« ForrigeFortsett »
a continuance of harmony between the Executive and Legislature.
In this session of Congress, the Secretary of the Treasury first reported those fiscal arrangements in support of publick credit, which, in their progress to establishment, were the occasion of warm and animated debates in the Legislature, fully displayed the discordance of political opinion among the members, and excited that party spirit which has since convulsed the United States.
The President readily gave his sanction to these fiscal establishments of the Legislature, yet by this act he seemed not to lose the good opinion of the opposition; the blame and odium fell upon the Secretary of the Treasury, and upon the northern federal members of Congress.
The incessant application to business had a visible effect upon the constitution of the President, and at this period he was for a second time attacked with a violent disease, which put his life in imminent danger. At the close of the session, therefore, he determined to give himself a short relaxation in a visit to Mount Vernon. He first made a tour to Rhode Island, which not being then in the Union, had not been included in his visit to New-England; and at Newport and Provi. dence he received every attention which affection and respect could dictate.
This retirement was of essential service to his health, and at the close of autumn he returned to Philadelphia to meet the Legislature ; to which place Congress had adjourned, at the close of the year 1790. At this time the President noticed the rising disturbances in Europe, and advised to those precautionary measures, which had a tendency to secure to the United States the benefit of their commerce. Mentioning to the House the sufficiency of the established revenue to the purposes to which it was appropriated, he expressed his hope “ that it would be a favourite
policy with them not merely to secure the interest of the debt funded, but as far, and as fast as the growing resources of the country will permit, to exonerate it of the principal itself.” The address was closed in the following impressive manner.
« In pursuing the various and weighty business of the present session, I indulge the fullest persuasion that your consultations will be marked with wisdom, and animated by the love of country. In whatever belongs to my duty, you shall have all the co-operation which an undiminished zoal for its welfare can inspire. It will be happy for us both, and our best reward, if by a successful administration of our respective trusts, we can make the established government more and more instrumental in promoting the good of our fellow citizens, and more and more the object of their attachment and confidence."
The respect and confidence of the Legislature in the Executive appeared on this occasion without diminution; although one of the measures of the President was for the first time condemned. A member from Georgia pronounced the treaty with the Creek Indians to be a violation of the rights of that state.
In this session of Congress the Bank of the United States was established. Its constitutionality had been deeply argued in the Legislative body, and came before the Executive as a question involving the highest national interest. It was reviewed in the Cabinet with the deliberation it merited. The Council, on this occasion, as on most others, were divided. Messrs. Jefferson and Randolph expressed as their decided opinion that the law was unconstitutional. Messrs. Hamilton and Knox were fully convinced of its constitutionality. The President called upon each member of his Council for the reasons of his opinion in writing. These he maturely weighed, and being convinced himself that the law was constitutional, put his signature to it.
With the 3d of March, 1791, terminated the period of the first Congress.
President WASHINGTON having made the necessary arrangements, and appointed an Executive Council to attend to the business of the government, soon after the close of the session, commenced a journey to the Southern States. On his way he stopped at the Potomack, and, pursuant to the powers with which Congress had vested him, marked out the site of the Federal City, designed as the permanent seat of government. In the course of this tour he received the same general expressions of love and veneration for his cha. racter, and of confidence in his government, which he had experienced in his northern circuit. And he derived great satisfaction in contemplating the improve ments of the country, and remarking the evidences of attachment to the Federal Government. The feelings excited by this journey are fully expressed in the following letter, written after his return to Philadelphia.
“In my late tour through the Southern States, I experienced great satisfaction in secing the good effects of the general government in that part of the union. The people at large have felt the security which it gives, and the equal justice which it administers to them. The Farmer, the Merchant, and the Mechanick, have seen their several interests attended to, and from thence they unite in placing a confidence in their Representatives, as well as in those in whose hands the execution of the laws is placed. Industry has there taken place of idleness, and economy of dissipation. Two or three years of good crops, and a ready market for the produce of their lands, have put every one in good humour; and in some instances, they even ima pute to the government what is due only to the good ness of Providence.
" The establishment of publick credit is an immense point gained in our national concerns. This I believe exceeds the expectation of the most sanguine among
us; and a late instance, unparalleled in this country, has been given of the confidence reposed in our measures, by the rapidity with which the subscriptions to the Bank of the United States were filled. In two hours after the books were opened by the commissioners, the whole number of shares were taken up, and four thousand more applied for than were allowed by the institution. This circumstance was not only pleasing as it related to the confidence in government, but also as it exhibited an unexpected proof of the resources of our citizens."
The hearts of all Americans were with General WASHINGTON at this period; but notwithstanding these publick appearances, there was in fact much hostility to the government at the Southward.
On the 24th of October, 1791, the President met the second Congress in the established form.
During this session a great national question came before the Legislature which the President was compelled ultimately to decide.
The constitution provides that there shall not be more than one Representative to thirty thousand inhabitants. An enumeration having been made, the House of Representatives passed a bill providing for each state to send one Representative for every thirty thousand of its population. This ratio in several instances leaving a large fraction, operated unequally on the small states. The Senate, to cure the evil, assumed & new principle of apportionment. They found the whole population of the United States, and, dividing this aggregate number by thirty thousand, took the quotient as the number of Representatives, and then apportioned this number upon the several states according to their population ; to which the House concurred. When the President had the bill before him for his signature, he took the opinion of his Cabinet upon the constitutionality of the arrangement.
Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Randolph thought the bill unconstitutional.
General Knox was undecisive, and Colonel Hamilton conceived that the expression of the Constitution might be applied to the United States, or to the several states, and thought it best to coincide with the construction of the Legislature. After due deliberation, the President thought the bill unconstitutional, and not hesitating to do his duty, he returned it with the following objections.
GENTLEMEN OF THE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, “I have maturely considered the act, passed by the two Houses, entitled 'an act for the apportionment of Representatives among the several states according to the first enumeration,' and I return it to your House, wherein it originated, with the following objections.
“ First, The Constitution has prescribed that Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, and there is no proportion or division which, applied to the respective numbers of the states, will yield the number and allotment of Representatives proposed by the bill.
“ Secondly, The Constitution has also provided, that the number of Representatives shall not exceed one for thirty thousand, which restriction is by fair and ob. vious construction, to be applied to the separate and respective numbers of the states, and the bill has allotted to eight of the states more than one for thirty thousand."
The adopted mode was in consequence of the dissent of the Executive laid aside, and, in a new bill, a Representative for every thirty-three thousand to each state was substituted.
The first Presidency of General WASHINGTON closed without other occurrences of great magnitude. The last session of the second Congress was violent and impassioned, and the members separated in a state of great irritation, but neither they nor their constituents had as yet impeached the motives of the Presidenti