Page images
PDF
EPUB

H. of R.

Amendment to the Constitution.

ОстоBER, 1803.

a

а

ber of persons from whom a choice should be fore, was to leave the Constitution as it now made. If adopted, it will give the House of Rep- stood, so far as it related to a choice being made resentatives a righi to vote for 176 persons, as no from the five highest, and only so íar to change it. candidate might have more than one vote. as related to a designation of ihe office.

Mr. Nicholson believed the proposition of the Mr. SANFORD said the great object of the amendselect committee would reduce them to the same ment ought to be to prevent persons voted for as situation as if of the 176 votes given, one was Vice President from becoming President. If the given to each candidate, no one would be higher amendment effected this, it was sufficient. All than another. The proper reply to this remark other innovation upon the Constitution was imwas, that it was an extreine case, not likely to hap- proper; and no danger could arise from extending pen. Mr. N. said, he was not so anxious that his the right of the House of Representatives to makamendment should succeed, as that the principle ing a choice from the five highest. should be fixed, in that House, some way or

Mr. Rodney said that in the select committee other.

he had been in favor of the number stated in the Mr. Goddard said, though he would not pledge Constitution. He was not for innovating on the hinself to vote for the proposed amendment to the Constitution one tittle more than was absolutely Constitution, in any shape whatever, yet he was necessary. As to the mere designation of office, in favor of the amendment offered by the gentle the people looked for and expected it; and if that man from Maryland. He thought with him that were obtained, they would be satisfied. He well there would be no great danger from the latitude knew that if amendments to this simple proposiallowed the House of Representatives, as they tion were multiplied, objections to the whole were chosen by the people as well as the Electors; would also be increased. Having been originally por could he perceive why they were more to be in favor of five, and thinking the inconveniences distrusted than the Electors. But the principal apprehended by some gentlemen not likely to reason that operated with him in favor of the occur, he shculd vote in favor of the amendinent amendment was, that it extended the right of suf- of the gentleman from Maryland, principally for frage in the House of Representatives. It is well the reason assigned by the gentleman from Conknown that our system is that of a Confederation. necticut, that it would allow to the smaller States There appeared to him no danger of 176 persons a larger scope of choice. being voted for; the nature of the Government *: Mr. Elliot hoped the amendment of the genwas such that but few persons would be voted for. tleman from Maryland would not prevail; and But, if no choice is made by the Electors, he coming, as he did himself, from a small State, he wished the right of the House of Representatives trusted the House would pardon him for assigning to be extended for this reason, because it will in- his reasons for that hope. He felt as much concrease the power of the small States. As he confidence in the House of Representatives as the ceived, the original proposition went effectually to gentleman from Connecticut; but he was of opinimpair the rights of the small States; and, indeed, ion that their discretion ought to be limited. The any amendment would have that effect; but the amendment will give the House of Representatives amendment of the gentleman from Maryland hav- the unqualified power of electing from the whole ing this effect as little as possible, he should vote number on the list of persons voted for as Presifor it.

dent, and on that ground he opposed it. It was Mr. Smilie would wish one principle altered in said to be a question of larger and smaller States, the report of the select committee, viz: that and those who represent the smaller States were which confined the election of the President to called upon to check the usurpation of the larger the three highest persons voted for. It was im- States. Our system was undoubtedly federative, possible for human wisdom to provide for all cases and there might be danger of an usurpation of the that might occur. Their time was not well spent largę States if the small ones were not protected in providing for cases extremely remote. He had by the Constitution. His wish was that they but one object in view, the designation of office; might be so guarded. But he still thought the and the more simple the proposition, the more discretion of the House of Representatives ought likely they were to obtain this object.' It should to be limited. When this subject was first disbe recollected that the Constitution was the act cussed, an observation of a gentleman from Virof the people, and ought not to be altered till in- ginia (Mr. CLOPTON) had struck him with force. conveniences actually arise under it. He believed, That gentleman had correctly stated that, accordthough particular parts might be defective in the ling to the proposition then before the House, one ory, they ought not to be changed till practical candidate might have eighty-seven votes, another inconveniences had been experienced. No such eighty-six, and three have one voie each, and a inconvenience had yet been felt from choosing choice be made from among the candidates having the President from the five highest on the list. Is but one vote. Should the amendment of the genit, then, prudent to embarrass the great principle, tleman from Maryland obtain, the same right in which they generally concurred, with inciden- would exist in the House of Representatives. tal propositions, when ihere was no necessity for But the gentlemen asks if any House of Reprethem ?' This amendment was to obtain the assent sentatives will dare to elect a person having but of thirteen Legislative bodies before it would be one vote. He hoped they always would dare to binding. The simpler, then, the proposition, the do their duty, and it would then be their Constimore likely it was to succeed. His idea, there- tutional right. But Mr. E. thought they ought

OCTOBER, 1803.
Amendment to the Constitution.

H. of R. not to possess this discretion. Gentlemen further Mr. GODDARD said that he was in favor of that say the great object is a designation of the office. amendment for the same reason that he had been It is so.

It was his sincere wish that the simple in favor of that proposed by the gentleman from object should be obtained. But he believed there Maryland. The gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. would be no danger in adding to the proposition Campbell) has told us that it is our duty to act, an amendment restricting the number from which not from motives of interest, but duty. Mr. G. the choice should be made.

considered it as his duty so to act as to protect Mr. G. W. CAMPBELL said he, too, represented the interests of his constituents, and of the State a small State, and was anxious to preserve the which he had the honor to represeut. The genrights of the small States. But in a great Consti- tleman further observes that in limiting the numtutional question, while these rights were not lost ber from which a choice may be made, we shall sight of, principle ought also to be regarded. This insure a nearer approach to the will of the people. he conceived io be his duty, whatever effect it Now what is that will, but the will of the large might have upon the State he represented. For States of Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania ? this reason he considered it proper to express his He apprehended that there might be cases where opinions on the present occasion. It was a vital the interests of the smaller States might be mateprinciple to preserve the Constitution as pure as rially affected. The larger States will generally possible. This rendered it necessary to show that have first nomination of the persons voted for as the proposition of the gentleman from Pennsylva. President and Vice President. If we dislike all nia (Mr. Clay) came nearer to the principle of the candidates, neither of whom shall have a mathe Constitution than that offered by the gentle- jority of all the electoral votes, we may select man from Maryland. He had already observed from among them the one that best pleases us. that, there being at present no designation, four He considered the Constitution so framed as to was the smallest possible number from which a guard all the States. And if gentlemen are so choice could be made: to this number but one was tenacious of its vital principle, let them suffer it to added, making, altogether, five. In future elec- remain as it is. But if there is a determination to tions there will be one hundred and seventy-six alter it, which he feared was the case, he hoped Electors, and if there be a designation of office, no greater alteration would be made than was nebut one person can have a majority. To confine cessary to secure the end which gentlemen prothe choice to two persons will, therefore, in prin- fessed to have in view. The greater the number ciple, approach as near as possible to the original of candidates, the greater, in his opinion, would be principle of the Constitution.

the influence of the smaller States. Nor could Mr. C. was in favor of preserving that part of there be any danger from reposing a discretion in the Constitution which directed the election to be the House of Representatives, as they were electmade by States, wishing as little innovation as ed by the people as well as the Electors; and possible on the principles of the Constitution. He when it was known by the people that on them did not, however, conceive a mere change of words devolved the eventual election, they would be dangerous, but ihe establishment of a principle chosen in reference to the discharge of this duty, that deprived the people of the power of electing as well as the other duties constitutionally imposthose who possessed the largest share of their con- ed upon them. fidence. He was decidedly in favor of whatever Mr. Alston was opposed to the amendment had this effect, as according with the true spirit of offered by the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. the Constitution; and he was, therefore, opposed Smilie) to the amendment of the select committo the amendment of the gentleman from Mary- tee, because in his opinion it would have a tenland. His own opinion, too, was that it was best dency to bring the election of a President of the to express in one article whatever related to the United States more frequently into the House election of President and Vice President, than of Representatives, than otherwise it would be refer to the Constitution; by which the provisions brought; he was as much disposed to guard against on that subject would be rendered much clearer. the influence of the large States as any member

The question was then taken on Mr. Nichol- upon that door. son's amendment, and lost-ayes 29, noes 77. The gentleman from Connecticut last up (Mr.

Mr. Smilie, in order to try the principle, would Goddard) was in favor of the amendment, because move to strike out "three," and insert "live.” he thought it calculated to lessen the influence of Mr. Findley seconded the motion.

larger States. For his part, Mr. A. thought very Mr. Dawson would only repeat a remark which differently from that gentleman; he believed that, he had already made. The select commiltee, in provided the amendment should be acceded to, it proposing three as the number from which an would be an inducement to any one of the large election should be made, did not consider them- States to prevent an election of President by the selves as departing in the least from the spirit of Electors of the several States, that if the votes of the Constitution; as, when both President and a large State should be withheld from any of the Vice President were voted for without discrimi- candidates proposed as President, it would prevent pation, the choice was made from five.

such candidate from obtaining a majority of all Mr. Smilie observed he did not know that there the votes of the Electors. What ther, Mr. A. would be any danger in this innovation; but it asked, would be be the consequence? The choice was his wish not to alter the Constitution, except would have to be made by that House, which cirin cases of necessity.

cumstance he never wished to witness again; this

a

H. of R.

The Louisiana Treaty.

OCTOBER, 1803.

he conceived to be an important point to guard

LOUISIANA TREATY. against as much as possible.

The House resolved itself into a Committee of He believed the fewer the number of the can. the Whole on the Message from the President of didates or persons voted for, that the choice of the United States, of the twenty-first instant, enPresident was confined to, the less chance there closing a Treaty and Conventions entered into and would be for that House to be called upon to ratified by the United States and the French Remake it. Should they adopt the amendment pro- public; to which Committee of the whole House posed, a strong inducement would be held out to was also referred a motion for carrying the same any one of the large States, which might be dis-ipto effect. pleased with the candidate proposed as President, Mr. G. Griswold said he had hoped that some to withhold the vote of their State, by which a gentleman, in favor of the resolution under conmajority of the votes of all the Electors would sideration, would have risen to assign his reasons noť be given to any one candidate, because the in favor of it. But no gentleman friendly to its whole vote of a large State given to their favorite adoption having risen, and feeling himself emwould be certain to bring him within the five barrassed, he would take the liberty of suggesting highest upon the list; but, on the contrary, should his doubis as to the propriety of the resolution. they confine the choice to be made out of ihe two He hoped the Committee would have the candor highest upon the list, agreeably to the proposition to believe that, in stating those doubts which hung of another gentleman from Pennsylvania, (Mr. upon his mind, his object was not to delay the Clay), which had been withdrawn, many still progress of the measures contemplated, but to gain would be more likely to promote the election of information. one of the candidates most likely to get the largest In reflecting, for the short time during which number of votes. He was therefore much better the subject had been before bim, he had not been pleased with the motion which had been with able to pursue it in all its bearings, nor to solve all drawn. He should therefore give his vote against the difficulties it presented. He had first asked the present proposition, and should it be rejected, himself where was to be found the Constitutional he would himself renew the proposition made by power of the Government to incorporate the Terthe gentleman from Pennsylvania on the other ritory, with the inhabitants thereof, in the Union side of the House, (Mr. Clay,) should it not be of the United States, with the privileges of citizens renewed by the gentleman himself.

of the United States—is there any such power ? Mr. Randolph said he came to the House under And if there is, where is it lodged?' In giving his the impression that another subject would have opinion on the Constitutional right of making occupied their attention on account of its primary treaties, he would say that it was vested in the importance, not meaning, however, to disparage President and Senate, and that a treaty made by the importance of an amendment to the Constitu- them on a subject constitutionally in their treaty. tion. But on a subject which must be discussed making power, was valid without the assent of in a few days, if at all, it was improper that time this House. This House had, to be sure, the physhould be lost. The proposed amendment to the sical power of refusing the necessary means to Constitution was not, be believed, so extremely carry treaties into effect; but this power was espressing as to require immediate attention. The sentially different from that conferred by the Consubject to which Mr. R. had expected the atten- stitution. But if the treaty-making power should tion of the House, would have been first directed be exceeded, if it should be undertaken to make it was the Treaty with France. Hoping that the operate upon subjects not constitutionally vested, Committee would have decided on the amendment he had a right to say that it was his duty not to at an early hour, he had refrained from any mo- carry it into effect. Even should its provisions be tion. But perceiving that a decision was not highly beneficial, it was no less their Constitulikely soon to be made. he would move that the tional duty to resist it. He would not undertake Committee should rise, for the purpose of taking to say that his mind was perfectly fixed, but he up the treaty respecting Louisiana.

enteriained doubts-serious doubts; and he hoped Mr. Dawson opposed the rising of the Com- gentlemen would candidly give them answers. mittee.

He found in the third article of the treaty that The question was taken on Mr. Randolph's The inhabitants of the ceded territory shall be inmotion, and carried-yeas 60, nays 55. When the corporated in the union of the United States, and adCommittee rose.

mitted as soon as possible, according to the principles And on motion, the House adjourned.

of the Federal Constitution, to the enjoyment of all the
rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens of the

United States; and in the mean time they shall be
Tuesday, October 25.

maintained and protected in the free enjoyment of their

liberty, property, and the religion which they profess." The Speaker laid before the House a letter from Here then is a compact between the French the Secretary of the Treasury, accompanying a Government and that of the United States, to report and sundry documents, marked A, B, C, D, admit to citizenship persons out of the jurisdiction E, F, G, and H, prepared in pursuance of an act, of the United States, as it now is, and to admit terentiiled "An act to establish the Treasury Depart- ritory out of the United States to be incorporated ment;" which were read, and ordered to be refer- into the Union. He did not find in the Constired to the Committee of Ways and Means. lution such a power vested in the President and

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

a

[ocr errors]

66

OCTOBER, 1803.
The Louisiana Treaty.

H. OF R. Senate. If such a power be not expressly vested, Spain or any of her colonies, loaded only with the produce it must be reserved to the people. It was not or manufactures of Spain or her colonies, shall be admitconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution that ted during the space of twelve years in the port of New territory other than that attached to the United Orleans, and in all other legal ports of entry within the States at the time of the adoption of the Consti- ceded territory, in the same manner as the ships of the tution should be admitted; because at that time United States coming directly from France or Spain, the persons who formed the Constitution of the or any of their colonies, without being subject to any United States had a particular respect to the then other or greater duty on merchandise, or other or greater subsisting territory. "They carried their ideas to tonnage than paid by the citizens of the United States." the time when there might be an extended popu- This article gives to the ships of France and lation; but they did not carry them forward to Spain the same right of entering the ports of the the time when an addition might be made to the ceded territory with our own vessels; and it preUnion of a territory equal to the whole United cludes the ships of all other nations from the same States, which additional territory might overbal- right. Now if, as gentlemen contend, the new ance the existing territory, and thereby the rights ceded territory with the inbabitants should beof the present citizens of the United States be come incorporated with the United States, there swallowed up and lost. Such a measure could will be ports of entry in the United States into not be consistent either with the spirit or the genius which French and Spanish vessels may enter on of the Government.

terms different from those on which they may For these reasons, Mr. G. was of opinion that enter other ports of the United States. The inno such power was delegated to any department ference was ihat here was a favor granted to the of the Government; but if such power was dele- ports of New Orleans over other poris. This was gated to any department, it must, in his opinion, against an important principle of the Constitution; be to the Legislature, as he should afterwards for, in the ninth section of the first article, we find, notice. It was not consistent with the spirit of a no preference shall be given by any regulation republican government that its territory should be of commerce or revenue to the ports of one State exceedingly large; for, as you extend your limits over those of another." This treaty then becomes you increase the difficulties arising from a want a law of the land. It has made a commercial of that similarity of customs, habits, and manners, regulation. It gives to the ports of the ceded so essential for its support. It was certainly diffi- territory a preference to any other ports. Because cult to draw the precise line; but there was, not the produce of France and Spain can be carried withstanding, one beyond which we should not go. cheaper to their ports than to any other. If the

But if the right of extending our territory be principle contended for by gentlemen in favor of given by the Constitution, its exercise is vested in the treaty is admitted, I think I see a fatal blow The Legislative branches of the Government. In proposed against the Constitution of the United the 3d section of the fourth article of the Consti- States, by destroying the reciprocity of interest tution it is said, “ New States may be admitted by that unites at present the different members of the the Congress into this Union.” Congress may ad- Union. Perhaps I see wrong. mit new States,-but, according to my construc

Mr. Randolph rose for the purpose of satisfytion of this article, are confined to the territory ing, so far as was in his power, the doubts expressbelonging to the United States at the formation ed by the gentleman from New York. (Mr. G. of the Constitution—to the territory then within Griswold.) He had listened with great pleasure the United States. Existing territory, not within to the candid exposition which the gentleman had the limits of any particular States, may be incor- given of his objections, and from the temper which porated in the Union. He contended, therefore, he had manifested, Mr. R. relied on being able to that the power to incorporate new territory did satisfy some of his scruples on this subject. The not exist; and that, if it did exist, it belonged to objections which have been urged to ihe motion the Legislature, and not the Executive, to incor- before the Committee, resolved themselves into porate it in the Union. If this were the case, it arguments against the constitutionality, and arwas the duty of the House to resist the usurped guments against the expediency of the treaty propower exercised by the Executive.

posed to be carried into effect. As it would be There was another ground as to the constitu- needless to repel objections of this last kind, unless tionality of the treaty ; at least one which excited those of the first description could be satisfactorily doubts in his mind, which he hoped gentlemen answered, he should first reply

to the observations would take up and remove. In the 7th article of which had been made on the Constitutional docthe treaty are these words:

trine. “As it is reciprocally advantageous to the commerce

He understood the gentleman from New York of France and the United States to encourage the com

as denying that there existed in the United States, munication of both nations for a limited time in the as such, a capacity to acquire territory ; that, by country ceded by the present treaty, until general ar

the Constitution, ihey were restricted to the limrangements relative to the commerce of both nations its which existed at ihe time of its adoption. If may be agreed on: it has been agreed between the this position be correct, it undeniably follows that contracting parties, that the French ships coming di- those limits must have been accurately defined and rectly from France or any of her colonies, loaded only generally known at the time when the Governwith the produce and manufactures of France or her said inent took effect. Either they have been particucolonies ; and the ships of Spain coming directly from larly described in the Constitutional compact, or

H. of R.

The Louisiana Treaty.

OCTOBER, 1803.

are referred to as settled beyond dispute, and uni- between the northern boundary of the Spanish
versally acknowledged. But this was not the fact, possessions and what we contended was the south-
in either case. The Constitution not only did not ern limit of Georgia—the United States asserting
describe any particular boundary, beyond which that the country in question was the property of
the United States could not extend, but our bound the United States, in their Confederate capacity,
ary was unsettled on our northeastern, southern, and the State of Georgia claiming it as hers. Al-
and northwestern frontier, at the time of its adop- though I have always advocated the claim of that
tion. But perhaps we shall be told, that, although State, it never was on the principle of an incapacity
our limits were in dispute with our English and in the United States to acquire territory, or any
Spanish neighbors, still there were certain bound other which affects the question now before us. It
aries specified in the Treaty of Paris, of 1783, which is true, sir, we appointed Commissioners to settle
were ihe actual boundaries of the United States. the matters in dispute, amicably, with Georgia ;
It was, however, a well-attested fact-one of which but in the meantime we assumed the jurisdiction,
we possessed official information from the Ex- erected a government over the country, and there-
ecutive-that the limits assigned us by that treaty by established the principle that the United States,
were incapable of being established. A line run- as such, could acquire territory; the country in
ning west, from the Lake of the Woods, not touch- question, as we contended, never having been in-
ing the Mississippi at all: it followed that the Uni- cluded within the limits of any particular States,
ted States were without limits beyond the source and being ceded to the Confederacy by the Treaty
of the Mississippi. It will not be denied, that, of 1783. But perhaps it may be answered, that
among the powers which the Government pos- this acquisition, being made anterior to the date of
sesses under the Constitution, there exists that of the present Constitution, cannot affect any limita-
settling disputes concerning our limits with the tion or restriction, which it may have provided in
neighboring nations. This power was not only relation to this subject; and that to prove that
necessary in relation to the disputed boundaries the old Confederation could acquire territory, is
on the side of Canada and Florida, but was indis- not to prove the same capacity in the present
pensable to a government over a country of inde- system of Government. To this I reply, that the
finite extent. The existence of this power will Constitution contains no such expressed limitation,
not be denied : it has been exercised in ascertain nor can any be fairly inferred from it: and that if
ing our northeastern and southern frontier, and it the old Confederation-a mere government of
involves in it the power of extending the limits of States-a loosely connected league-all of whose
the Confederacy. Let us suppose that the Com- powers, with many more, are possessed by the
missioners, under the Treaty of London, had de- present Federal Government—if this mere alliance
termined the river St. John or St. Lawrence to of States could rightfuily acquire territory in their
be the true St. Croix-would not that part of the allied capacity, much more is the existing Govern-
province of New Brunswick or Quebec which ment competent to make such an acquisition. To
fies on this side of those rivers at this time have me the inference is irresistible.
been a part of the United States? Suppose the But the gentleman does not rest himself on this
northern boundary of Florida bad been fixed, un- ground alone. He does not embark his whole
der the Treaty of San Lorenzo, to extend from the treasure in a single bottom. Granting that the
Atlantic ocean to the Gulf; would not all the United States are not destitute of capacity to ac-
country north of this line and east of the Missis- quire territory, he denies that this acquisition has
sippi-part of the very country conveyed by the been made in a regular way-Congress, says he,
treaty lately negotiated, and which gentlemen con- alone is competent to such an act. In this trans-
ceived we could not constitutionally hold-would action he scents at a distance Executive encroach-
not that country, at this time, compose a part of ment, and we are called upon to assert our rights,
the United States? That the Constitution should and to repel it. If any usurpation of the privi-
tie us down to particular limits, without express leges of Congress, or of this House, be made to ap-
ing those limits; that we should be restrained to pear, I pledge myself to that gentleman to join
the then boundaries of the United States, when it him in resisting it. But let us inquire into the
is in proof to the Committee that no such bounds fact. No gentleman will deny the right of the
existed, or do now exist, was altogether incompre- President to initiate business here, by message,
hensible and inadmissible. For, if the Constitu- recommending particular subjects to our attention.
tion meant the practical limits of ihe United States. If the Government of the United States possess
the extent of country which we then possessed the Constitutional power to acquire territory, from
our recent acquisitions, on the side of Canada and foreign States, the Executive, as the organ by
the Natchez, could not be defended. But, sir, which we communicate with such States, must be
said Mr. R., my position is not only maintainable the prime agent, in negotiating such an acquisi-
by the reason of the Constitution, but by the prac- tion. Conceding, then, that the power of con-
tice under it. Congress have expressed, in their firming this act, and annexing to the United States
own acts, a solemn recognition of the principle, the territory thus acquired, ultimately rests with
that the United States, in their Federative capa- Congress, where has been the invasion of the
city, may acquire, and have acquired, territory. privileges of that body? Does not the President
It will be recollected, that adverse claims once ex- of the United States submit this subject 10 Con-
isted between the United Stales and the State of gress for their sanction? Does he not recognise
Georgia, in relation to a certain tract of country the principle, which I trust we will never give up,

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »