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istry, violation of the privileges of the House by giving him a hearing from time to time. They persevered so long and furiously that they lost all strength, and were left in a very small minority. The clause permitting this liberty passed." The only result of this debate was to change the words "digest and report" to "digest and prepare.'
Everybody knows that, notwithstanding this provision, looking to direct communication between Congress and the Treasury, no Secretary of the Treasury has ever reported to Congress in person. Many persons suppose that jealousy of the powers of the Department caused the provision to be a dead letter from the beginning. What are the ascertainable facts about the matter? The House of Representatives, shortly before the adjournment of its first session, passed a resolution that the Secretary of the Treasury be directed to prepare a plan for the support of the public credit, and report the same at its next meeting. At the opening of the. second session, the Speaker communicated a letter announcing that the Secretary of the Treasury was ready. Gerry, of Massachusetts, moved that the report be submitted in writing; but of the five members recorded as taking part in the debate, Clymer, of Pennsylvania, was the only one who expressed doubts as to the propriety of oral communication from so great an officer. Fisher Ames, the consistent friend of the Executive, thought that this particular report ought to be in writing; because the more permanent form was more likely to insure the responsibility of the Secretary, while at the same time it would be less liable to be misunderstood. This latter point was elaborated by Gerry in a closing speech. In a plan for supporting public credit, might be comprehended every species of finance. Could the human mind retain with any degree of precision objects so extensive and multifarious upon a mere oral communication? These considerations alone ought to be sufficient to induce gentlemen to agree to this proposition of making the report in writing. With this it was decided that the first of Hamilton's great reports should be submitted in writing.
It seems, from the foregoing facts, that the First Congress did not directly face the question of personal communication with the heads of departments in any of its debates. But the Second one met it squarely in a series of discussions that occurred on November 13, 14, 19 and 20, 1792. Inasmuch as it was the action taken on this occasion that has settled the practice of the government on this point, down to the present time, it is surprising that these debates have received so little notice. On November 13, 1792, while the House of Representatives was investigating the defeat of St. Clair's Indian expedition, the following resolution was introduced: "That the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of War be notified that this House intend, on Wednesday next, to take into consideration the report of the committee appointed to inquire into the causes of the failure of the late expedition under General St. Clair, to the end that they may attend the House and furnish such information as may be conducive to the due investigation of the matters stated in the said report." Eleven members spoke against the resolution, and six in favor of it; and the debate was renewed six days later, November 19, on a resolution to call upon the Secretary of the Treasury to report a plan for the reduction of the public debt, no suggestion that he should come to the House in person being included. In both debates, Madison figured as the leader of the opposition, saying that to summon the two Secretaries would introduce a precedent that would lead to perplexing and embarrassing consequences. Accordingly, he was decidedly in favor of written information. In his remarks against the resolution to call upon the Secretary of the Treasury for a plan to reduce the public debt, he set up a kind of defence for abandoning the role of chief supporter of the administration in the Lower House for that of leader of the opposition, by saying that in the infancy of the government it might be necessary to interpret the act establishing the Treasury Department with more latitude than was contemplated when it was passed but that he could see no necessity for it at present. The reason for Madison's
change of front was that he was one of the newly-developed anti-Hamilton party. The policy of the Secretary of the Treasury had by this time forced the issue that differentiated the two great political parties. The opponents of a strong central government were particularly hostile to a strong Executive. This was the reason why the Second Congress was more chary of Executive privileges than the First. In general, the enemies of the Treasury policy opposed the resolution to summon the two Secretaries to the House of Representatives; but there was one notable exception. Elbridge Gerry, who had been the most pronounced enemy of the act to establish the Treasury Department, and an opponent of the proposition to make the heads of departments removable by the President alone, said that he was surprised at the apprehensions that some gentlemen appeared to entertain of the measure to introduce the heads of departments into the House; for his part he had no such fears. The Secretaries would attend at the orders of the House merely to give such information as might be required, and not as members or ministers to influence and govern the determination of the House. The closing words might imply that if the Secretaries were coming as ministers, Mr. Gerry would be opposed to it. But in the debate six days later he made it clear that he did not fear them even in this capacity; for, if the influence of the Secretary was formidable, he conceived that it would be much more dangerous if exerted against a committee than in the whole House. Yet Gerry appears to have been the only man to see that the proposed relation might work to the advantage of the Legislature. The motion to summon the two Secretaries was defeated. Secretary Knox thereupon sent a letter to the House alluding to his anxious expectation of some act which would enable him to attend at the examination upon which they were about to enter. The failure of the proposition had added to his solicitude. Accordingly, he felt himself called upon to ask of the justice of that body that some mode might be devised whereby he might be present during the
inquiry. Nevertheless, the aggrieved Secretary, far from founding any claim upon the fact that he had already visited the House in session eight times, did not even mention it. The only action that the House took was to continue the select committee that had begun the investigation. The resolution to call upon the Secretary of the Treasury for a plan to reduce the public debt was carried.
45. DEPARTMENTAL DEALINGS WITH CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES.
The members of the Cabinet having been denied the privilege of direct communication with Congress on the floor of the Houses, an indirect method of intercourse arose, viz.: communication between the departments and the committees. Mr. L. G. McConachie speaks as follows of the development of this practice:
During Washington's Presidency members of his cabinet, notably Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury, had a marked initiative in the preparation of bills of which the House soon became jealous. March 11, 1794, Madison wrote to Jefferson: "I forgot to mention in my last that the question whether the Ways and Means should be referred to the Secretary of the Treasury, as heretofore, or to a committee, lately came on, and decided the sense of the House to be regenerated on that point." Of his own action of Dec. 21, 1795, Albert Gallatin wrote: "My first step was to have a standing committee of Ways and Means appointed. That this should not have been sooner done proves the existing bias in favor of increasing as far as possible the power of the Executive branch." Feb. 2, 1797, Speaker Dayton ruled out of order a motion of Mr. Coit that the Secretary of the Treasury be directed to bring in a bill upon imposts and tonnage. While the direct connection of the Executive with the House, and every shadow of claim to the initiation of laws, was thus early cut off, it has always subsisted to a greater or lesser degree in a voluntary way with the committees or with individuals as intermediaries. John Quincy Adams, as Monroe's Secretary of State, mentions several instances where members of Congress came to him to submit
drafts of bills that he might suggest modifications or obtain for them the opinion of the President. Certain newspaper publications of 1837 throw interesting light upon the drafting of bills in the times of Jackson and Van Buren. The Atlas and other Boston papers reported Richard Fletcher, a member of the House Ways and Means, as declaring in a speech at Faneuil Hall during the summer recess: "The Chairman of the committee steps up to the White House, and there receives from the President or the Secretary of the Treasury such bills as they wish to have passed by the House. The chairman puts the bills in his pocket; takes them to the committee without any examination; the majority of the committee approve them; the minority can do nothing; the bills are presented to the House, and received as the doings of the committee." Upon the reassembling of Congress, Chairman Churchill C. Cambreleng of the Ways and Means published in the Washington Globe a reply to this and other charges of the Boston speech. "The usage from the commencement of the government,” said he, “has been for the committee, through its chairman, to consult the head of the Department in regard to such measures as he may recommend for the consideration of Congress; for the Secretary to attend on, and confer with the committee, if invited, and to furnish drafts of bills embracing his own propositions, when requested to do so." He denied, however, the slavish acceptance of Executive measure "word for word, letter for letter, comma for comma"; cited in proof the history of several bills; and presented in parallel columns the Secretary's draft of one of them, with its modified form as reported from the Ways and Means. Recent examples of this practice are to be had in the presentation to the Ways and Means of suggested amendments to the Administrative Customs Act by Charles S. Hamlin, Assistant-Secretary of the Treasury, and in the comments on the Wilbur Filled-Cheese Bill sent in to the same committee by Henry E. Alford, Chief of the Dairy Division in the Department of Agriculture. There are many avenues leading from the Depart-'