Page images

to the modif

Осто BER, 1803.
The Louisiana Treaty.

H. OF R. Connecticut, he would notice an observation of. I am disposed 10 do perfect justice to the

pure his colleague (Mr. Griswold) that, although on intentions, the candid views of the gentleman the mere abstract question, whether the treaty from Maryland (Mr. Nicholson) in relation to ought to be carried into effect, information as to this subject. He may be able to justify himself the mode of doing it was necessary; yet, as every for voting in favor of that resolution, but I cannot. gentleman would be free to move in the Commit- I conceive it would be highly improper. tee of the Whole, specific propositions, it was The question was taken on agreeing to the first proper, to enable the House to judge of those pro- member of the resolution, as follows: positions, that this information should be previ

Resolved, That the President of the United States ously possessed by them. But, surely, the House be requested to cause to be laid hefore this House a may believe it expedient to pass these laws with-copy of the treaty between the French Republic and out having any idea of the skeletons of the partic- Spain, of the 1st of October, 1800. ular bills. When these specific propositions shall

The House divided-ayes 59, noes 59. The have been made, they will go to particular com- Speaker declaring himself in the affirmative, the mittees, who will obtain of the proper departments motion was carried. the necessary information--of these committees

Mr. Rodney suggested an alteration in the the gentlemen and his friends will be members. second member of the resolution, so as to read So much of the treaty as touches the appropria- " instrument," instead of "deed.”

Mr. the Financial Committee, of which the gentleman cation. has long and deservedly been a member. Other The second member, so modified, was read as propositions will be submitted to other committees follows: If the bills which they present are, in the opinion of gentlemen, inefficient, they will have it in their from Spain, executed in pursuance of the same treaty

“ Together with a copy of the instrument of cession power to show it; to demonstrate the hostility of Spain, and to bring forward other measures better conveying Louisiana to France, (if any such instru

ment exists.") calculated to insure the desired effect. Mr. R. apologized for his long and repeated in

Mr. Huger confessed his impressions to be fatrusion on the House, which the personal appli- vorable to the treaty, though the arguments urged cation of the gentleman from Connecticut had that day, certainly possessed great weight. He produced, and he hoped justified, and thanked was rather of opinion that no such instrument, as them for their polite and patient attention.

that referred to in the resolution, existed. But if Mr. Nicholson said he should vote for the first it did exist, its publication would certainly be satpart of the resolution, as well as for that part isfactory to the people and the House. He dewhich related to the order by Spain for the deliv- lared himself ready to vote for carrying the treaty

into effect. ery. Though it might not be in the power of the Executive to show that the stipulations made by

Mr. Nicholson did not know whether his reFrance had been complied with, yet it would marks had been correctly understood. He did not be in their

power to show an order for the deliv- | know whether the document he alluded to could ery to the French, under the sign manual of His strictly be called the instrument of cession. He Catholic Majesty, and this would be conclusive had drawn an amendment to this part of the res. evidence of the title of France.

olution, which he would propose, if in order, to Mr. ELLIOT.-I must again ask the attention

wit : of the House to a very few observations. What

“Or other instrument showing that the Spanish ever may be said of newspaper information, there Government had ordered the province of Louisiana to are occasions when we must be governed by it,

be delivered to France." when we can obtain no other. I am very confi

The Speaker said, the House having agreed to dent, and I believe every member of this House insert the word “instrument," it was not in order believes, that the Treaty of St. Ildefonso, of the to receive a substitute. first of October, 1800, between the First Consul

Mr. Huger moved to reconsider the vote of the of the French Republic and His Catholic Majesty, House in favor of the insertion of the word “inwas a secret treaty. I believe it never has been strument." published. If it has been, every editor of a news

Motion lost-ayes 24. paper in the United States, every person in the

The question was then taken on the second habit of reading, may be supposed to have access member, as above stated, and lost-ayes 34. to it, equally with the President. There is the

The question was then taken on the third memgreatest probability, however, that neither the ber, viz: First Consul nor His Catholic Majesty could, at “ Also, copies of such correspondence between the this day, publish that treaty without being guilty Government of the United States and the Government of a breach of faith, and 'that, if the President or Minister of Spain, (if any such correspondence has possesses it, it has been confidentially communi- taken place,) as will show the assent or dissent of Spain cated to him. Whether it be a secrei or a public

to the purchase of Louisiana by the United States.” treaty, we have no right to take it for granted, as

And lost-ayes 34. contemplated by the resolution, that it is in the The question was then taken on the last mempossession of the President; and we have no

right ber of the motion, and lost, without a division, to require it from him.

viz: sth Con.-14


H. OF R.

Amendment to the Constitution.

OCTOBER, 1803.

* Together with copies of such other documents as planck, Matthew Walton, John Whitehill, and Richmay be in the Department of State, or any other de- ard Winn. partment of this Government, tending to ascertain whe

AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION. ther the United States have, in fact, acquired any title to the province of Louisiana by the treaties with France The House resolved itself into a Committee of of the 30th of April, 1803.

The Whole on the report of a select committee on The question recurring on the whole of the propositions of amendment to the Constitution. resolution, as amended,

The report was read, as follows: Mr. Nicholson moved to amend the second Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representamember by adding to the end thereof:

tives of the United States of America in Congress as

sembled, two-thirds of both Houses concurring, That “ Together with copy of any instrument in pos- the following article be proposed to the Legislatures of session of the Executive, showing that the Spanish the different States as an amendment to the ConstituGovernment has ordered the province of Louisiana to tion of the United States, which, when ratified by threebe delivered to the Commissary or other agent of the fourths of the said Legislatures, shall be valid to all French Government.”

intents and purposes as a part of the said Constitution, Agreed to—ayes 64.

viz : The question was then taken by yeas and nays

“ In all future elections of President and Vice Presion the whole of the original motion, amended as dent, the Electors shall name in their ballots the person follows:

voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the per“ Resolved, That the President of the United States shall not be an inhabitant of the same State with them

son voted for as Vice President, of whom one at least be requested to cause to be laid before the House, a selves. The person having a majority of all the Eleccopy of the treaty between the French Republic and tors for President shall be the President; and if there Spain, of the 1st October, 1800, together with a copy shall be no such majority, the President shall be chosen of any instrument in possession of the Executive, from the highest numbers, not exceeding three, on the showing that the Spanish Government has ordered the list for President, by the House of Representatives, in province of Louisiana to be delivered to the Commis- the manner directed by the Constitution. The person sary or other agent of the French Government."

having the greatest number of votes as Vice President And lost-yeas 57, nays 59, as follows: shall be the Vice President, and in case of an equal

YEAS- John Archer, William Blackledge, William number of votes for two or more persons for Vice PresChamberlin, Martin Chittenden, Clifton Claggett, ident, they being the highest on the list, the Senate Thomas Claiborne, Matthew Clay, John Clopton, shall choose the Vice President from those having such Samuel W. Dana, John Davenport, Thomas Dwight, equal number, in the manner directed by the ConstituJohn Earle, Peter Early, Calvin Goddard, Peterson tion.” Goodwyn, Thomas Griffin, Gaylord Griswold, Roger Mr. Dawson observed, that at the time of the Griswold, Seth Hastings, Daniel Heister, David adoption of the Constitution, that part of it which Holmes, David Hough, Benjamin Huger, Samuel related to the election of a President and Vice Hunt, Walter Jones, William Kennedy, Joseph Lewis, President had been objected to; and evils likely jun., Thomas Lewis, Henry W. Livingston, Matthew to occur had been foreseen Lyon, William McCreary, Nahum Mitchell, Nicholas that day. Experience had shown that they were

some gentlemen at R. Moore, Joseph H. Nicholson, Thomas Plater, Samuel D. Purviance, Jacob Richards, Cæsar A. Rodney, I knew the situation in which the country had been

not mistaken.' Every gentleman in that House Erastus Root, Joshua Sands, John Cotton Smith, John Smith of New York, John Smith of Virginia, William placed by the controverted election of a Chief Stedman, James Stephenson, Samuel Taggart, Samuel Magistrate; it was one which he trusted never Tenney, Samuel Thatcher, David Thomas, Philip R. would return. I: had been a subject much reThompson, John Trigg, Joseph B. Varnum, Peleg Alected on by the people, and by the State LegisWadsworth, Lemuel Williams, Marmaduke Williams, latures, several of which had declared their approJoseph Winston, and Thomas Wynns.

bation of the principle contained in the resoluNars—Willis Alston, junior, Nathaniel Alexander, tion reported by the committee. This House had Isaac Anderson, David Bard, George Michael Bedin- two years since ratified a similar amendment by ger, John Boyle, Robert Brown, William Butler, Geo. a Constitutional majority of two-thirds. At that W. Campbell

, Levi Casey, Joseph Clay, Frederick time no objections were made to the principle of Conrad, Jacob Crowninshield, Richard Cutts, John the amendment. All the objection then made Dawson, William Dickson, James Elliot, John W. Eppes, William Eustis, William Findlay, John Fowler, thinness of the House. Mr. D. considered it un

was on account of the lateness of the day and Edwin Gray, Andrew Gregg, Wade Hampton, John A. Hanna, Josiah Hasbrouck, Joseph Heister, William necessary to make any further remarks at that Hoge, James Holland, John G. Jackson, Nehemiah time, as he could not anticipate any objections Knight, Michael Leib, John B. C. Lucas, Andrew Mc- that might be urged. He moved that the ComCord, David Meriwether, Samuel L. Mitchill, Thomas mittee should rise and report the resolution withMoore, Jeremiah Morrow, Anthony New, Thomas out amendment. Newton, jun., Gideon Olin, Beriah Palmer, John Ran

Mr. J. CLAY, though in favor of the principle dolph, jun., Thomas M. Randolph, John Rea of Penn- of the amendment, was of opinion that, as to some sylvania, John Rhea of Tennessee, Thomas Sammuns, of its parts, it required alteration. He therefore Thomas Sandford, Ebenezer Seaver, John Smilie, Rich- moved ard Stanford, Joseph Stanton, John Stewart, Philip “But if no person have such majority, then the Van Cortlandt, Isaac Van Horne, Daniel C. Ver- House of Representatives shall immediately proceed to

OCTOBER, 1803.

Amendment to the Constitution.

H. OF R.

[ocr errors]

choose by ballot from the two persons having the great the Constitution. But the present amendment est number of votes, one of them for President; or if varies this mode, according to which it is to be there be three or more persons having an equal num-made without respect to States. Of course a maber of votes, then the House of Representatives shall joriiy of the members are to decide. He submit. in like manner, from the persons having such equality lied it to gentlemen whether they were willing in of votes, choose the President; or if there be one per- ihis way to sacrifice the interests and rights of son having a greater number of votes—not being a the smaller States. If this be the intention of majority of the whole number of Electors appointedthan any other person, and two or more persons who gentlemen, we ought to have time to deliberate have an equal number of votes one with the other, then

on the subject before it is pressed to a decision. the House of Representatives shall in like manner, The gentleman from Pennsylvania will explain from among such persons having the greater number whether this is his intention. of votes and such other persons having an equality of

Mr. J. Clay begged leave explicitly to state, for votes, choose the President."

the satisfaction of the gentleman from Connecti

cut, that it was not his intention to change that Mr. Van Cortlandt thought the amendment part of the Constitution which prescribed that the liable to objection.

votes should be by States; and if it would induce Mr. G. W. CAMPBELL was in favor of the prin- the gentleman to vote for the resolution he had ciple contained in the amendment. He consid-moved, he would add the words of the Constituered to be the duty of this House, in introducing tion, viz: an amendment to the Constitution on this point, “ But in choosing the President the votes shall be to secure to the people the benefits of choosing the taken by States, the representation from each State President, so as to prevent a contravention of their having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall conwill as expressed by Electors chosen by them; sist of a member or members from two-thirds of the resorting 1o Legislative interposition only in ex- States, and a majority of all the States shall be necestraordinary cases: and when this should be ren-sary to a choice.” dered necessary, so guarding the exercise of Le- These words were accordingly added. gislative power, that those only should be capable Mr. Dawson observed that this proposition had of Legislative election who possessed a strong been submitted to the select committee, who had evidence of enjoying the confidence of the people. considered it more objectionable than that reThis was the true spirit and principle of the Con. ported. Their object was to innovate as little as stitution, whose object was, through the several possible on the Constitution. A great part of it organs of the Government, faithfully to express referred to cases so extremely remote as were not the public opinion. For this reason he was in likely to happen. The only material change it favor of the proposed amendment. By it we shall made was to reduce the number of persons from make a less innovation on the spirit of the Consti- whom a choice should be made from three to two. tution than by rejecting it, and adopting the re-At present the election for a President and Vice port of the select committee. There were ob- President was made from the five highest on the vious reasons why the persons from whom a list. As, according to the proposed amendment, choice may be made should be fewer in case of a a designation of the persons voted for as Presidesignation of the office than heretofore. At pres-dent and Vice President was to be made, it was ent the whole number of electoral votes is one considered that by giving the three highest to the hundred and seventy-six. As the Constitution House of Representatives, from which to choose now stands, four candidates might have an equal a President, and the two highest to the Senate, number of votes, or three might have a majority, from which to choose a Vice President, the spirit viz: one hundred and seventeen each. Accord of the Constitution would not be changed. He ing to the proposed amendment, but one can have hoped therefore the report of the committee would a majority, and if two persons should be equal be agreed to. He believed it comprehended all and highest, it is not probable that the third can- cases which were probable; and he further bedidate will have many votes.

lieved that if they spent a month they would not Mr. Griswold said it was very difficult to as- devise an amendinent that would provide for all certain the precise import of the amendment possible cases that may happen. offered by the gentleman from Pennsylvania by Mr. Clopron said he rose to express his approbarely hearing it read from the Chair. In the bation of the amendment offered by the gentlemeaning therefore which he gave it, he might per- man from Pennsylvania (Mr. Clay.) He said haps be mistaken. If not mistaken, it involved a that indeed the amendment could not but be acprinciple and implied a change, which he had ceptable to him, inasmuch as it corresponded with never before heard suggested on that floor, or in the ideas he had the honor to express to the Com. the part of the country from which he came. It mittee on this subject the other day. He begged is well known to every member, that under the leave now to make a few remarks in addition to Constitution as it at present stands, the votes given those which he had then stated. He said, if anyfor a President in this House are by States, and thing is to be lamented as a defect in the fundapot according to the majority of the members of mental principles of our Government, that defect the whole body. The amendment, as reported by perhaps consists in a departure from the plain the select committee, preserves this original fea- and simple modes of immediate election by the ture of the Constitution by prescribing that the people as to some of the branches of the Governelection shall be proceeded with as pointed out by I ment. He did not mean however now to discuss,

H. OF R.

Amendment to the Constitution.

OCTOBER, 1803.

nor did he know that he ever should discuss, this tee, he was irresistibly impressed with the opinpoint. The Constitution of the United States ion that a Legislative election of President or having established a different principle in respect Vice President, whenever resorted to, should be to the election of the several departments of the restrained to the smallest numbe

above an unit, Government, except that branch of the Legisla- or to those persons who have equal electoral votes. ture which this House composes; and the object He considered it as a position clearly and unquesof the proposed amendment to the Constitution tionably true, that if the field of election, when not being the transmutation of a fundamental not decided by the voice of the people themselves, principle, but merely an alteration in the mode should be left 100 wide, more chances will there heretofore directed of electing one branch of the always be for the introduction of abuses in deterGovernment according to the principle already mining on a choice, if those whose province it established, his business and his object was to shall be to decide, should be actuated by a spirit state to this Committee those ideas which occurred adverse to the public sentiment. Results ungrateto him on this occasion as suited to the subject as ful to the public feeling might indeed become it now stands before the Committee.

sources of discontent truly to be lamented. The When the framers of this Constitution, said demon of discord might be called forth, and stalkMr. C., submitted it to the consideration of the ing over our land, might unfortunately produce a people of the several States, drawn as it is, direct state of things very different from that peaceful, ing the election of President and Vice President tranquil state, which would follow a decision to be made through the medium of Electors cho- more conformable to the will of the people. Such sen by the people for that purpose, never could it a decision he believed would be insured were the have been their intention in submitting, or the in- election to be confined to those two persons only tention of the people in accepting the Constitu- who had received the most ample testimony of tion, to admit a principle that any eventual Legis- the public confidence, or to those who had been lative election would be proper, if the object of it stamped with equal testimonials of that confidence. did not bear the stamp of public confidence. For the reasons, Mr. C. said, which he had They never could have abandoned that great po- stated, he was in favor of the amendment as prolitical consideration that the people, as the prima-posed by the gentleman from Pennsylvania. He ry source of all power, should first give to those had, indeed, he said, prepared an amendment to particular citizens, among whom such Legislative the same effect, but was anticipated by that genchoice might be made, the evidence of a very tleman. He said, if it were in order, he would considerable share of their confidence. The Elec. offer it as a substitute for that amendment. He tors are the organs, who, acting from a certain then read it in his place, as follows: and unquestioned knowledge of the choice of the

“ The Electors shall make two lists, one of which people, by whom they themselves were appointed, shall contain the names of all the persons voted for as and under immediate responsibility to them, se President, and the number of votes given to each perlect and announce those particular citizens, and son respectively; the other list shall contain the names affix to them by their votes an evidence of the of all the persons voted for as Vice President, and the degree of public confidence which is bestowed number of votes given to each person respectively; upon them.

The adoption of this medium, which two lists they shall sign and certify, and transthrough which the election should be made, in mit sealed to the seat of Government of the United preference to the mode of immediate election by States, directed to the President of the Senate. The the people, was no abandonment of the great prin- President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the ciple, that the appointment of the constituted au- Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certhorities ought to be conformable to the public tificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The will. It was no abandonment of that principle in person having the greatest number of votes on the list respect to the President and Vice President. The containing the votes for President shall be the President adoption of this medium in the first resort, and if such number be a majority of the whole number of the adoption of this alternative of a Legislative Electors appointed. If on the list containing the votes election in the last resort, were not intended as

for President no person have a majority of the whole disparagements to the energy of that principle- highest on that list the House of Representatives shall

number of the Electors appointed, then from the two were not intended to operate any diminution of immediately choose, by ballot, one of them for Presiits force. The spirit, the genius of the Govern- dent, unless more than two persons have an equal numment, is the same. The same principle was in-ber of votes, and that number shall be the highest on tended to influence its operations; the same prin the list; in such a case the said House shall, in like ciple was intended to influence its elections, al- manner, choose one of those persons for President; though in a different form and after a different but, if one person only have the highest number on manner. It is a great characteristic feature of the list, and that number be not a majority of the the Government. It is a primary, essential, and whole number of Electors appointed, and if two or distinguishing attribute of the Government, that more other persons have an equal number of votes, if the will of the people should be done; and that that number be the next highest, then from the person the elections should be according to the will of having the highest number and the persons having the people.

equal votes, the said House of Representatives shall, Mr. C. said that most seriously considering the in like manner, choose one for President.” principles of the Government in such a point of Mr. C. said, he was not tenacious of his own view as he had the honor to state to the Commit- I composition, but he believed what he had prepared

OCTOBER, 1803.

Amendment to the Constitution.

H. OF R.

went somewhat further than the amendment pro- against those difficulties. But cases may arise in posed by the gentleman from Pennsylvania, and which the amendment of the select committee provided more explicitly as to the mode of pro- will not be adequate. It says the election shall ceeding of the Electors in making lists of their be made from the three highest persons voted for, votes. On a subject of such immense importance as but there may be cases where there are no three the present, a subject which might involve the highest, where four, ten, or twenty of the persons liberiy and happiness of millions yet unborn, it voted for shall be equal'in number of votes. This was necessary that the expressions should be as case is not embraced in the resolution. For this clear and as definite as possible, that there ought reason, Mr. N. said he should have been pleased to be no ambiguity, no expressions which might ad- in having the question taken on the amendment mit of misconstructions; that he had endeavored of the gentleman from Pennsylvania. But as that so to draw that which he had read to the Commit- amendment had been withdrawn, he would move tee, in which he had thought it safer to repeat another, that the principle might be settled. He phrases than refer to them by relative expressions. said he could conceive of no objection to giving He hoped that the decision would be conformable the House of Representatives the right of making to the ideas contained in the proposed amend- a choice of President from all those voted for by ment.

the Electors. The case, stated some days since The Speaker said it was not in order to receive by the gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. Clopron,) the amendment of the gentleman from Virginia, of one candidate having 87 votes, a second candiunless that of the gentleman from Pennsylvania date having 86 votes, and three others having one was previously withdrawn.

vote, was extreme; and, if it should occur, he Mr. Gregg.-It was impossible fully to compre. could see no inconvenience likely to result from hend the two propositions offered, barely by hear- the House of Representatives enjoying the right ing them read. Amendments to the Constitution of making a choice from the whole five. It were of great importance. He felt at a loss how would be remembered that the House were chosen to act in the present instance, not clearly under- by the people, and would, in the selection they standing the resolutions proposed. He was in made, express the public will, as well as the Electfavor of the principle they contained, and had al-ors themselves. The feelings of the one would ways been so. He had been in Congress in the be in unison with those of the other; nor could he year 1796 when the first proposition to this effect conceive that a House of Representatives would was made by a gentleman from New Hampshire. ever exist that would dare to choose a person have The inconveniences attending the last election ing one vote. None would be found hardy enough had strengthened his conviction of the propriety to violate the public sentiment. He iherefore of an amendment similar in substance to that of moved to strike out from the report of the Comfered. He viewed, therefore, with pleasure the mittee all that part of it which confined the choice attention now paid to the subject by the House, to the three highest. If the majority of the Comand hoped an amendment would take place at the mittee should not coincide with him in opinion, present time. The more simple that amendment he should wish the gentleman from Pennsylvania was, the more likely it would be to be approved to renew his proposition, And, if the Committee by the States. In order ultimately to simplify it, concurred in neither, he should wish some other so as to render it the least objectionable to the gentlemen to bring forward another principle. States, he wished every member, who had formed For, if the principle were not fixed there, he was in his mind an eligible proposition, would now convinced they would be involved in endless difbring it forward, that the whole might be printed. ficulties by the reports of select committees.

Mr. J. CLAY said, as there existed considerable Mr. N. then moved to strike out these words: difference of opinion, he would withdraw his mo- “And if there shall be no such majority the Presition, in order to move that the Committee should dent shall be chosen from the highest numbers, not exrise, when he would move a recommitment of the ceeding three, on the list for President by the House of report of the select committee.

Representatives :" Mr. Nicholson said that, before the question And insert in lieu thereof the following words: was taken on the rising of the Committee, he “And if no such person have a majority, then the would offer an amendment to the resolution re- House of Representatives shall immediately choose a ported by the select committee. It was his opin- President from among those persons who have not ion that the question of principle should be settled been voted for as President.” in the House; if not so settled, it would be impos- Mr. Dawson said that when the gentleman sible for the report of any select committee 10 from Maryland moved the appointment of a select meet the approbation of the House. In the select committee, he had voted against it, and for the committee a variety of propositions had been of very reason now assigned by him. As to the profered; the Committee reported one, to which they positions at present offered, they had been sevehad agreed; there were still endless amendments rally reflected upon by the select committee; and, offered, which he was convinced would continue if referred to that committee, the House ought, in to be offered until some principle was fixed by the the first instance, to decide the principle. As to House. In making an amendment to the Consti- the amendment offered by the gentleman from tution on this point, they ought to guard against Maryland, he conceived it scarcely necessary to all possible difficulties. The amendment of the make a single remark upon it, as the House was gentleman from Pennsylvania goes to guard | disposed to reduce rather than to extend the num

« PreviousContinue »