« ForrigeFortsett »
have already adverted. It is true, that the gentleman from South Carolina cannot be mistaken as to the vote of the people: for in that state they elect members by districts. Should he recognize the principle of perfect obedience to the voice of his district, then should also every other member. If this is principle, what would be the consequence of adherence to it, in the most of cases— indeed, in the actual posture of affairs at present It is plain—no President could be made, and the Vice President would come in. If it is principle, we are bound to adhere, but if we may give way, and are not bound to adhere, then it should no longer be dignified with the name of principle, but it is a mere question of erpediency. Again, if we are not bound by the votes of our districts, (as is clearly the case, in some of the states, for the simple reason, that they have no districts,) but are bound by the votes of our respective states, then this dilemma might arise—A member might be obliged to vote for a candidate, who was opposed by every man in his dis. trict. Here he gives up the wishes of all his constituents, the only people upon earth to whom he is politically responsible, and for what? To fall in with the vote of the state—and by adhering to that vote, no President is elected and the Vice President comes in, after all these fearless and patriotic sacrifices. Again: If our states were all of equal size, that is, equal in point of population, and the people fail to make an election in the electoral colleges, it is clear that no election could ever be made by the House of Representatives, should the members recognize as correct, and adhere to the principle, that they are bound to vote in accordance with the votes of their respective states.— In the present unequal size of the states, under any or. dinary circumstances of combination, the operation of that principle would defeat an election nine times out of ten; and in no solitary case can an election be made in the House of Representatives by adhering to the principle, except by enforcing the odious doctrine, that the minority shall prevail over the majority—that is, by making thirteen or more of the smaller states, that had voted for one candidate in the electoral colleges, without effect, come into the House and do the same, with com: plete effect. What they were unable to do, by reason of inequality of population, they are made to effect by the equality of their sovereignity. Sir, if these are people's principles, I, for one, beg to be delivered from them. It is said that, in matters of legislation, it is a vexed question, whether the representative is not bound to obey the will of his constituents, and that many great and wise men have held the affirmative. Sir, I would not give a button for the doctrine, either the one way or the other, so far as regards its practical utility. As to the mere theory, 1 concede it to gentlemen—they may delight themselves with whatever theories they please, whether ingeniously or inartificially constructed. But,
Election of President.
though the question, as to legislation, may be vexed, gentlemen tell us, that, in the business of electing a President by the House of Representatives, there can be no doubt—the case is a plain one. Sir, I argue directly the reverse. In the business of legislation, the people, in primary assemblies, cannot act—it is constitu. tionally, it is physically impossible. There is, therefore, a propriety, in a representative government, like ours, that the legislative body should respond to the voice of the people; that, as a reflector, it should give back the true image of the people's wishes. But, in the election of a chief magistrate, the people can act in primary assemblies, those assemblies present the proper and the best mode in which the election can be made. But the people, having attempted an election in this mode, and having failed of success, the constitution brings the election to this House: this House is the umpire, the judge on whom devolves the settlement of that momen.
tous question, which the people have been unable to settle themselves, for want of greater unanimity.
[FEB. 3, 1825.
Sir, I hope I have now succeeded in showing the fal lacy of the gentleman's--pardon me—the people's doctrines, of instruction. What, then, is our duty, in the present crisis, and on the approabhing occasion ? Is it to fall into the ranks of the candidate, who may happen to be the strongest ? (A very comfortable doctrine, indeed, particularly, to those who happen to be in the minority; our understandings and conscience approving, we should like to be wafted with you gentlemen, on the strong currents.)—Is it to obey the voice of our states ? or, is it to obey the voice of our districts? It is, in my judment, neither more nor less than this—To do what is right, according to the best dictates of our own understandings, and leave the consequences to God, and to our country.
It has been asked, how can we hold up our heads when we return home, if we have gone against the will of our constituents Sir, we can hold our heads as erect as an angel. The man who has honestly done, what he understood, after deep and anxious reflection, to be his duty, may meet the eyes of his constituents, aye, the eyes of the world, and neither blench nor quail, though none should smile upon him. It has, also, been said, (and the remark, though it can have none here, may be calculated to have an effect abroad,) that, whenever a man has done deeds of renown, the people delight to honor him, and will, with great certainty, elevate him to the highest offices. Sir, this is a mere truism; every body here, knows that this is true. It is what the people will always do; it is what they have done, in a thousand instances; but, sir, it is eractly what, in the present case, they have not done. Else, why does the election come to this House Sir, a majority of the people have distinctly told you, that not even the most favored candidate is the man of their wishes. Neither is elected, though all may have been honored. It is we who must elect.
We have also been told, that, upon grounds of expediency, the sceptre ought not to be placed in the hands of any man who has not a majority of the votes of his countrymen; and that, if we do place it in the hands of such a one, we only place it there to lop off his arm. Sir, this but ill agrees with what is a fundamental principle in the system of the people's men. What, sir! are the intelligent and enlightened people of these states, who are so much flattered in one breath, to be represented in the next as ferecious as tigers! Are they to rise in their wrath, and hurl the full weight of their indignant vengeance at an individual who has done no harm * Who has done no one act to excite their displeasure? Suppose three candidates should come before us with an unequal number of votes, I admit we should very properly feel inclined to elect him “carteris paribus,” who had the largest number, (for I would not willingly deprive gentlemen of the smallest comfort.) But, suppose the candidate who had the smallest number should, in the result, be chosen President, is it maintained that the people of the United States would rise in vengeance against that man Surely, sir, whatever phials of wrath might be exhausted on the heads of their guilty representatives, the people would pour out none upon the innocent head of a man who had done no one offensive deed, and whose only crime had been to be constitutionally presented for choice, and constitutionally chosen. We have heard, further, and much to my astonishment, that the doctrine of the gentleman from Delaware would not flourish in old England-nay, that it is too strong even for the military despotism of Napoleon. I scorn to flatter any man, and am sure that, on this occasion, I shall be exempt from the imputation of such design, when I say I was an attentive listener to the gentleman from Dela. ware, and did think, and still think, that sounder doctrines, or doctrines delivered with more pellucid clear. ness, never fell from the lips of any man, than from those of that distinguished member; and I did consider the
Feb. 4, 1825.]
Suppression of Piracy.
demonstration by which they were maintained, precluded reply; and I am happy to find my own opinion bolstered and corroborated by an opinion that comes to me with so much weight and authority. I have not heard why his doctrines would not flourish in old England; the gentleman from South Carolina did not condescend to favor us with anything more on that point than mere assertion. As to what was said in regard to the iron reign of Napoleon, and the declarations that he made, it is indeed true, that that despotic ruler professed to be governed by the will of the people, (Bonaparte, it seems, too, was also a “people's man.”) But, sir, while he professed this, he was supported by 250,000 bayonets; and, in such circumstances, what was the “people's will " It was the will of their tyrant. Here Mr. M., not having concluded his remarks, gave way for a motion for the committee to rise.
IN SENATE–Farnay, FEBRUARY 4, 1825. SUPPRESSION OF PIRACY
The Senate resumed the consideration of the bill “for the suppression of piracy in the West lndies" The motion of Mr. SMITH to amend the 4th section, (which Mr. Macon had proposed to strike out,) being the question pending— Mr. TALBOT hoped the Senate would not go on debating for days, motions to amend parts of the bill which were then, after all the time spent on their details, struck out; he therefore suggested to Mr. SMITH the propriety of withdrawing his motion to amend, that the question might be taken on the principle itself contained in the fourth and remaining sections of the bill. Mr. SMITH yielded to this suggestion, to save time, and withdrew his motion. Mr. TALBOT then moved to strike out the 4th, 5th, 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th sections of the bill, (all relating to armed merchant vessels,) which authorize the recapture of vessels from the pirates, taken on the coast of Cuba, &c. allow salvage therefor of one-eighth to onehalf, apportion among the crews and owners of merchant vessels, the property of captured piratical vessels, requiring bond of armed merchant vessels, for lawful conduct—authorizing the President of the United States to establish instructions for them, providing for a fund out of the vessels captured from pirates, from which pensions are to be allowed to sailors disabled in action with pirates, and to their families if killed, &c. &c. On the motion to strike out these sections, a wide debate took place, in which Messrs. TALBOT, BARBOUR, SMITH, HOLMES, of Maine, and MILI.S., engaged. The question being taken on striking out the sections, it was decided in the negative by yeas and nays, as follows: YEAS–Messrs. Barton, Bell, Bouligny, Branch, Brown, Chandler, Clayton, Cobb, D'Wolf, Dickerson, Findlay Gaillard, Lowrie, Macon, Noble, Ruggles, Talbot, Taylor, Tazewell, Thomas, and Van Dyke—21. NAYS-Messrs. Barbour, Benton, Eaton, Edwards, Hayne, Jackson, Johnson, of Ky., Johnston, of Lou., Kelly, King, of N. Y., Knight, Lloyd, of Md., Lloyd, of Mass., M'Ilvaine, M'Lean, Mills, Palmer, Parrott, Seynuur, Smith, Van Buren, and Williams—22. Mr. LOW RIE then moved to strike out the second section of the bill, which is as follows: Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the commanders and crews of the armed vessels of the United States shall be, and they are hereby, authorized, under such instructions as may be given them by the President of the United States, in the fresh pursuit of pirates on the Island of Cuba, or any other of the Islands of Spain in the West Indies, to land whenever it may be necessary to secure the capture of the said pirates, and there to subdue, vanquish, and capture them, to deliver them
up to the authority of the Island where captured, or to bring them to the United States for trial and adjudication, as the said instructions of the President of the United States may prescribe. This motion was decided without debate, by yeas and nays, in the negative, as follows. YEAS.–Messrs. Bell, Branch, Brown, Chandler, Clayton, Cobb, D’Wolf, Dickerson, Findlay, Gaillard, Lowrie, Macon, Ruggles, Talbot, Taylor, Van Dyke—16. NAYS.–Messrs Barbour, Barton, Benton, Bouligny, Eaton, Edwards, Hayne, Jackson, Johnson, of Ky., Johnston, of Lou, Kelly, King, of Alab., King, of N. Y., Knight, Lloyd, of Md., Lloyd, of Mass., McIlvaine, McLean, Mills, Noble, Palmer, Parrott, Seymour, Smith, Tazewell, Thomas, Van Buren, Williams—28. On motion of Mr. MILLS, some minor amendments were adopted; and On motion of Mr. BARBOUR, (who wished to accommodate those who objected to the clause as it stood) the limitation of salvage for recaptures, was stricken out, and the amount to be allowed, left to the discretion of the Courts. The bill was then reported to the Senate as amended, and the amendments made in committee of the whole concurred in. Mr. LLOYD, of Mass, moved the adoption of the fol. lowing section, which he had some days ago intimated an intention to offer, viz: ...And be it further enacted. That for every pirate, who shall be captured by the officers, or crews, or any part of them, of vessels belonging to the United States, and brought into the United States; and who shall be convicted of the crime of piracy, by any competent tribunal, the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he hereby is, authorized and required to pay, or cause to be paid, to the owners, officers, and crews, of the vessels capturing such pirates, or to their agents, the sum of one hundred dollars for each and every pirate captured, and condemned as aforesaid; to be divided among the parties receiving the same, in like manner as is provided in the fifth section of this act, for the distribution of the property captured from pirates; and that the sum of ten thousand dollars, from any money in the Treasury, not otherwise appropriated, be, and the same is hereby, appropriated, for the object aforesaid. After some debate on this amendment, between Messrs. LLOYD, of Mass., HOLMES, of Maine, MILLS, WAN BUREN, and JOHNSTON, of Louisiana, and the adoption of a verbal amendment, proposed by Mr. MACON, The question was put on the section offered by Mr. LLOYD, and negatived—16 rising in its favor, and 21 against it. Mr. WAN BUREN then renewed the motion he had unsuccessfully made in committee of the whole, to recommit the bill to a select committee, with instructions “to report amendments thereto, giving power to the President, on its being satisfactorily proved to him that any of the pirates, mentioned in the said act, find refuge in any of the cities or ports of the said Island of Cuba, or other Islands mentioned in the said bill, and that the local governments of the said Islands, on being requested so to do, neglect, or refuse, to aid in the apprehension, prosecution, and conviction, of such pirates, to give authority to the crews of the armed vessels of the United States, under such instructions as may be given them, to land on the said Islands, in search of pirates, and there to subdue, vanquish, and capture them, and bring them to the United States for trial and adjudication, as the said instructions of the President of the United States may prescribe: and further, to authorize reprisals on the commerce and property of the inhabitants of the said Islands.” Mr. VAN BUREN supported his motion with some remarks; and,
Sen.& H. of R.] Suppression of Piracy—The Speaker's Appeal to the House. [Feb. 4, 1825.
The question having been, at his instance, divided, was first taken on the clause ending with the word “prescribe,” and was negatived; and then he withdrew the remainder of the motion. Mr. SMITH then moved the adoption of the following section: ...And be it further enacted, That the President be, and he is hereby, authorized to purchase a Steam Boat, of the largest size, and arm and man the same in such manner as he may deem proper; and, also, to cause to be built, four barges or launches, each to mount a gun on the bow, of a calibre to carry a shot not less than six pounds, and capable of carrying thirty men. This amendment was advocated by Messrs. SMITH, and JOHNSTON, of Louisiana, and was opposed by Messrs. LLOYD, of Mass., and CHANDLER. The section was amended, on the motion of Mr. LLOYD, of Massachusetts, by inserting the words “should the President deem it useful or expedient,” (the purchase of the Steam Boat,) and, on motion of Mr. HOLMES, of Maine, by striking out the words “of the largest class.” The question being then put on the section, as amended, it was rejected, without a division. Mr. HOLMES, of Maine, renewed the motion which he had unsuccessfully made, in committee of the whole, to insert the following, as the third section of the bill: ...And be it further enacted, That no public armed vessel of the United States, authorized and employed for the suppression of piracy, shall be engaged or employed in the transportation of specie, or any other articles of freight, unless specially designated therefor by the President of the United States. The question was taken on this amendment, without further debate, and was decided by yeas and lays, as follows: YEAS–Messrs. Barton, Bell, Branch, Brown, Chandler, Clayton, Cobb, Dickerson, Findlay, Gaillard, Holmes, of Maine, King, of N. Y. Lloyd, of Md. M'Lean, Macon, Noble, Puggles, Talbot, Tazewell, Thomas, Van Buren, Van Dyke, Williams—23. NAYS-Messrs. Barbour, Benton, D’Wolf, Eaton, Edwards, Elliot, Hayne, Jackson, Johnston, of Lou, King, of Alab. Knight, Lanman, Lloyd, of Mass. Lowrie, M'Ilvaine, Mills, Palmer, Parrott, Seymour, Smith, Taylor–21. So the amendment was agreed to; and then, The Senate adjourned.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES-sAME DAY. THE SPEAKER'S APPEAL TO THE HOUSE.
On motion of Mr. CONDICT, of New Jersey, the House then resumed the consideration of the motion of Mr. FORSYTH, to refer the communication of the Speaker, to a Select Committee.
Mr. ARCHER, of Virginia, said, that being himself opposed to an inquiry by a committee, and no other gentleman stating any objections to it, he rose to state the grounds of his opposition. No one could be more willing than he was to take any measure to vindicate the dignity of this House, or to respond to the just claim of any member for the vindication of his official character. But, he said, he did not consider that the Honorable Speaker was put in this predicament. What were the circumstances in which inquiries of this kind may, with propriety, be maintained by this House Ought we (said he,) to lend the grave sanction of our namesought we to operate, in a formal manner, by committees of inquiry, when nothing is presented to us to act upon but mere vague general newspaper invective 2 I ask if it consist with the dignity of this House, or with the claim of the Speaker as a faithful officer and a gentle. man, to institute this inquiry 2 1 conceive not. What, sir, are the circumstances under which we should be
justified in raising a committee in such a case as this? The act to which our attention is directed, ought to have these characteristics: It ought to be official in relation to the member whose conduct is impeached: it ought, also, to be something which can be proved if true or disproved if not true. Mr. A. asked of gentlemen to look at the paper which was the foundation of this application, and say whether it came under either of these classes. What is it? The writer of it speaks of rumors afloat here. Does he charge upon the Speaker any act of malfaisance in relation to his duties here 2 IVo; he speaks of the course expected to be taken by a large number of members—of an imputation on the whole delegation from a particular part of the country: and, when he speaks of the Speaker, what does he say * Does he charge him with corruption—with any thing which, if proven, ought to produce investigation—with anything susceptible of proof or of disproof? I suspect, sir, that the gentlemen who are disposed to pursue this inquiry, have not adverted to the paper in question. The only part of the letter which conveys an imputation upon the Speaker, is not even matter of surprise upon the part of the writer of that letter : he speaks of it as a report—as something said and whispered in this place. Suppose this charge were true, said Mr. A. which I take this occasion to say that I would be one of the last in this House or in this country to credit-suppose that it were true to the full extent of the charge, or the insinuation derived from it, what can this committee do if raised? It must, whether the charge be true or not, make a report exculpatory of the Speaker. Shall we raise a committee, then, when we know there can be but one response to the inquiry, no matter what the facts may be To do so will be to constitute an inquiry which can lead to no useful result. If the things alleged or insinuated be true—if the Speaker be guilty of all the corruption which scurrility has charged upon him, it must be a matter within his own breast, the truth of which no testimony can establish. If the allegations be true, you cannot convict the Speaker of the imputed offence. Any inquiry of ours into it, therefore, will be a farce and a mockery. I will not lend myself to such an inquiry. What, said Mr. A. does the charge, contained in this letter, in its worst form, say? Does it say that the Speaker has betrayed his duty No.: but that it is surmised that he means to do so. If it shall appear, in the sequel, that that officer has violated his duty, then there will be ground for inquiry. But, at present, suppose it were true, that the Speaker had thrown away the high character he has always maintained in the country and in this House—that he was the venal thing the publication in question would represent him to be, and that he did contemplate this shameful violation of his duty to his country—would he even in that case be punishable here 2 Would we pass upon him any other sentence than that of ineffable contempt for his corruption and folly No. sir, said Mr. A. I say that we must wait for some act which will perpetrate the corruption, by consummating the purpose. In that event, circumstances will demand an inquiry on our part. Some act will have been committed against his official duty—some act which is issuable, and can be proved or disproved. It seems to me, sir, that this House will commit its own dignity, and cast a reproach upon the Speaker himself, which l know would be unfounded, by referring this subject to a committee. I hope, therefore, that this House will not grant the inquiry which is asked. Mr. WOOD, of New York, said, that he rose simply to explain the vote he was about to give. He accorded. in opinion, with the gentleman from Wirginia, (Mr. Anchen,) that the circumstances of this case were not such as to call for any investigation by the House. The statements in the printed publication amounted to little else than vague rumor. They did not charge upon
the Speaker any act directly criminal. As to the power of this House, he observed that the present appeal was made to it in its judicial character. The House was sometimes erected, by the constitution, into a Court of justice, before which charges were preferred, and evidence taken, which sometimes resulted in the impeachment of a public officer, as was exemplified yesterday, when the Delegate from Florida rose in his place, and made statements charging a judge with mal-practice in his office. In such cases, the House possessed an inquisitorial power, which it becomes its duty to exert. The only other case in which the House acted in a judicial capacity, was, when it punished an individual for a contempt. What were the objects of this latter power The first was to protect the personal liberty of its members. The second, was to prevent them from being overawed in exercising the privilege of free.debate; and the third was to vindicate their official purity. The power of punishing contempts extends no farther than this. If the present subject was tested by this rule, it would be found not to be embraced by either of the branches of that power which he had just enumerated. Should the committee be raised, and should it act, its acting must be wholly inoperative, because the inquiry was not supported by the subject-matter. To have any effect, the matter to be inquired into must have terminated in some act either vindicatory or punishable. In the present case, there existed no such act, and therefore the inquiry must be useless. Mr. FORSYTH, of Georgia, observed, that, having made the motion which was now the subject of debate, he wished to say a few words in explanation of its nature and object, in doing which, he premised that the gentlemen who had addressed the House this morning were rather in advance of this question. A communication had been made by the Speaker to the House, requesting the appointment of a committee for the purpose of investigating certain charges which had been brought against him by a member of this House. The present motion is simply for the purpose of referring this communication to a committee. When it got there, he took it for granted that the preliminary inquiry would be, Are the charges to which this communication refers of such a nature as to require the interposition of the House of Representatives * if the committee shall think they are not, they will report accordingly, and the House will either confirm or reject their decision. If the House should confirm it, the committee will then apply to the House for further authority to act in the affair. This appeared to him to be the only rational mode of treating this very unpleasant business. The House was in possession of nothing in relation to it but the communication of the Speaker. The letter, indeed, to which it referred, and which was said to have been written by a member of this House, might be found in certain newspapers, but the House had no evidence that that which was published was a true copy of the letter. It might have been altered or interpolated by the printer. The letter, as published, must be considered either as preferring a deliberate charge of corrupt conduct against a member or members of this House, or as admitting of some explanation which should go to do away such a meaning. The member to whom the letter was attributed, if called upon, will, no doubt, answer at once, and frankly declare what he meant. He will say whether he intended to charge upon the presiding officer of this House the making of a corrupt bargain. If he shall answer in the affirmative, will any gentleman, asked Mr. F. say that this is not an act into which the House ought to inquire, nor one which the House can punish It was true that there was one difficulty attending the accusation. It charged the accused, not with an act, but only with an intention. The act has not been consummated. The vote has not been given. But I ask, If the
change is a true one, has not the bargain been made er's communication to a committee,
And, if it has, is not this corruption?–And what then It ought to be punished. Has not the House power, not merely to reprimand, but to expel, any one of its mem: bers who shall have dared to be go of such conduct If, on the contrary, it shall appear that any member of this House, governed by mere rumors, and under the influence of jealousy or mere surmises, shall have presumed to hold up, as an infamous bargainer, as a contractor for votes and influence, a member or an officer of this House, will it be contended that we have no power to punish him Certainly we have the power to reprimand, and if that is considered as insufficient, we have the power to expel him, as unworthy of a seat in this House. If this is denied, what is a member to do, who is publicly charged with an offence of this nature, or where is he to go? This is the proper and the only, place where his reputation can be vindicated. . . This House, alone, is competent to examine into the chargeIs the accused to appeal to the newspapers? For what? to prove a negative Such, unhappily, in this country, is the condition of the press, (that palladium of political liberty,) that no man can appeal to it, without a sense of dishonor. He cannot come forward, there, - and say, I join issue in this charge, without exposing himself to derision by entering into a competition with newspapers which utter falsehood and truth according to the object in view. He was ashamed to state it to the House, but the fact was so, that, pending any great election, such was the prostitution of the public press, that there was: no knowing what to believe; and it was sufficient to pronounce any charge, however gravely made, an elec: tioneering trick, to stamp it instantly with the seal of falsehood. That press, which had been so long the boast of liberty, was, in this country, no longer a protector of innocence; and it had long since ceased to be the scourge even of the guilty, save as it served to excite the sting of a guilty conscience. In this state of things, Mr. F. again asked, what was an accused or a calumniated member of this House to do? He must throw himself on the judgment of his peers, that, if falsely accused, the guilt of the calumny may reverton its author. As to the power of the House, there could be no doubt; and as to the propriety. of appointing a committee, he had himself no question. It is said, indeed, that this charge relates only to intention; the crime has not been consummated, and cannot be until a corrupt act has been performed. But I pray the House to consider a case which I will now present to
them. Suppose there is a claimant who has a claim.
pending before this House for a large sum of money, and he knows that a certain member, from his ability, from his unblemished reputation for integrity, from his long acquaintance with the rules of business, and from general knowledge of the persons of the members; is possessed of great influence over their minds; and that claimant offers this member a bribe, which the member accepts, and circumstances afterwards transpire to bring the transaction to light, between the time of giving the bribe, and the time of deciding on the claim ; will any gentleman tell me that we may not punish such a trao.
action? will any gentleman tell me that we must wa, till the crime is consummated—till the vote is gove." both him who
Surely not. We may punish, at once, - offered, and him who accepted the base, coin. T he charge, in this case, is, that a member of this House intends to give his influence, and vote, in favor of a certain candidate for the presidency, and, on that consider’ ation, is to receive a place of profit and honor. Is there any distinction between the two cases? Is not this bribery, to all intents and purposes? If the charge is made. the charge ought to be investigated. If the charge is true, the member charged ought to be expelled from this House. And, if it is not true, the slanderer ought to be
punished. I have, therefore, moved to refer the Speak: if they think it
worthy of investigation, they will ask for the requisite authority to send for persons and papers. Mr. TUCKER, of Virginia, regretted, exceedingly, the existence of such a case as now occupied the atten. tion of the House; but, since it did exist, he thought the course to be pursued was a very plain one. He thought the House could not hesitate to grant the inquiry which had been asked. He recollected that last year a similar request had been made, by an officer of Government, and the House did appoint a committee of investigation. He was sorry that he had not heard all that fell from his honorable colleague, (Mr. Aneher,) for whom he entertained very great respect; but whose argument, as he had so imperfectly heard it, he would not attempt to answer. He only hoped that the House would, in this case, act consistent with itself. He considered every member of the House as being, in some sort, the property of the nation. A member rises in his place, and informs us that charges have been made against him, which go deeply to implicate his character.
the source whence these charges have proceeded, entitles them to consideration. They are preferred by a member of this House, in all respects on a footing with ourselves; and if they are investigated, it may turn out, both that the charges are false, and that the member who brought them forward, acted innocently in so doing. Mr. GAZLAY, of Ohio, said he should not now determine as to the right or duty of the House generally to institute a committee of inquiry of a personal nature. A case might be presumed, he imagined, which would call for such a course, but he much doubted whether it could, in relation to the object, and under the circumstances with which this was brought forward. The time was one of general and national excitement. A great national question was up and about to be determined— the election of a President. At this moment, when we owe to ourselves, when the nation has a right to demand of us, a cool, unmixed, and undivided attention to this object, he thought it highly improper, he might say, dangerous, to commingle with it extraneous and personal inquiries; inquiries which must inflame, but could give no lights or balance to the mind; inquiries which might well increase our prejudices, but ...i. certainly remove none. He thought it our duty to put down and to keep back subjects of this character, It was personal, and not national; it would have more the appearance of persecution than of inquiry. He thought it inconsistent with the character of the nation, as well as that of the House, to permit the inquiry, at this moment. He felt that higher considerations than personal ones should induce us to postpone the question; during which he did not believe that the character of the gentleman would be at all impaired in the public estimation, by the postponement, and certainly not as much as that of the nation might by the inquiry. He was convinced that no good, public or private, could result from the inquiry. *: would, therefore, move to lay the motion on the tribie. Mr. WRIGHT, of Ohio, said he was not certain that he understood the gentleman who opposed the proposition to raise a committee in the case under consideration; but if he did, the opposition rests on the hypothesis that the letter alluded to, and avowed on the floor, by a member of the House, contained no charge of any of. fence, or of any specific act done, which, if found true, would lead to any ulterior measure, in relation to the accused, or, if found false, to any like measure, in relation to the accuser—that there is no specific charge here, of any act done, but all rested on common rumor, of acts not yet consummated—still resting in intention, which could not properly be investigated, until ripened into act. Sir, I have no objection to consider the matter in this point of view, and to meet gentlemen on their own ground. I will undertake to show to the House, that
The Speaker's flppeal to the House.
Surely, the smallest boon we can grant is an inquiry The respectability of
w - 468 [Feb. 4, 1825.
there is, in the publication, a direct charge against the presiding officer of this House, of having entered into a corrupt bargain, in relation to his vote, and that of his friends, on a question pending, devolved upon us by the constitution, of the highest and most important character that can devolve upon us, and which is soon to be decided. If I do this, sir, it will be idle to say, we can take no measures to investigate such a charge, until the intended corrupt act is consummated; because the questian is hastening on, and we should free ourselves from the effect of the corrupt bargain, and not suffer it to pollute our legislative Hall, and be carried into the elec. tion, where it is intended to operate, before we can move. when it has produced its effect, it will be of no use to take any step in relation to it. The writer of the letter, sir, commences by stating his object, in writing, to be, to give information “of one of the most disgraceful transactions that ever covered with infamy the republican ranks.” A transaction so base, that it laid the axe at the very root of the tree of liberty. He proceeds “to give a brief account of such a bargain, as can only be equalled by the famous Burt conspiracy of 1801,” and then goes on to state, 1st, That, “for some time past, the friends of Mr. Clay had hinted, that they, like the Swiss, would fight for those who would pay best. 2d, That overtures were said to have been made by the friends of Adams, of the Department of State, to Mr. Clay, for his aid to elect Mr. Adams. 3d, That the friends of Clay informed the friends of Jackson of the overture, and hinted, that, for the some offer from Jackson's friends, they would close with them, but none of the friends of Jackson would descend to such mean barter and sale. 4th, That Jackson's friends did not believe that the contract would be ratified by the members from the states who had voted for Clay; but that it was the writer's opinion from the first, “that men possessing any honorable principles, could not, nor would not, be transferred like the planter does his negroes, or the farmer, his team and horses.” But, he says, “contrary to this expectation, it is now ascertained, to a certainty, that Henry Clay has transferred his interest to John Quincy Adams, and, in consideration of this abandonment of duty to his constituents, it is said and believed, should this unholy coalition prevail, Clay is to be appointed Se cretary of State.” The charges contained in this letter, against Mr. Clay’s friends, among whom I am proud to acknowledge myself, I shall not now notice, as I consider those charges only incidentally before you; but the charge against him is clear and explicit—one that I think no man can mistake, as positive in its character as any one could wish. It is, “that it was ascertained to a certainly that H. Clay had, by mean bargain and sale, transferred his interest to Adams, and, in consideration of that abandonment of duty to his constituents, if the unholy coalition st::ceeds, Mr. Clay is to be appointed Secretary of State.” Is this no charge imputing conduct to the Speaker, in his representative character, calling for the interposition of the power of this House, or in any way affecting its dignity? Perhaps no language is so suitable to give a character to the charge as that of the letter writer him: self. I will present you his own character and opinion of the charge nearly in his own words. He characterises the contract imputed, as predicated on an abandonment of duty, (by Mr. Clay,) to his constituents: as an unhol coulition: as a mean barter and sale, of the character of a transfer, by a master of his negroes, or by a planter of his team and horses: as equalled only by the famous Burr conspiracy of 1801: as the most disgraceful transaction that ever covered with infamy the republican ranks: so base as to lay the axe at the very root of the uree of liberty : a transaction no men possessing any honorable princi. ple would submit to. Surely, no gentleman will say that