« ForrigeFortsett »
tention, at the present moment, of going into an argument to show, that Spain exercises only nominal jurisdiction over Cuba; but, if the House would indulge him by referring them to a committee, he pledged himself to prove that Spain does not, nor has not for many years past, exercised complete jurisdiction over that Island. He would mention only one fact. In the autumn of 1822, an English squadron anchored in the port of Havana, bringing an order to the Captain General to cooperate with the British force in suppressing piracy.— After a long delay, the Captain General informed the British commander that he could not comply with the order, as he had no disposable force. At that time there were three corvettes, a gun brig, and four schooners, in the port of Havana, armed and equipped, and ready for sea, and 5,000 men in garrison. A single remark, sir, in relation to the second resolution. After long and anxious reflection on this subject, Mr. P. said, he had brought his mind to the most perfect conviction, that there is but one remedy for this enormous evil; and that is, the establishment of a different government in the Island of Cuba. If the power were lodged in the hands of the Creoles, of the Americans of Cuba, my life for it, you would hear no more of the piracies of that Island, than of piracies being committed along the coast of the United States. There are many reasons why this government cannot take any measures having that tendency, without exciting the jealousy and fears of other powers. Whatever is done ought to be done in concert with them. He was aware that, by a proper application of our naval means, the pirates may be held in check, and our commerce be protected.— But, sir, a measure of this sort, to be continued for any length of time, will be attended with great waste of life in that fatal climate. In order to give the House some idea of the incessant vigilance this service requires, he would state, very briefly, the manner of conducting these piratical expeditions. A coasting vessel leaves the harbor of Havana or Matanzas, having on board not more than four or five men, and, by that means, eludes suspieion. On the coast she receives her complement of men, who put off in small boats and canoes. They require no other arms than those they carry always about them. The dagger is the only arm of the pirate. Thus equipped, they attack the first American, English, or French vessel they meet—take possession of her, take out the goods, and scuttle or set fire to her, after murdering her crew. The pirates then return to the shore in their boats, and instantly proceed to Havana and Matanzas, where notice of the prize is given to the merchants—vessels are immediately cleared out coastwise, with a guia, or permit, specifying the articles taken— they proceed to that part of the coast where the pirates have their hiding places, receive the goods on board, and proceed on their voyage. This is done with the connivance of some of the officers of the customs at both ports—the goods are transferred to the shops, and are publicly sold. All this may be prevented by the steady employment of a large naval force, and with the exertion of great vigilance and activity on the part of the officers engaged in that service. But the instant our squadrons are withdrawn, the piracies will be renewed. He would not detain the ilouse any longer at this time. He hoped when the Presidential election was over, time would be accorded to act on this most important subject. He was induced most carnestly to desire it, from an account he
had seen yesterday, published in a Charleston paper, of the murder of the crew of a vessel, that had been wrecked on the Keys, near Matanzas." They had escaped a watery grave, and, when within reach of what ought to have been a friendly shore, they were overtaken by pirates, who, without any hope of plunder, murdered these men in cold blood, to wreak their vengeance on the enemies of Spain. In speaking of these atrocities, it ought to be understood, that the Creoles, the Americans of the Island of Cuba, have nothing to do with them. Their hands are not stained with the blood of our citizens. They are not polluted with the bribes of pirates. They derive no profit from this most infamous traffic. Mr. P. moved to refer the resolutions to the same committee to which had been referred a bill from the Committee on Naval Affairs for the Suppression of Piracy. Mr. FORSYTH remarked, that the resolutions submitted by the gentleman from South Carolina, (Mr. Pounsett,) referred to a subject respecting which this House, as long ago as the 20th of December last, had called on the President of the United States to communicate, so far as might be consistent with the public good, the correspondence which had been held with Spain, and with the Governors of the Spanish posses. sions in America. No answer to this call had yet been laid before the House. It was, therefore, useless, he had almost said idle, to make a reference of these resolutions, until that answer should be received. The first resolution recommends to the House to say to the Chief Magistrate, You ought to hold a communication with the Governor of Cuba. Why, sir, is it possible that any man in his sober senses can suppose that the Executive can have been so lost to all sense of duty as not to have made this communication long ago? The documents which are already before us, (said Mr.Fonsrra,) are suf. ficient to refute such an idea. They shew, conclusively, that some correspondence has been held with the Governor of Cuba. Sir, I object to the resolutions, for another reason. They go on the principle, that, by a correspondence with the Governor of Cuba, you can make Spain or the Spanish dominions, accountable.— This is not correct. The Governor can only answer that correspondence, according to the subordinate authority he possesses, and the result will be, that he will refer to the Spanish Government. Let me, on this subject, put a case to the gentleman from South Carolina. Suppose a foreign power— At this point, Mr. FORSYTH was interrupted by the Speaker, who pronounced that the discussion was, in the present stage of the business, not in order. Mr. FORSYTH then moved that the resolutions lie on the table; which was agreed to, and they were ordered to be printed. Mr. R. H. WILDE, a member elect from Georgia, appeared, was sworn, and took his seat.
ELECTION OF PRESIDENT.
On motion of Mr. WRIGHT, the House then went into committee of the whole on the state of the Union, Mr. TAYLOR, of New York, in the chair, and resumed the consideration of the rules (reported by a committee) to be observed by the House in conducting the election of the President.
And, the question being on striking out the last clause
* Ertract of a letter from. Matanzas, dated 13th January.
“We have accounts here of a horrid deed being committed by the Pirates.
It appears that the brig Betsey, Hilton, from
Wiscasset, for Matanzas, was wrecked on the Double Headed Shot Keys, about 10 days ago. The Captain and crew fortunate
ly saved their lives by landing on one of the Keys.
They had got as far as Santa Cruz in a fishing boat, when they were fallen
in with by a piratical boat, and all murdered, excepting one man, who fortunately was knocked overboard, and reached the shore. It is reported the piratical boat and crew were afterwards captured by a British vessel of war. There is much ex
eitement here on the subject.”
of the third rule, which provides that the galleries may ment, to begin a jacobin and end a tyrant. We are told be cleared at the request of the delegation of any one we must bow to the will of the people. I grant it. But state- I shall look for the indications of that will to a source
Mr. MANGUM said, that, when the committee rose which is unerring—to the constitutional indication of it. the other day, as he presumed for his personal accom- It is curious to remark how defective this poor, tattered modation, he had well nigh concluded the remarks constitution of ours is, according to gentlemen’s notions which it was his intention to submit on this subject.— of responsibility. They say we must vote with the peo. He felt deeply sensible of the polite attention of the ple, (what people *) and yet the constitution guaranties committee, and the best return in his power to make for to us the mode of voting by ballot, in the exercise of their kindness was to refrain from trespassing again too which, the vote of each delegation may be profoundly far on their patience. locked up in their own bosoms, and no human eye, not
This subject having already occupied a disproportion. even the Argus eye of jealousy itself, can detect for ate space of the time of this House, he should not again whom that delegation voted. There are four states in take up the argument, but only submit a few general the Union, represented, in this House, each, by one observations, which he had designed to offer on the member. Those gentlemen, according to the rules esformer occasion. He knew full well the immense ad- tablished on a former occasion, and ccording to the vantages which gentlemen have when they address rules reported on this, may hide their secret from all the themselves not to the understanding and the judgment, world, if they choose. They have nothing to do but to but make ardent appeals to the prejudices and passions make duplicate ballots, and drop one into each box, of the people. The people's rights, and the sovereign- among twenty-three other votes, and how are their balty of the people!—the very finest and most popular lots to be known, to be identified ? How does this comthemes for declamation' He felt the great difficulty of port with gentlemen's notions How defective is the
being heard, coolly and dispassionately, at the bar of reason, at the moment when the passions are stimulated into tumult, and worked up to a pitch of phrenzy. In this country, as we have seen from the foundation of the government, whenever a new party was about to organize itself, or a new faction to spring into existence, its very first breath was breathed in a holy and fervent love for the people; its ardor and its devotion to the public weal, transcended only by the purity and disinterestedness of motives. I confess, sir, that I have lived long enough to distrust these ardors. When I see the frosts of age dissolving under the warm glowings incident to youth, and the patriot of sixty entering the lists with the very flower and chivalry of the land, endeavoring to outstrip them in demonstrations of love and devotion to the people, I begin to look about me; for I fear mischief, or suspect treachery. I need not refer you only to our own history, but the history of other countries, and other ages, discloses the fact, that many of the bloodiest ty. rants that ever disgraced humanity, began their career by fawning on the people, and sedulously and assiduously courting their favor. It has been remarked by the gentleman from South Carolina, that all sovereign power resides in the people, and that every agent in authority must act in obedience to that will. The abstract proposition is evidently true; but the difficulty arises in the application of it to the case in hand. How is the will of the people to be ascer. tained 2 Is it to be derived from the county meetings, town meetings, publications, and rumors 2 Are we to resort to these loose, unsatisfactory, and contradictory indications of the public will Or, shall we resort to the constitutional indication—to that expression which has been made through legitimate organs ? If the latter, it is apparent that a large majority have voted against either of the candidates. What, then, is our duty I would again answer, to select according to the best dictates of our understandings. And yet, says the gentleman, this doctrine is too strong for Revolutionary France, it would have been repudiated under the reign of Napoleon. Mr. M. said it was a little curious to remark the striking coincidence between the early professions of Bonapate, and those with which we are now daily saluted. He could hope that a coincidence should never be made to exist in this country, in any other r". spect. For what was the sequel in the case of Napoleon Though his first love was the love of the People, and though he bowed with the profoundest respect to their will, yet he flattered, he coaxed, and he courted them, until he placed his foot upon their necks, and crushed their liberties with the most frightful military despotism that the world ever saw. This is the natural order of things in a free govern.
constitution according to their views! Instead of requir. ing members to vote in a manner to prevent the practice of fraud and deceit, that same constitution becomes “particeps criminis,” by throwing the mantle over deeds of darkness and crime, by shielding them from exposure to the vengeance of disappointed ambition, or the scorn and hatred of a betrayed country. There have been some politicians silly enough to imagine that the framers of the constitution looked afar off, and either dreamed or believed that occasions might arise when this provision would be found most salutary, that the safety of the republic might depend upon the ignorance of the tyrant where to direct his blows. For myself, however, I hope, said Mr. M. that I may be permitted to say, that I hate mystery—I hate all concealments in the discharge of a public duty; and shall be one of the last to shrink from the severest scrutiny into the manner in which I may have discharged it. I would scorn the use of the mantle. I advert to these considerations with a view of showing with how many difficulties this subject is beset, and how arduous would be the task of framing a theory, according to gentlemen's views, that would harmonize in its practical operations with constitutional provisions on the subject. Sir, it seems to me that the true conception of the framers of the constitution is this: that the representatives in this House would come immediately from the people—they are part of the people—presumed to be men of some character, connected with the community from which they emanate by a thousand ties; character, respect, family, children, a common interest, a common destiny. In a word, identified with that community in habits, feelings, sentiments, &c.; and, that when the result, so much to be decrecated, of the Presidential election being cast upon this House, shall happen, that all these ties and considerations form a sufficient guarantee that a wise, honest, and judicious selection will be made. This view, I think, said Mr. M. is conformable with the theory of the constitution. What are the cotemporaneous expositions of the constitution on this subject In the work entitled the Federalist—a work written by some of the ablest men who were in the convention, and which is resorted to by the ablest constitutional lawyers, as high and grave authority, I find the following opinion: “But as a majority of votes might not always happen to centre in one man, and as it might be unsafe to permit less than a majority to be conclusive, it is provided, that in such case, the House of Representatives shall select out of the candidates, who shall have the five (now changed to “three,”) highest numbers of votes, the mars who, in their opinio, s, may be best qualified.”
And yet, it is said, that these doctrines would be odious in revolutionary France—they are too strong for the reign of Napoleon. Such are some of the difficulties into which gentlemen are deluded and bewildered by an overweening attachment to their new-born theories -theories that have sprung into life from a brain highly excited by political contests—theories that are cherished with all the love that the mother bestows on her rickety bantling. But, sir, if these theories may not be deduced from the letter of the constitution, may they not result from the philosophy of the constitution of which we have heard in this debate 2 Yes, sir, the philosophy of the constitution' That philosophy which, I fear, is to arm this great Government with that stupendous power which is to sink our state sovereignties into mere corporations— That power which has prostrated some of these barriers that the wise men of both the old parties recognized--That power which is incessantly, most fearfully, and alariningly increasing. Yes, sir, the philosophy of the constitution That philosophy which was reserved for the ingenuity and astuteness of modern times to discover; and of which that great and wise man, Patrick Henry—and a wise man he was—in all his awful vaticinatious never dreamed of Yes, sir, it is by courting these sovereign people seduously and arduously, that all Jacobins begin their career. The people are sovereigns—but they are sovereigns in minority: they never have, nor will they ever come to the crown, whatever some of their flatterers may doand yet they have in full enjoyment one of the brightest and most undoubted attributes of sovereignty—the fattery of their courtiers. I trust 1 may say, and truly too, that I have as profound respect for the will of the people, fairly expressed,as any man; and would preserve those interests committed to my charge as I would the apple of my eye. I would not look to the shouts of the multitude for the opinions of the people, but I look to their opinion as fairly and constitutionally expressed. To this 1 respond, to this I an obedient. I regret that I have detained the committee so long on this subject. As regards the question immediately under discussion, I would not turn upon my heel for a decision of it, either one way or the other. Mr. J. S. BARBOUR, of Virginia, said, that a sense of duty made it necessary for him to offer to the committee a few remarks; and in doing so, he should but express an entire concurrence in opinion with the gentleman from North Carolina, (Mr. MANgum,) that a new zeal had infused itself into our deliberations, resulting from the excitement at this moment pervading both this House and the country. He trusted that the fervor of this excitement would not warp the judgment of the committee, or divert it from the duty of calm inquiry, so imperatively enjoined on it. The first question presented to us I take to be this: Is it right to indulge the intense anxiety now felt by the public, in permitting an inspection of the proceedings of this House, when constitutionally employed in selecting a Chief Magistrate The history of that country whose precedents have supplied most of the forms of our deliberations, discloses to us the existence of controversies between the parliament and the people, on questions of giving publicity to the transactions of the former. It was deemed, and accordingly punished, as a breach of privilege, to publish the speeches or votes of members, and that, too, on the ground that those proceedings were matter of which the public had no right to be conversant. At the period of forming our constitution these demands from the people, and their denial by the parliament of England, had made an appropriate impression in this country. To secure this right beyond the reach of cavil, and to supply the people with this safe-guard for the responsibility of their Representatives, claimed the attention of
the wise framers of our political fabric. To secure this right, it is provided that the people have a just claim to know what Congress is doing, and that a journal of their proceedings shall, from time to time, be published, together with the Yeas and Nays, upon the demand of one fifth of the members present. The usage of Congress supplies us with the best commentary upon this constitutional text. Its deliberations have been open to public inspection, with the exception of proceedings where high national considerations forbade immediate disclosure, and the precedent of 1801, which I think has been clearly demonstrated to merit but little attention. ls there anything, then, in the duty now cast upon the House by the happening of the contingency provided for in the constitution, to distinguish it from ordinary acts of legislation, and to demand an unusual measure of safety or precaution. Can gentlemen imagine, for a moment, that our deliberations will be overawed or, that any intimidation, whatever, will influence members in discharging this high function ? It is a suspicion fraught with injustice to ourselves, as well as to the people. Throw over your acts the veil of mystery, and what is the result All within is pure, and the members are engaged in the fearless fulfilment of the trusts reposed in them. Will it be so, sir, without 2 I apprehend not. Distrust will fill the public mind, and jealousy will fire its passions; and when these overtake us, it will be in vain for us to rely upon the conscious rectitude of our actions, and the dignity of silent deliberation, to shield us from disrespect, or the suspicion of ignoble conduct and unworthy motives. But I understand, from the atgument of the gentleman from Delaware, (Mr. M'LANE,) that, in making the selection, we act independently of the people, and, as a necessary deduction, that they have no right to witness it. I can never yield my assent to such a proposition. It has been successfully combatted, I think, by the gentleman from South Carolina, (Mr. M’Duffie.) With his opinions in relation to the rights of the people over our ordinary legislation, I must also express my dissent. He informs us that the constitution has vested the legislative powers of the United States in Congress—and asks, “What are the ingredients of legislation ? Argument, inquiry, and deliberation.” Sir, when the gentleman presented so forcible an argument in another branch of this question, upon the influence. of popular will, could he not suppose that this, too, would necessarily enter into our acts of legislation ? If tyrants, as he clearly shewed, armed with power, are constrained to regard the will of the people, how much more forcibly should that argument apply to national legislation in a Government whose very basis is public sentiment? The will of the people is in this country, most especially, the main spring of all political institution. This, alone, can with us give impulse to permanent legislation. I cannot agree with the gentleman from North Carolina, that the wise men who gave form to the constitution, are against me. The journals of that day reveal a singular incident relating to this question, which may seem to array against me a most distinguished authority. When the constitution was in progress, amid the jealousies of its enemies and the anxieties of its friends, numerous amendments were proposed by the several State conventions. Among these, Virginia sought to engraft upon it a provision, that would secure, at all times, the right to instruct Representatives. In the first Congress that subsequently assembled, an illustrious man, then representing that state, and who has since thrown a lustre over our character in the various acts of his public life, proposed this amendment, with an omission of so much as claimed this right of instruction. I am not prepared to receive this as evidence of his own enlightened view of the subject. The constitution, with all its amendments, is the offspring of a spirit of compromise. This alteration, (by his proposition,) of the expressed wishes
of a convention in whose deliberations he was himself a clear and steady light, owes its birth, in all rational probability, to the same parent. A plain refutation may readily be given, (in my humble judgment,) of all doubts that cluster round this question. In whose hands is the sovereignty of this Union reposited 2 The Constitution supplies the answer: In those of the people. And what is the legislative power It is but a seminal principle which fructifies in those enactments, denominated law. Sir, the writers upon jurisprudence, inform us, that Law is a rule of action emanating from a sovereign power, commanding what is right, and forbidding what is wrong. If, then, the people who make the constituent body, are admitted to be sovereign, and each Representative expresses the sense of his constituents upon every vote he may give, in the passage of any law, do you not obtain a rule of action emanating from the sovereign power of the United States, and filling up the measure of the definition I have just recited The gentleman from South Carolina asserts for the people a controlling influence, in performing the duty required of this House, when the contingency presents itself, in which a selection is to be made here of the Chief Magistrate, because the Constitution recognizes in the people the power and the capacity to make the election. There is a vice in this argument which I think is but apparent, or which may be easily resolved into our difference in the application of terms. The Constitution contemplated an election, by the people. But, that it was dangerous to give a power .# such magnitude, to less than a majority of the whole who voted. And what is the remedy provided for a failure so to choose? The people are scattered over a vast extent of country : to assemble them together is impossible. The theory of the Constitution then requires, as the most practicable mode, if a popular majority cannot be obtained, that a federative majority shall determine, combining with it the popular influence, by requiring a selection from the highest on the people's list. This is not the only security provided by the system, to give effect to public will. Had it designed to make your President a federative officer, the choice, in the second instance, might have been given the States in their corporate capacities. Not so, sir. The choice is to be made by the House of Representatives, the direct and immediate dependants of the people, but that, in selecting, they shall vote by states. It was always intended that he should be the President of the People, not of the states, nor the crea ture of this House, and all the securities which the Con. stitution could furnish to assure this end, seems, in my view, to point that way. It is true, they may be inadequate to the purpose, but that it was designed, cannot admit of doubt. This House, in its several state delegations, cannot be considered as the depository of the sovereignty of the States, but as the Representatives of the people, not responsible to the States, but to the Districts which they severally represent. Would it not then be a departure from all the checks and principles of the Constitution, designed to secure the responsibility of public agents, to look upon members here as representing the States, in this contingency, to whom they owe no obligation, and as not representing the people to whom all accountability is secured by the forms of the Constitution. If this conclusion be a just derivative from the view taken, what is the pending obligation in making the choice A sense of political duty will give the immediate reply. The President is dé. signed to be the Chief Magistrate of the nation; the appointing body is chosen by the people, and the public will points to the path of safety when it points to the path of duty. It is your duty, because you are chosen by those who have the inceptive right of making the election, and this course justifies and responds to the high trusts con
Election of President.
[Feb. 7, 1825.
Safety results from it, because the magistrate so appointed reflects the wishes of the whole mass of the people, and will be the faithful guardian of their rights, their honor, and their independence. Elect upon these principles, and you constitute a President who unites public confidence and respect. He is clothed with a shield for your protect on at home, and armed with the sword of retributive justice to punish foreign aggression. Choose him upon the other principle, he is the creature of the Legislature, and not the servant of the people; dependent upon you, and responsible to you, what security is left for the preservation of our popular system Can he combine the affections of the people when his appointment is in pursuance, not of their will, but in manifest contravention of it? You may, indeed, have given him shape and form, and encircled him with the trappings of power and office, but he is not touched with the vital element which alone can give him being. Is he surrounded with the affections of a grateful and confiding people, which makes him the servant “ of the people for the people's sake "No, sir; he is pursued by their fears and trammelled with their jealousy. The wishes of the nation driven contemptuously before him, while all the calamities of misrule follow in the rear. Nor does the evil stop here. Whoever the individual may be, lie can be but man. Filled with the frailties that belong to his condition, will he not seek to convert his pillow of thorns into a bed of roses, and nieliorate his condition by seeking to ensure a re-appointme; to All the purposes of corruption will be essayed. The creature of this House, deriving being from it, amenable by impeachment to the Senate, who, with him, hold the appointing power of the Government, throughout the extended sphere of patronage, what, in some coming age, may not occur, when corruption, which grows with our years, shall have sapped the soundation on which all our purity rests The purse of the nation in the hands of this House, may be made to act upon the Senate, and they, in return, to distribute among the Representatives or their instruments, all the offices, lucrative or honorable. What is the responsibility of such a President * Not in the impeaching power of the Senate—for this House, in which it must originate, and there, where he is to be tried, are his co-partners in guilt. Sir, to use the language of an eloquent gentleman on this floor, it was contemplated some years past, “to set up a pageant under color of law,” in the chair of our Chief Magistrate. He would have been the President of the Legislature, not of the People. And does any man believe, for a moment, that such a thing could have administered the Government He would either have fallen a victim to the popular rage, which such an act would have lifted into tempest, or, had he weight enough to sustain himself, the liberties of his country would have been crushed, under his influence. And yet the gentleman from North Carolina considers such principles as these, jacobinical doctrines. [Mr. MANGUM here observed, in explanation, that he had never said that these were the doctrines of jacobins. What he had said was this—that all jacobins began o with very ardent professions of love to the people. How does the explanation of the gentleman affect the principle. . These doctrines were professed by jacobins, and with thern Bonaparte became the despot of France. Are such principles the less just among our sober reflecting people, because jacobins and Napoleon prosessed them We are told that “hypocrisy is the homage which vice pays to virtue,” and it is as true in politics as in morals. If others have lost their freedom by being duped with such a deceptious avowal of just opinions, shall we abandon them, when they have already proved the sheet anchor of our safety It would be easy to retort, by saying that, if jacobins have professed these principles, the doctrines of the gentleman are
those upon which despotism has acted. If you view
makes the safety of the nation the supreme law, he should make a President of one who, upon the best evidence before him, operating upon his honest judgment, appeared to combine the largest share of public affection and national support. The predilections of a part must, in the end, yield to the wishes of the whole. The gentleman from North Carolina tells you that, according to the argument of the gentleman from South Carolina, you would fail to make a Chief Magistrate; and yet, in the course he speaks of pursuing himself, he would be conducted to the same result. He tells you that, for himself, he stands on an isthmus where the waves may lash in vain; unawed by fear, and unflattered by hope, he will not depart from his ground. What is to be the consequence, but the same catastrophe which he humbly thought was ascribed to the principles of the gentleman from South Carolina. We are further asked, how are we to ascertain the will of the people The forms of the constitution, framed in the wisdom of departed patriots, must be taken as the surest indications. If these are wrong, then is the constitution; resting on a vicious principle. It is somewhat difficult, in this country, amid both the freedom and the licentiousness of the press, to mistake the signs of the times. He would not seek to propagate theoretical principles, to which he would not in practice conform, Those who sent him here knew that he would have preferred two other candidates to the one who is their choice. He had no time to hesitate, with his limited intelligence. He could not presume to put his judgment
of Government, were deeply read in the history of past in resistance to the mass of intelligence in the forty
times, and they scanned, with prophetic eye, the coming thousand electing him.
events of futurity. The mournful lot of all the Governments instituted for the professed purpose of ensuring the liberty and happiness of man, filled them with apprehensions of danger to our new experiment. The opinion was received, that a republican form of Government was suited only to a small extent of country; and in the examples of past times, they found that intrigue, faction, and corruption, were the most deadly enemies of democracy. Against their assaults they sought to plant round the pillars of this new and experimental system, every possible guard. They contended that, when the popular will was to be gathered from a widely extended territory, faction and intrigue, always limited in their theatre of action, would not be able to expand their scope over this vast confederacy. Corruption, usually secret in its operations, could not show itself in the face of day, and spread its influence over the same expanse. Ia securing the power of electing a Chief Magistrate to the great body of the people, scattered over so vast a territory, it was believed that such only would be chosen who possessed those commanding talents, and those sublime virtues, that are the subjects of universal admiration. By adopting the principle of the gentleman from Delaware, and vesting in this body an irresponsible power of selection, you banish this great safe-guard of the constitution. You force the election into that small space upon which full scope is furnished for the operation of these baneful enemies of our free institutions. Upon the theory I have sought to advocate, in which members are the mere organs through which public sentiment is disclosed upon this floor, this great conservative principle is maintained in all its purity. The honorable gentleman from North Carolina says that, by this course, no election could possibly be made. I think differently. If each representative shall, here speak the sense of his constituents, and that should not disclose on the ballot a majority of the whole, I take it that his duty would require of him by all exertions to give effect to their will. Should this be unattainable, and the last ray of expectation be extinguished in the
gloom of despair, he should cast from him the expired hope, and yielding to the greater principle, which Vol. I.-32
It had been in vain for him to tell them of his predilections and high estimate of others. They presented him their candidate, of whom they said, his genius was his fortune, and his virtues his arts, his past service a pledge for the future, and by their sense required him to give that candidate his support. Their will was to him a law. Not a cold and dubious support should follow it, but one that would falter with the last hope. Mr. M'LANE, of Delaware, rose, and said, that he had been the unintentional cause of a debate, which he regretted now to be obliged further to prolong. If he could have foreseen the range the debate would have taken, when he briefly stated the grounds which would influence his course, he would have contented himself with a silent vote; but, unprofitable as the discussion was likely to be, he felt bound to make some reply to the observations of the gentleman from South Carolina, (Mr. M'Duffix.) That gentleman had seized upon one or two general positions, which he (Mr. M'L.) had originally advanced, to deliver, with his usual talent and adroitness, a popular harangue upon the Presidential question, which, though certainly eloquent, was any thing but an answer to the argument which Mr. M'L. had submitted. Mr. M'LANE said, he felt under no obligation to follow the gentleman through all the topics to which he had adverted, and he could but remark, that the observations of the gentleman would have been much more pertinent, it he had been making a new constitution, than in interpreting the present. Mr. M'LANI, said, it was no part of his business to inquire, whether better and more expedient provisions might have been made, or whether the will of the people could be more readily attained. It was enough for him to consider his own rights and duties under the constitution as it exists at present. The points between the gentleman from South Carolina and myself, said Mr. M'L. are few, and confined to a small compass. I contend that the immediate constituents of a member of the House of Representatives have no right to instruct him in his vote for a President, and that, though the opinion of the people of this Union, when fairly ascertained, would be entitled to great weight, it would not be absolutely imperative, but that