une situation beaucoup moins pénible que vous ne paraissez le craindre.

Veuillez, je vous prie, me rappeler au souvenir de mes parents et amis, et agréer l'assurance de ma haute considération.


New York, April 8, 1843. GENTLEMEN,—I had the honor to receive your letter of the 4th instant inviting me to attend the celebration of the centennial anniversary of the birth of Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence. The state of my health is such at this moment as to render it impossible for me to avail myself of your kind invitation. I regret extremely that I should be thus deprived of the opportunity to pay a tribute to the revered memory of him to whom I was united not only by a conformity of political principles, but by the ties of gratitude and of a personal friendship which during a period of thirty years was never interrupted, or even obscured by a single cloud.

The testimony of the “only surviving member of his Cabinet” respecting his Administration whilst President might not be deemed altogether impartial. And the just appreciation of all his public acts, and of his eminent services, from the earliest dawn of the Revolution to the time when he withdrew from public life, may safely be left to the judgment of posterity.

But, as one intimately acquainted with him, and who enjoyed his entire confidence, I can bear witness to the purity of his character and to his sincere conviction of the truth of those political tenets which he constantly and openly avowed and promulgated. How far these are congenial with American feelings and institutions may be inferred from the fact that, although thirty-five years have elapsed since he left the Presidential chair, no man has as yet been elevated by the people to the same station who did not avowedly belong to the same school.

I do also aver that for his elevation he was indebted solely to his eminent public services and to the knowledge of his political opinions; that he was altogether the spontaneous choice of the people, not promoted by any intrigue, nor even nominated by any assembly or convention, but, without any preconcerted action, and yet without competition, selected unanimously in every quarter by the Republicans who elected him.

I might add much respecting his private and public character; but I have already perhaps gone farther than the occasion required.

Please to accept my thanks for your friendly recollection of an old public servant, and the assurance of my respectful consideration.

Your obedient servant.


New YORK, 20th June, 1813. SIR, I had the honor to receive your letter of 17th instant. I believe the “black cockadeof 1798 to have been worn exclusively by members of the Federal party, but certainly not by all of them. Many did object to such external badge; to what extent it was adopted I really cannot say, as I have but a general and vague recollection of that slight incident. In some other respects my impaired memory is more retentive, and I have not forgotten acts of kindness. Your mention of Mr. Hare reminds me, and I do recollect with feelings of gratitude, that his father was the principal agent in arresting in Pennsylvania an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, proposed and adopted by the New England States, which was personally directed against me. And I may add that, notwithstanding the heat of party feelings, I was always treated with personal kindness and consideration by Mr. Hare's father and by his connections,—the Willing, Bingham, and Powell families.

It is well known that I think the general policy of the Federal party at that time to have been erroneous; but independent of this, which is a matter of opinion, it certainly became intoxicated. The black cockade was a petty act of folly that did

not originate with the leaders; but they committed a series of blunders sufficient alone to have given the ascendency to their opponents, and which at this time appears almost incredible.


NEW YORK, November, 1843. MY DEAR MRS. CHAPMAN,—A severe cold which prostrated me has prevented an earlier acknowledgment of your letter of 19th October last.

I was highly gratified by your kind recollection, but did not know that dear Miss Weston, who could not be forgotten, and Mrs. Maria Chapman, known to me only by the voice of fame, were one and the same being. I have read with pleasure the whole of the annual you sent me. To write anything for it is out of question. I never was but a poor writer in a language which is not my native tongue, and was compelled to confine myself to statements of facts and dry reasoning; now, with impaired faculties, and that writing has become a painful labor, I cannot produce anything fit to be published. I have, moreover, the defects of old age, and feel that I have become cross and fault-finder. I would not for any consideration say anything that might injure the holy cause in which you are engaged, and yet I must tell the truth, or what appears to me to be the truth. But to you, whom I love and respect, to you and not for publication, I may try to submit some desultory observations, which in that shape will at least be harmless.


NEW YORK, 17th December, 1844. DEAR SIR, I have received your note of yesterday, asking my opinion respecting the constitutional character of the resolution for annexing Texas by a legislative act, now before Congress. Had not that resolution been proposed, I should not


have thought that there could be a difference of opinion on that subject.

A doubt has been suggested whether the general government has the right, by its sole authority, to add a foreign independent state to the Union; and I have ever been of opinion that conditions might occur in a treaty ratified by the President and Senate, such as any binding the United States to pay a sum of money, which would require the free assent of Congress before such conditions could be carried into effect. But it is unnecessary on this occasion to discuss those questions. That now at issue is simply this: In whom is the power of making treaties vested by the Constitution? The United States have recognized the independence of Texas; and every compact between independent nations is a treaty.

The Constitution of the United States declares that “the President shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators concur.” This power is not given to Congress by any clause of the Constitution.

The intended joint resolution proposes that the treaty of annexation between the United States of America and the republic of Texas, signed on the 12th of April, 1844 (which treaty is recited verbatim in the resolution), shall, by the Senate and House of Representatives in Congress assembled, be declared to be the fundamental law of union between the said United States and Texas so soon as the supreme authority of the said republic of Texas shall agree to the same.

The Senate had refused to give its consent to the said treaty; and the resolution declares that it shall nevertheless be made by Congress a fundamental law binding the United States. It transfers to a majority of both Houses of Congress with the approbation of the President, and to two-thirds of both Houses without his approbation, the power of making treaties, which, by the Constitution, was expressly and exclusively vested in the President, with the consent of two-thirds of the Senate. The resolution is evidently a direct and, in its present shape, an undisguised usurpation of power and violation of the Constitution.

It would not be difficult to show that it is not less at war with the spirit than with the letter of that sacred instrument; and that the provision which requires the consent of two-thirds of the Senate was intended as a guarantee of the States' rights, and to protect the weaker against the abuse of a treaty-making power, if vested in a bare majority. But the case appears to me so clear, that I would fear to obscure that which is self-evident by adding any argument to the simple recital of the constitutional provision and of the proposed resolution.

I have the honor to be, with high consideration and personal regard, dear sir, your most obedient servant.


NEW YORK, 10th February, 1845. DEAR SIR,—The proceedings in Congress respecting the annexation of Texas, and the opinions expressed on the subject, induce me to submit the following observations in addition to my former letter to you on that subject.

Respectfully yours.

It is provided by the Constitution of the United States that:

1st. Article 2d, Section 2. The President shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur.

2dly. Article 4th, Section 3. New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union, etc.

The constitutional question now under consideration is whether Texas, which has been recognized by the United States as an independent foreign state, can, by virtue of this last provision, be admitted by the sole authority of Congress into the Union as a new State.

It is a fundamental principle, universally recognized by all the jurists and publicists, that in the interpretation of the constitutions, statutes, treaties, deeds, and contracts, or compacts of

« ForrigeFortsett »