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Amendment to the Constitution.
H. OF R.
My colleague (Mr. Eustis) has stated to the The situation of the States forming the Federal House that, in the year 1797, the Legislature of Constitution, and the nature of the compact itself, Massachusetts voted to instruct the Senators and furnish strong evidence of the policy of ihe article
request the Representatives of that State in under consideration. It was absolutely necessary Congress, to propose an alteration of the Consti- that some of the rights of the individual States tution similar to that now proposed. A gentle should be secured for the interest and safety of all. man from New York (Mr. Thomas) has informed This Constitution, to use the language of the Conus that a similar vote passed in the Legislature vention who framed it, “ was the result of a of that State. As these two statements are the spirit of amity, and of that mutual deference and only answers (if such they can be considered) to concession which the peculiarity of our political the various arguments which have this day been situation rendered indispensable." Upon no other adduced in opposition to the resolution, and as principle is it possible to account for that article the gentlemen who have made them appear to of the Constitution which provides for the repreconsider these votes of the State Legislatures ob- sentation of slaves. This article operates with ligatory upon the members of the House who now peculiar inequality in the Northern and Eastern represent those States, I beg leave to state as suc- States. cinctly as possible some of the reasons which will The representation of slaves adds thirteen meminduce me to vote against the resolution.
bers to this House in the present Congress, and An amendment of the Constitution must be eighteen Electors of President and Vice President sanctioned not only by two-thirds of both Houses at the next election. Yet the whole of New of Congress, but must be ratified by three-fourths England contains but thirteen hundred and thirtyof the State Legislatures. The Constitution con-one slaves. Massachusetts and Vermont have siders these different Assemblies as entirely inde- none. pendent of each other. They must act with The New England States have submitted to perfect independence upon this subject, or this this inequality, sensible of the extreme danger of provision of the Constitution is virtually destroy- tampering with the Constitution. But, if it is to ed. Most certainly the resolution of a State Le- be altered, justice requires that the article authorgislature, in 1797, ought not to control the votes izing the representation of slaves should be the of members of this House in 1803. It is, I con- first to receive amendment. ceive, not only their right, but their duty to decide Mr. Speaker, I know that the objections to the upon this question with the most perfect inde article proposed to be altered are plausible--they pendence of opinion.
are popular; but I am confident that, upon close It has been already urged that the Constitutional examination of the different modes of electing mode of electing the President and Vice President our First Magistrate which have been proposed, is admirably calculated to disappoint intrigue and none will be found to combine so many advanprevent corruption. Should an aspiring and dan- tages as that prescribed by the Constitution. The gerous faction obtain the ascendency in this coun- Journal of the Convention evinces that this was try, this mode of election affords the means of a subject of long discussion and mature deliberacounteracting its influence, of checking its con- tion. It was devised by a most illustrious assemtrol. For although such a party will make the bly of sages and patriots; it was adopted at a time greatest exertions to elect that leader who may when the heat of party had not influenced the chance to be the idol of the day, while the Electors country; shall we then, at a time when party are obliged to vote for two candidates, without feelings animate all parts of the Union, shall we designating which is intended, those Electors who destroy one of the firmest pillars of our political are not devoted to the interest of the ruling fac- fabric? I trust, sir, we shall not venture into the tion will exercise a preference of great import- boundless region of hypothesis, that we shall not ance, they will select the candidate least excep- alter one of the fundamental principles of the tionable.
Federal Constitution. The article, which this resolution proposes Mr. J. C. Smith rose and observed, that the alter, has always been considered as the great friends of the resolution had been so occupied with barrier and shield of the smaller States against its details, he feared they had lost sight of its the encroachments of the large. By the present principle. And he was not a little confirmed in mode of election, provided it is effected by the this suspicion, from their profound silence on the Electors, each State has its due proportion of in- present occasion. But as he felt so, he could not fluence. If it be decided by the House of Repre- but express a faint hope that a Constitutional masentatives, the Constitution has put the States jority of the House would not be found to yield upon the ground of perfect equality. But, if the their assent to the proposition. Mr. S. saíd, it proposed alteration takes place, it will undermine was worthy of remark that no alteration had yet the very basis of the Confederacy; it will throw been made in the national compact. Of the eleven the whole power, in this most important election, articles subjoined to the Constitution as amendinto the hands of a few States exclusively. With ments, ten were mere declarations of certain the present population five States may, by combi- rights, not materially affected by that instrument, nation, exclude the other twelve from all partici- and which had their origin in State jealousy, and pation in the choice. It will be totally impossible, the remaining one was intended only to setile the by any precaution whatever, to prevent such a construction of an article in the Constitution combination.
which had before been considered of doubtful im
H. OF R.
Amendment to the Constitution.
port; he alluded to the amendment respecting the stance that even a majority of the electoral votes suability of States.
may not ultimately secure the office, must ever It had been repeatedly acknowledged, Mr. S. form a powerful check to corrupt or ambitious said, by gentlemen on all sides of the House, that views. The aspiring demagogue, willing to barter the Constitution of the United States was an af- wealth for distinction, would hardly be induced fair of compromise—the result of a spirit of amity to lavish his treasures upon so hazardous an exand mutual concession. But was there a gentle periment. And even the man in possession of man on that floor who could inform what were ihe office would scarcely be tempted to use unthe precise terms to that compromise? What worthy means to retain it, when its preservation sacrifices were made? What equivalents were must be so much a thing of chance. It was, (Mr. given? If so, he would thank him to state to the S. said,) to complete this refined process; to comHouse what mighty boon was accorded to the plicate it in such a manner as to effectuate this eastern section of the nation in return for that great object alone, that the office of Vice President remarkable provision of the Constitution, which was instituted. And I demand of gentlemen what permits slaves to become a basis of representation apology. they will make to the American people in that House, and which indeed renders them no for retaining this officer if the present amendment inefficient agents even in the choice of the Chief is to prevail ? What duties has he to perform Magistrate himself. For his part, Mr. S. said, he other than such as are devolved upon the Speaker would confess he knew not what recompense of the House ? Why will you pay him five thoucould have been adequate to so extraordinary a sand dollars, annually, merely to preside in the concession. In truth, neither he nor any other deliberations of the Senate, who might as well member present could declare the exact manner in elect one of their own body for that purpose ? which the jarring interests, the conflicting claims And why, sir, will you keep here a high officer, of the several States, were adjusted in Convention. with a liberal salary, for no other earthly purpose It, therefore, became a matter not only of delicacy than to enable him, from his proximity to the but of extreme hazard, to touch the instrument Government, to cabal with greater effect for the with ever so slight a hand, lest the arrangement, succession ? If pretensions to economy rest not thus happily made, should be broken down and solely in profession, gentlemen will now abolish destroyed.
this sinecure; they will finish their amendment Mr. S. said, he had ever understood the smaller by expunging the office of Vice President from States were, in Convention, peculiarly tenacious the Constitution. of that particular provision in the Constitution Mr. S. said he would close his remarks by seriwhich was now proposed to be modified. The ously asking gentlemen whether the present resoreasons were apparent--and they had been solution had not grown out of an overweening clearly and forcibly stated by the gentleman who anxiety to secure, at all hazards, the re-election of had preceded him, that it was quite unnecessary the present Chief Magistrate ? for him to detain the House upon that point. The The SPEAKER said it was improper to introduce consequence of those States, in the election of the Chief Magistrate into the debate. President, was thereby, in some measure, pre
Mr. Smith said he was not about to speak disserved ; they were enabled, in some degree, to respectfully of the President, but he would say counteract any combination which might be form- that no modification whatever of the Constitution, ed between four or five of the larger States to keep having for its object either to enlarge the power, the office of Chief Magistrate in perpetual rota- or to facilitate the attainment of that office, ought tion among themselves. But, Mr. S. said, cogent to be attempted, so long as the incumbeni, whoas these reasons were, he apprehended they were ever he may be, is considered as a candidate for a not the only object of the provision. He said, it re-election. Sir
, said Mr. S., I will again ask genwas no doubt desirable that the Executive power tlemen, whether they will suffer themselves to be of the Government should be vested in an individ- influenced on this great question by their prediual; but the Convention must have perceived, as lection for an individual ?" Are they prepared to indeed it was very obvious, that such an office in immolate the Constitution of their country upon an elective Government must become a prodigious an altar erected to private friendship and personal lure to ambition; that as the power, the patronage, esteem? Will they remember that the conservathe duration, and the emoluments of the office tive Senate of France desirous of furnishing a were augmented, in the same proportion would proof of national gratitude," proposed to the be the violence of competition between rival can- French people, to amend their constitution by didates, in the same proportion would the order creating Napoleon Bonaparte Consul for life! If and tranquillity of the nation be endangered at the two cases are not altogether parallel, who can the return of every election. This evil, so form- say there is much difference in principle? And idable in its nature, if not rescinded, is at least who, sir, will be answerable for the consequences, mitigated by the existing provision of the Consti- if the National Legislature will permit themselves tution. For, while it effectually secures to the to be governed by considerations of a personal nanation an eventual choice, it places it wholly be- ture, when acting upon a subject infinitely moyond the reach of any candidate to calculate con- mentous, not only to themselves but to remotest fidently on the issue of his pretensions. Such an posterity ? uncertainty, arising not from the casualties inci- Mr. Thomas said that he was in favor of the dext to ordinary elections, but from the circum- amendment as it then stood in the resolution, and
Amendment to the Constitution.
H. OF R.
hoped that it would receive the support of a Con- sentatives to vote for an amendment to the Constitutional majority of that House. At the same stitution, founded on the same principle with the time, he confessed that he should have been better present amendment. He presumed the gentleman satisfied had it gone no further than to designate from Massachusetts was ignorant of this fact, or the President and Vice President, because he he would not oppose the voice of the people of thought the more it was trammelled with detailed that State. provisions, the greater the hazard of its final rati- Mr. HASTINGS confessed his ignorance of this fication by the respective State Legislatures. circumstance. But, had he known it, he should
He was not at all alarmed at the variety of not have considered bimself bound to make sacriopinions which had been expressed on that ques- fice of his own opinion to such instructions. He tion, even by those in favor of the general princi- had no idea that, when a person was chosen to ple. On a subject of so much importance to the represent the people, he was under any obligation welfare of this country, it was natural to expect to pursue a line of conduct contrary to the dic. a difference of sentiment, as to its bearings, and tates of his own mind, whatever might be the the lengths to which it ought to go. He was instructions of his constituents. If, after a thohappy, however, to find the appearance of a dis- rough consideration of a measure, which he should position on the part of those honorable gentlemen be thus instructed to vote for, he should be conto concur in passing the amendment, since it em- vinced that it would operate against the interest braced the important object of designation, al- of his constituents, he asked if he were not under though it was not shaped exactly agreeable to a solemn obligation to act in opposition to his intheir wishes. He rejoiced to find that, with re-structions ? Because such measure, if carried into spect to the great principle contained in the effect, might operate to the disadvantage, perhaps resolution, there appeared but one opinion in that destruction, of the public good. He would not, House, unless it was from a quarter from whence however, enter into a discussion of this point, but we look for opposition on all occasions.
satisfy himself with saying that, if he was instructOn this question, however, said Mr. T., I do ed by every free citizen of Massachusetts to vote confess that I am greatly disappointed in finding for a measure, which, after mature reflection, he two of my honorable colleagues (Mr. LivingSTON was convinced would prove injurious, he should and Mr. G. Griswold) hostile io this measure; pursue the dictates of his own judgment and vote considering that the Legislature of the State from against it. which those gentlemen are Representatives, in Mr. Dana.—It is extraordinary that the gentleJanuary, 1803, unanimously recommended, in the man (Mr. Eustis) should rise to make this explamost impressive terms, the adoption of this nation. Does he mean to say to the Representaamendment to our Constitution, notwithstanding tives of the people, the State Legislatures may at that time a respectable minority of one branch, issue their mandates to you, and though they are and a large majority of the other, coincided with not your constituents, you shall, nevertheless, obey those gentlemen in political sentiment. Know them? They are not our constituents; they are ing this, Mr. Speaker, I did expect, and I think I not authorized to give us instructions; and we are had a right to expect, different conduct on the part not bound to obey them when given. of those honorable gentlemen on this occasion. Mr. Eustis said, he had barely risen to give the With the permission of the House, he would read honorable gentleman from Massachusetts informa letter addressed to him as a Representative of ation; he had not expected to call up his chamthe State of New York, on that floor, by the Pre-pion from Connecticut, behind him. He had risen sident of the Senate, and Speaker of the House of merely to state a fact, for the information of his Assembly of that State, enclosing two resolutions, colleague, as, from the observations he had made, one of which embraced this object.
it might be inferred that the State of Massachu[Here Mr. T. read the letter alluded to, and then setts was adverse to the principle of this amendremarked, that it was not his intention to enter ment. It was far from his intention to oppose the into the merits of the question; he only rose with sentiments of the Legislature of Massachusetts to a view to state this circumstance, and to express the will of that House. He honored the indehis disappointment in finding those gentlemen op- pendence his colleague expressed. It was, to be posed to this amendment.]
sure, an independence that went to the utmost Mr. Livingston said he should not have risen limit a Representative could have of his constitubut for the remark of his colleague, (Mr. Thomas.) ents. Yet, he did not censure him for asserting He had, at the time alluded to, the honor to be a lit.* member of the Legislature of New York, but he was in a small minority. He had then the same
* On a subsequent day, Mr. Eustis stated that he had opinion of the majority as at present. He did lature of Massachusetts, to which he had on a preced
made inquiry respecting the instructions of the Legisnot, therefore, imagine that anything that came ing day referred, without having been able to obtain from him would succeed, and did not think it in satisfactory information. He was inclined to think he the least useful to oppose himself to the torrent. had been in error in stating their existence; and, with
Mr. Eustis did not rise to discuss the merits of this impression on his mind, he considered it due to the amendment, but to answer the call of his col- his colleague (Mr. Hastings) to render an apology for league, (Mr. Hastings.) In 1797, as well as he the remarks he had applied to him. recollected, the Assembly of Massachusetts in- Since the period of the above debate, a letter has structed their Senators and advised their Repre- been addressed to the Secretary of the Commonwealth
H. OF R.
Amendment to the Constitution.
Mr. Thomas asked his colleague, (Mr. Living numbers to be represented. The natural reply ston.) as a member of the Legislature of New was, why not count our black people as well as York when justructions were given to vote for a you count yours? we enter not into your local similar amendment, whether a majority of the policy, por examine what kind of freedom you Senate of that State were not of the same politi- allow to black or white; yet they gave up twocal sentiments with himself ?
fifths of their slaves as a compromise, so the sacMr. Lyon said, he should not have risen on this rifice was made by them. For my own part, said occasion had he not heard the old subject of irri- Mr. L., the opporiunity I have had of feeling the tation harped upon. Gentlemen opposed 10 the operation of both the freedom and the slavery of amendment of the Constitution, under considera- the black people, convinces me that the blacks tion, had introduced the hackneyed topic of the who are slaves are much more useful and benefirepresentation of the slaves, and ialked of that as cial to the community and to the nation, accordbeing a sacrifice in the formation of the compacting to their number, ihan those that are free; and on the part of the States who held no slaves, and I always have considered this subject, when as included in the general compromise; for bim- brought up, as mere matter of exclamation, and self, although he had formerly the honor of repre intended to create popular murmur and dissenting a State where there were no slaves, and content. now had the honor of representing a State where On the question whether the resolution should slavery is allowed of, he had not changed his pass, it was carried in the affirmative-yeas 88, opinion, nor held two opiniors on the subject; he says 31, as follows: always considered the article of the Constitution
Nays—Willis Alston, jr., Nathaniel Alexander, Isaac alluded to as containing the compromise on that Anderson, John Archer, David Bard, George M. Bedsubject within itself, and that the sacrifice was on inger, Phanuel Bishop, William Blackledge, John Boyle, the part of the people where slavery is admissi- Robert Brown, William Butler, George W. Campbell, ble. Numbers was agreed on as the basis of rep- Levi Casey, Thomas Claiborne, Joseph Clay, Matthew resentation; it certainly was the best criterion io Clay, John Clopton, Frederick Conrad, Jacob Crownform an estimation of the property and of the inshield, Richard Cutts, John Dawson, William Dickability of the States to contribute to the public son, John Earle, Peter Early, James Elliot, John W. expenditure; but the States where the blacks were Eppes, William Eustis, William Findley, John Fowler, free, say to the States where the blacks were Peterson Goodwyn, Andrew Gregg, Wade Hampton, slaves, your slaves must not be counted in the
A quorum for this purpose shall consist of of Massachusetts on the subject, who has returned a
a member or members from two-thirds of the States; certified copy of the instructions, the nature of which and a majority of all the States shall be necessary to a appears to have been correctly stated by Mr. Eustis. It choice. And in case the Senators and Representatives will be perceived that their date varies from that stated of this State in Congress, shall find that the aforesaid by him, and that they are more recent by two years amendment is not conformable to the sentiments of a than he represented them. They are as follow: Constitutional majority of both branches of the National
Legislature, they are hereby requested so to modify the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
same as to meet the sentiments of such majority. Ix SENATE, Feb. 28, 1800. “ Provided, however, That any amendment which Whereas the Legislature of the State of Vermont, on may be agreed on, shall oblige the Electors to designate the fifth day of November last, passed two resolves, in the person they desire to be President, from the one the words following, viz:
whom they desire to be Vice President. “ STATE OF VERMONT.
“ Resolved, That his Excellency the Governor be “ In General Assembly, Nov. 5, 1799. requested forthwith to transmit the same to the Supreme “ Resolved, That the Senators and Representatives of Executives of the several States." this State in the Congress of the United States be, and Which resolves have been communicated by the they hereby are, requested to use their best endeavors Supreme Executive of the State of Vermont to the that Congress propose to the Legislatures of the several Supreme Executive of this Commonwealth. States the following amendment to the Constitution of Resolved, That the Legislature of this Commonthe United States, viz: That the Electors of President wealth have a high sense of the wisdom and patriotism and Vice President in giving in their votes, shall re- of the Legislature of the State of Vermont, and accord spectively distinguish the person whom they desire to with them in the opinion, that it is expedient that the be President from the one they desire to be Vice Presi- Constitution of the United States be amended in the dent, by annexing the word President or Vice Presi- manner contemplated in the aforesaid resolves of the dent, as the case may require, to the proper name voted Legislature of the State of Vermont. for; and the person having the greatest number of votes Resolved, further, That the Senators and Representafor Vice President, if such number be a majority of the tives of this state in the Congress of the United States whole number of Electors chosen, shall be Vice Presi- be, and they are hereby, requested to adopt thene cesdent; and if there be no choice, and two or more per- sary measures to effect the amendment aforesaid. sons shall have the highest number of votes, and those Resolved, further, That his Honor the Lieutenant equal, the Senate shall immediately choose by ballot | Governor be, and he is hereby, requested to communicate one of them for Vice President; and if no person have the foregoing resolves to the Supreme Executive of the a majority, then from the five highest on the list, the State of Vermont, and also to transmit copies thereof Senate shall in like manner choose the Vice President; to the Senators and Representatives of this Commonbut in choosing the Vice President, the votes shall be wealth in the Congress of the United States. taken by States, the Senators from each State having Approved, March 4, 1800.
H. OP R.
Moore, Jeremiah Morrow, Anthony New, Thos. NewNAYS—John Campbeil, William Chamberlin, Marton, jr. Joseph H. Nicholson, Gideon Olin, Beriah Paltin Chittenden, Clifton Claggett, Manasseh Cutler, Sam- mer, John Patterson, Samuel D. Purviance, John Ranuel W. Dana, John Davenport, Thomas Dwight, Calvin dolph, jr., Thomas M. Randolph, John Rea of PennGoddard, Thomas Griffin, Gaylord Griswold, Roger sylvania, John Rhea of Tennessee, Jacob Richards, Griswold, Seth Hastings, William Hoge, David Hough, Cæsar A. Rodney, Erastus Root, Thomas Sammons, Benjamin Huger, Samuel Hunt, Joseph Lewis, jr., Tho- Thomas Sandford, Ebenezer Seaver, John Smilie, John mas Lewis, Henry W. Livingston, Nahum Mitchell, Smith of New York, John Smith of Virginia, Richard Thomas Plater, Samuel D. Purviance, Joshua Sands, Stanford, Joseph Stanton, John Stewart, David Thomas, John Cotton Smith, William Stedman, James Stephen Philip R. Thompson, Abram Trigg, John Trigg, Philip son, Samuel Taggart, Samuel Tenney, Sam. Thatcher, Van Cortlandt, Isaac Van Horne, Joseph B. Varnum, and Lemuel Williams.
Daniel C. Verplanck, Matthew Walton, John WhiteLOUISIANA TREATY.
hill, Marmaduke Williams, Richard Winn, Jos. WinsThe bill sent from the Senate, entitled "An act ton, and Thomas Wynns. .to enable the President of the United States to Nays—William Chamberlin, Martin Chittenden, take possession of the territories ceded by France Clifton Claggett, Samuel W. Dana, John Davenport, to the United States, by the treaty concluded at Thomas Dwight, James Elliot, Calvin Goddard, ThoParis on the thirtieth of April last, and for the mas Griffin, Gaylord Griswold, Roger Griswold, Seth temporary government thereof,” together with the Hastings, Joseph Lewis, jr., Thomas Lewis, Henry W. amendments agreed to yesterday, was read the Livingston, Nahum Mitchell, Thomas Plater, Joshua second time, as follows:
Sands, John Cotton Smith, William Stedman, James Be it enacted, by the Senate and House of Repre
Step! on, Samuel Tenney, and Samuel Thatcher. sentatives of the United States of America, in Congress The House resolved itself into a Committee of assembled, That the President of the United States be, the Whole on the following bill : and he is hereby, authorized to take possession of and A bill for carrying into effect the Convention of the occupy the territory ceded by France to the United thirtieth of April, one thousand eight hundred and States, by the treaty concluded at Paris on the thirtieth three, between the United States of America, and of April last, between the two nations; and that he may the French Republic. for that purpose, and in order to maintain in the said Be it enacted, by the Senate and House of Repreterritories the authority of the United States, employ sentatives of the United States of America, in Conany part of the Army and Navy of the United States, gress assembled, That, for the purpose of carrying into and of the force authorized by an act passed the third effect the convention of the thirtieth day of April eightday of March last, entitled " An act directing a detach- een hundred and three, between the United States of ment from the militia of the United States, and for America and the French Republic, the Secretary of the erecting certain arsenals,” which he may deem neces- Treasury be, and he is hereby, authorized to cause to be sary, and so much of the sum appropriated by the said constituted, certificates of stock, signed by the Regisact as may be necessary, is hereby appropriated for the ter of the Treasury, in favor of the French Republic, purpose of carrying this act into effect ; to be applied or of its assignees, for the sum of eleven millions two under the direction of the President of the United States. hundred and fifty thousand dollars, bearing an interest
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That, until the of six per cent. per annum, from the time when posexpiration of the present session of Congress, or unless session of New Orleans shall have been obtained, in provision be sooner made for the temporary government conformity with the treaty of the thirtieth day of April, of the said territories, all the military, civil, and judicial eighteen hundred and three, between the United States powers exercised by the officers of the existing Govern of America and the French Republic, and in other rement of the same, shall be vested in such person and spects conformable with the tenor of the convention persons, and shall be exercised in such manner as the aforesaid; and the President of the United States is auPresident of the United States shall direct, for main- thorized to cause the said certificates of stock to be taining and protecting the inhabitants of Louisiana delivered to the Government of France, or to such perin the full enjoyment of their liberty, property, and son or persons as shall be authorized to receive them, religion.
in three months at most, after the exchange of ratifica8th Con.-18