eyes, as fit persons for the Chief Magistracy, and each of whom had received the votes of one-third of the people of the United States for that office. You set aside all these, and let the Vice President into that office; a man who had not received a single vote in the United States for the Presidency. What will the people's men say to this doctrine and yet it is principle, sacred principle, according to the views of some gentlemen. But, says the gentleman, we are first to try to elect the people's man, and if we cannot effect that object, then, and then only, take up some other candidate. We must yield to the necessity of the case. Mark me, it is moral principle, says the gentleman, by which we are bound. A principle is surely a very bad one, which will not wear longer than one day, and which must be abandoned as soon as it is put into practice. But we must yield to the necessity of the case ! I had thought that that which yields to any necessity whatever was not moral principle, for moral obligation admits of no compromise. It is said that, if on trial. we cannot succeed in electing a President, to prevent the Vice President's coming into that office, we must give way. But here are eight states in favor of each candidate—who, is to give way first? If I give way first, may not my constituents reproach me with an abandonment of principle 2 If the gentleman gives way first, does he not abandon principle Sir, such a principle as must be abandoned on one day's trial, is not a principle which I will ever recognize. If, then, sir, we are under no moral obligation to vote for the candidate who has the highest number of votes, nor to obey the votes of our respective states; what, I again ask, is to be the rule which must govern us? Sir, it appears to me that the whole fallacy, which pervades the arguments of the gentlemen whose views I am opposing, consists in this—they are comparing the votes of the people, taken per capita, with the votes of twenty-four distinct and independent sovereigns. They are comparing things which have no points of resemblance, nor have they any assignable relation to each other.— The states, as sovereigns, are all equal. The people, who make up those sovereignties, numerically considered, are totally unequal, and, in that respect, bear towards each other various and diversified proportions. Are we then to be bound by the votes of our respective districts? (This is the doctrine of the people's men, and all are people's men now-a-days, from the much reprobated caucus men, down to the humblest political professors.) Here, I trust, I may be permitted to say, that I shall, for once in my life, at least, in the honest discharge of my duties, fall in with the doctrines of the people's men— I expect to represent the plurality of my district. But are we bound by the votes of our districts? I mean, in point of principle * Did the framers of the Constitution design that we should be so bound? ... If they did, wherefore does not the Constitution prescribe an uniform mode of electing representatives by districts? And yet the power of prescribing the mode, is left with the legislatures of the respective states. Some states elect their representatives by general ticket, as does Georgia, for example. How will gentlemen ascertain the votes of their districts, under the general ticket system How will gentlemen extricate themselves from this dilemma Will they do it by resorting to the statement, that the state, in that case, is each member's district If so, then each member is bound to represent the vote of his state. This brings the question back to the ground on which I have already considered it; and