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JANUARY, 1804.

Official Conduct of Judge Chase.

H. of R.

gentleman from Virginia, as well as other mem- The committee reporied that, in their opinion, bers on this floor, were then in the House. The they contained evidence of his guilt, and he was case being, I believe, the only one in which there impeached. In the case of Judge Pickering, the was a charge of treason, excited, in a considerable same course has been pursued. The Executive degree, the attention of members, many of whom transmitted documents to the House which conattended the trial. How comes it, then, that this tained, as it was supposed, proofs of misconduct, charge was not then made ?' If it shall be said and the House proceeded to an impeachment. the House did not interfere at that time because These precedents confirm the principle of those the criminal was lying under sentence of death, drawn from the practice of the British House of it will be recollected that, in 1801, Fries was par- Commons. What course is now proposed ? Withdoned. Why was not the inquiry then made? out any charge against the judges, without any If it shall be said that it would have been impru- man saying they are guilty of any misconduct, we dent to make it on account of the party then in are about to appoint a secret committee, to deterpower, why was it not made in the seventh Con- mine whether any charges can be made, and gress, when a change of men took place ? How whether any proofs to support them can be found. can gentlemen reconcile this great delay with the Although I am willing that the conduct of these high regard they profess for the purity of the gentlemen shall be investigated, for I am sure they streams of justice, and for justice itself? For must desire it, and although I have no objection such is the respect they entertain for justice, that to impeach them, if gentlemen wish it, and exthey have determined to bring to conviction this hibit proper proofs on which to ground it, yet I unjust and criminal judge. Gentlemen ought to cannot consent to pursue a course so improper as account for this culpable neglect. It is impossible that now proposed. For this reason I am against that they should have been ignorant of the trial the resolution, not because I am hostile to an inof this man. It was not a sudden or a hidden vestigation, but because I cannot consent to the thing, done in a corner; it was done in public, in appointment of a secret committee to search, in the face of the Legislature, and yet it has slept to the first instance, for an accusation, and to look the present day. Under such circumstances, I for proofs to justify it. submit it to the House, whether much respect Mr. FINDLEY rose to explain. He said it was ought to be paid to the hearsay of the gentleman not the object of the House, in their investigation from Pennsylvania. The very delay, and other of the causes of the failure of the Western expecircumstances attending this transaction, show dition, to make new arrangements, but to inquire that it is not of the serious nature contended. I into the conduct of certain officers who had directtherefore think that, if properly brought before ed it, viz: the Secretary of War, the Commanderthe House, and suffered to rest upon proof, it in-Chief, and the Commissary. would constitute no ground for impeachment. Mr. Nicholson said, he happened not to be in

As to the proposed form of proceeding, if we the House yesterday at the moment when the examine precedents, we shall find that it is not resolution, under consideration, was introduced ; warranted by them. None mentioned compare and when he entered he found the gentleman with the case under consideration. The prece- from Connecticut (Mr. R. GRISWOLD) on the floor, dent in the case of Lord Bolingbroke does not com- who concluded his remarks by moving a postponepare with that. In that case the House of Com- ment. Mr. N. did not think it then correct to mons raised a secret committee to examine the offer remarks upon the main question, but as the negotiations made for a peace. The committee resolution itself was now under consideration, was not raised to impeach Lord Bolingbroke, but and the subject of no common nature, he could to investigate the negotiations of the Ministry; not think of passing a silent vote upon it. and on the disclosure of facts, which took place When he rose, to-day, for a few moments, on on that occasion, the impeachment was grounded. the motion to amend, by inserting the name of Such, also, was the case in the instance of the Judge Peters, he had then declared, and he now Western expedition. The House' appointed a begged leave to repeat it, that whenever any memcommittee vested with general powers to inquire ber of the House should rise in his place and state into the causes of its failure, without particular that any officer of the Government had been guilty reference to the conduct of any person.

of official misconduct, he had no hesitation in If we turn our attention to British precedents, saying, that he would consent to an inquiry. He we shall find that a committee has never failed to cared not how exalted his station, or how far he investigate the official conduct of any person con- was raised above the rest of the community; the templated to be impeached. In the case of Hast- very circumstance of his superior elevation would ings, Mr. Burke came forward and moved an im- prove an additional incitement. Such, he said, peachment directly. In all cases this course has was the nature of the Government, and so importbeen pursued in the British House of Commons. ant the duty, in this respect, devolved upon the So far as we have had precedents in this country, House of Representatives, that the conduct of the a similar course has been pursued. In the instance Chief Magistrate himself, as far as his vote could of Governor Blount, the Executive transmitted effect it, should be subjected to an inquiry whenever, documents to this House, which contained, as it it was demanded by a member. The greater rewas supposed, evidence of his guilt, they were sponsibility, the more easy and more simple should referred to a committee to examine them, and also be the means of investigation. Were he, indeed, to determine whether it was proper to print them. the friend, personal or political, of the officer

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H. OF R.

Official Conduct of Judge Chase.

JANUARY, 1804.

charged, and he believed that impeachment would the party was condemned without a hearing; be the result of inquiry, it was possible that his that he was denied the assistance of counsel, feelings as a man might induce him to forget his which was secured to him by the Constitution of duty as a Representative, and urge him to resist his country; that the right of the jury to decide the inquiry ; but, were he convinced of his inno- both the law and the fact was refused; for it cence, he would do all in his power to promote it, amounted to a refusal when the court would not in order that he might stand justified to the nation permit the jury to be assisted by the arguments of and to the world.

counsel. He asked if gentlemen would consider Upon the present occasion, he begged that he it correct in a court, upon an indictment for murmight not be understood to say that the offence der, to prohibit the prisoner's counsel from conwith which these judges were charged, was such tending before the jury, that the offence charged as would warrant an impeachment. But, while amounted to manslaughter only? Surely not. he meant not to commit himself on a question of The question, in the case of Fries, was, wherber such high moment, he could not avoid expressing the act of which he had been guilty amounted to his astonishment that the conduct stated should treason, or to a misdemeanor ? and this the court pot only be defended upon the floor of the House, refused to suffer the jury to have an argument but entirely approved ; ihat gentlemen should ven- upon. He declared that, in all criminal prosecuture to declare that the court acted strictly in the lions, the jury had a clear, undoubted right to de line of their duty, in refusing to hear counsel on a cide, as well the law as the fact; they were not point of law which involved the guilt or ihe inno- bound by the direction of the court; and that, in cence of the prisoner. A man was charged with capital cases, it was a right which they ought the highest offence against the Government, and, always to exercise. But, in Fries's case, the law if guilty, was subject to the severest and most was not permitted to be brought into the view of ignominious punishment recognised by our laws. the jury by his counsel; the court denied to the High treason was the crime, and death the pen- prisoner the assistance of counsel, which was alty. The Constitution declared that treason secured to him by the Constitution, and he was against the United States should consist only in condemned to an ignominious death, which he levying war against them, or in adheriog to their must have suffered but for the subsequent interenemies, giving them aid and comfort. The fra- ference of the Executive. Mr. N. said, he had mers of the Constitution intended to be as precise thought proper to make these remarks in answer as possible in their definition of treason, they were to those gentlemen who had undertaken to proanxious that no room should be left for doubt nounce the conduct of the court to be strictly afterwards. They had seen to what an infinite correct. Although he did not mean to commit variety of objects the crime of treason had been himself by declaring that this afforded sufficient extended in England, and wisely confined it here ground for impeachment, yet he could not avoid to the only two offences which could be said to saying, that the refusal to bear counsel in defence strike at the existence of the Government. The of the prisoner, did not meet his approbation. laws of the United States had declared that re- The gentleman from Connecticut bad doubted sistance to the execution of a law should only be whether the present proceeding was conformable considered as sedition, and had provided the pun- to principle. He thought that we ought to have ishment of fine and imprisonment. Fries was the proof before we take any steps to procure it. charged with resisting the execution of a law, and Mr. N. begged leave to ask how proof was to be this offence the court determined to be treason, procured before inquiry was made ? In what without hearing his counsel, and refused to per- manner information was to be obtained before it mit them to address the jury on the subject, al- was sought for ? If a member had stated upon though the jury were the judges as well of the oath that a judge had been guilty of improper law as the fact. A resistance io the execution of conduct, which would warrant an impeachment, a law, they construed to be treason, in the face of the motion would not be, in the first instance, to the act of Congress, which declared it to be a mis- inquire, but io impeach. If information was nedemeanor only: punishable with fine and impris cessary, how was it to be procured? By sitting onment. These constructive treasons, he said, here, and writing for depositions to be sent in ? had been reprobated by the wise and good in all surely not. If a person was in the lobby, acages, and at a very early period in the history of quainted with all the facts, how were they to be English jurisprudence had received the pointed communicated to the House ? Was he to come disapprobation of the Parliament. He adverted to the bar, and offer a voluntary affidavit, or would to what he called wise and humane provision in it be correct to introduce him without any previthe statute of Edward III., by which the judges ous proceeding? In that case, would it not be were prohibited from declaring anything to be necessary to declare, by a prior resolution, that we treason not so expressly defined by the letier of would commence an inquiry before testimony the statute. That the court had given such an could be offered at the bar? If a member should opinion, was not now, however, the point of state that a witness was at hand who could prove charge against them; that they extended the doc- official misconduct in a judge, the correct course trine of treason beyond both the letter and spirit would be to introduce a resolution, declaring that of the Constitution, was not now the foundation the House would inquire, and it could not be reof the present motion. The accusation was that, sisted. What, he asked, was the proposed course? in a case involving the lite or death of a freeman, Instead of making the inquiry in the House, it

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JANUARY, 1804.

Official Conduct of Judge Chase.

H. OF R.

was requested that it might be made by a com- this committee is to be clothed with the same mittee. Instead of using our power to bring powers ? All committees appointed to inquire, witnesses before us, it is proposed to authorize a might, to be sure, be called Inquisitorial, because committee to examine them. This would be they were to make inquiry, but the epithet of more convenient and more proper. To bring them Spanish inquisition was intended to convey an before the House would be attended with incon- idea totally incorrect. venience, and unnecessary delay. He could not The gentleman had asked why this charge bad tell what the mode of proceeding before the House been suffered to rest so long ? The facts upon of Representatives would be, but, generally, he which it was made were said to have taken place believed. it was the practice for a member to pro- in 1860. Mr. N. thought it would be fair to reply pound the question to the Speaker ; the Speaker to the gentleman that, possibly, he himself had, in then to propound it to the witness; the answer to some measure, accounted for the delay; the proper be made to the Speaker, and by him reverberated time had not before arrived. But if the act upon back again to the House. He asked, if the House which the charge was grounded was criminal at would consent to this? If they would agree to a that day, was it less so now? If Justice had course of proceeding so tedious, so procrastinating, slept so long, did it follow that she was dead ? so evidenily embarrassing? And yet this must He hoped and trusted not. Though she had lain be the course, unless that proposed was adopted. dormant till she was almost trampled to death,

It was said by a gentleman from Connecticut, she was again roused to her accustomed vigi(Mr. R. Griswold) that we were about to ap- lance, would pursue her victims, and drag them point a committee to ransack the country for an to punishment. The day of retribution, he hoped, accusation, and afterwards to search for proof to was at hand. support it. He complains that no accusation is The gentleman from Connecticut had declared made. Mr. N. averred that an accusation was that the proposed course was not warranted by made; it was made during the last session, and precedent. He had noticed, but had not explained again repeated during the present. He asked, if away, the precedents introduced by the genileman it was no charge to declare that a julge had con- trom Pennsylvania, (Mr. FINDLEY.) His own demned a man to the most ignominious death, precedent, derived from the impeachment of Mr. without a hearing; without allowing him those Hastings, instead of being in his favor was directbenefits which he claimed under the Constitution? | ly against him. Was it a trivial circumstence for a member of In that case it was not pretended that the proof this House to declare that a freeman had been in- was before the House of Commons. Mr. Burke dicted for a high capital offence; that he appeared had derived his information from certain papers at the bar and pleaded not guilty; that his counsel relative to Indian affairs, which some years before were ready to prove the truth of the plea, but had been produced and referred to a select comthat the presiding judge had refused to hear them? mittee. In the year 1786, Mr. Burke rose in his If this was not a charge, and a charge, too, of a place, not as a member of that committee, and most solemn nature, he did not understand the charged Warren Hastings with high crimes and meaning of the words. It was brought forward misdemeanors. About the same time he presented as boldly as the gentleman from Connecticut could a wriiten paper containing a specification of these wish, and the only question now was, in what charges. But this was not the impeachment. The manner shall we inquire into the truth of it? writien paper stated that as Governor General of Shall we appoint a committee to make the inquiry Bengal he had disobeyed the instructions of the by calling witnesses before them, or shall we dis- court of directors; that he had acknowledged himmiss it without investigation? Shall we give it self perfectly acquainted with their wishes, but inthe go-by, and suffer the character of the judges stead of obeying, had used his utmost endeavors to rest under an imputation so heavy? Shall we to defeat them; and much more of an important proclaim our own dishonor, by publishing abroad nature. This he moved might be referred to a that a heavy charge had been made, in the face of Committee of the whole House, in order that an this House, against one of the highest judicial offi- inquiry might be made; and there was not a single cers of the Government, and that we were too dissenting voice. He did not adduce the proofs pusillanimous to notice it?

in the first instance, but stated his opinions that What the gentleman meant by comparing the Mr. Hastings's conduct had been criminal, and deproposed committee to the Spanish Inquisition, manded an inquiry. The Commons of England Mr. N. did not really understand. Did the gen- did not hesitate-they instantly resolved to inquire. tleman wish to make a false impression upon the No one was heard io declare that there was no public mind? Was he anxious to cast an odium charge, because there was no proof. Wilnesses upon the proceeding by calling it an inquisitorial were brought to the bar and there examined by a committee, and affecting to believe that it was to Committee of the Whole, in support of thecharges; be clothed with the powers of the Holy Inquisi- nor was there a motion to impeach until the testion? The Inquisition had the power to seize timony was gone through. On the contrary, the the person of the party, to deny him all access to facts proved were reported by the Committee of his friends, to confine him in a cell, and refuse him the Whole, wholikewise expressed an opinion that all assistance whatever; to stretch him on the Warren Hastings had been guilty of high crimes wheel, and rack and torture him into confession and misdemeanors, and ought to be impeached. Does the gentleman wish to induce a belief that I The impeachment therefore was not upon the

H. of R.

Official Conduct of Judge Chase.

JANUARY, 1804.

motion of Mr. Burke, but upon the report of a com- under other circumstances might have furnished mittee, who under the instruction of the House had materials for an impeachment. The gentleman made an inquiry.

from Connecticut was a member of that committee, What then, Mr. N. asked, was the course now and Mr. N. asked him if he would pretend to say proposed ? His friend from Virginia had called that it was a secret committee, as he had called the attention of the House to certain alleged mis- that now asked for? Or was this only another conduct of a judge, which had been stated by a attempt to impose upon the public? member in his place during the last session. That Another precedent, he thought, might be furstatement had again been repeated in the House / nished from the Journal, but he was unwilling to yesterday, not in writing, indeed, but in language refer to it. so clearand in terms so unequivocalthat none were It had been said, too, that impeachments would so stupid as'not to understand it. Like Mr. Burke, ba cheap if they were to be made upon the sughe asked that a committee should be appointed to gestion of a member. It appeared to him that inquire into the truth of the charge. The House the motion to inquire had been constantly misof Commons had referred the subject before them taken for a motion to impeach. Did gentlemen to a Committee of the Whole, and the House of suppose that an impeachment must necessarily Representatives were moved to refer the subject follow an inquiry? It would seem as if they enbefore them to a select committee. A select com- tertained a poor opinion of those whose conduct mittee was proposed, because it would be more was the subject of discussion. But they ought to convenient and more expeditious. If the subject recollect that the impeachment could not be the might with propriety be referred to a Committee act of any individual, nor of the committee, but of the Whole, with equal propriety might it be of the House; and this, too, after all the facts referred to a select commiliee.

were collected and presented, with the evidence He had noticed this precedent, not because he to support them. If this mode was not to be thought it necessary to cross the Atlantic for au- adopted, he did not know any other manner in thorities, but because the gentleman had introduced which an impeachment could be instituled, unless it as favoring his own doctrines. If there was where the President thought the peace of the already no precedent, in his opinion the House country or the revenue were endangered, and ought to make one; but he believed their own gave the information himself, as in the case of Journals would furnish them with one. At the Governor Blount and Judge Pickering. Nor did first session of the seventh Congress, in a very few he think this could affect the independency of days after the House met, Mr. N. said he had risen judges, unless they were to be made independent in his place, and stated that he had seen in the pub- of the laws, the Constitution, and the people. lic prints, during the preceding Summer, charges Had it not been for the debate which had taken of a serious nature against an individual who had place on this subject, he should have imagined filled one of the highest stations under the Gov-ihat the friends to the judge would have been the ernment, that he had misapplied considerable sums first to promote the inquiry, after it was moved of public money, and was a defaulter to a very for. If he was innocent, the inquiry ought to be large amount. 'Upon this vague rumor, he had wished for: after passing through the ordeal, he moved that the accounts of the former Secretary would come out like pure gold from the crucible. of State should be laid before the House. Nogen- If guilty, no man ought to feel a disposition to tleman then declared that it was necessary to have screen him from punishment. Mr. N. could not proof before an inquiry took place. No one dreamt avoid on this occasion alluding to the recent conthat information as to facts was to be had, before duct of a judge in a neighboring State, upon it was sought for. Some indeed had asked how whose character an imputation of the blackest far the motion was to extend; whether it was to nature had been thrown by a miscreant. That embrace all the other Secretaries of State? Others judge, conscious of his own rectitude, and disdesired that the accounts from all the departments daining to shelter himself from inquiry, demanded should be called for, and finally it was determined an investigation of the charge, and the conseto let ihe resolution lie for a short time. In a few quence was an entire and honorable acquittal. days after, on the 14th of December, he mod- Mr. Elliot.— When, in the course of a late deified the resolution, in conformity with the wishes bate in this House, it was observed that a memof several gentlemen, and it passed, directing that ber had advanced an anti-republican sentiment, " a committee should be appointed to inquire and the supposed imputation was repelled by the rereport, whether moneys drawn from the Treasury mark, that the gentleman to whom allusion had had been faithfully applied to the objects for which been made, had passed a political ordeal which few they had been appropriated, and whether they had had experienced, and which ought to place his charbeen regularly accounted for," &c. A precedent acter as a republican above the reach of suspicion. more in point he thought could not be desired. I have myself suffered an ordeal of that description, The inquiry was produced, not upon proof, not undercircumstances of gloom and depression which even upon the suggestion of a member, but because have fallen to the lot of but few young men of a report as to the misapplication of public money this country; and I am far from being confident had circulated through the public prints of the day. that one ordeal only will fill up the measure of He might be told perhaps that this was an inquiry my humble fortune. A more anti-republican resoof a general nature. But general as it might be, luiion than the one upon your table. sir, I think I it was directed at the conduct of individuals, and never saw. Reflection has confirmed me in the

JANUARY, 1864.

Official Conduct of Judge Chase.

H. OF R.

opinion which I expressed yesterday, that it is the province of the court to determine points of unprecedented, unparliamentary, and tends to the law, declared that their opinion was fixed upon assumption, on the part of this House, of a cen- those points, and even forbade the counsel to prosorial and inquisitorial power over the Judiciary, long their arguments upon them, it might still be unwarranted by the Constitution. The intention questionable whether the conduct of the court and object of the mover, however, must have rendered its members liable to impeachment. A been extremely different; the motive is pure and venerable gentleman from Pennsylvania, (Mr. the object meritorious; but that honorable gen- Findley,) who has long been in the service of tlemañ, with all his talents and discernment, has, his country, has been incorrect in stating that I in my opinion, fallen into an error. I believe it had observed that I would never go into the ina sound principle, that no official measures should quiry without evidence; that incorrectness must be taken to censure or criminate the conduct of a have been unintentional; if I used an expression public officer, until facis shall be stated which of that description, it was a lapsus linguæ ; but amount to a specific and definite charge of mis- I am confident that I said, and I am certain that conduct. In the present instance we have no .I intended to say, that I thought it improper to written allegations, and what is the amount of the institute the inquiry until some fact or facis should verbal information with which we are furnished ? | be stated as a ground of accusation. A gentleA gentleman from Pennsylvania has stated in his man from Virginia (Mr. JACKSON) has told us place that he has heard that some one of the that common fame is sufficient ground for imjudges, whose name appears in the resolution, was peachment in Great Britain. That gentleman guilty of improper and oppressive conduct, in the has not adduced his authorities for this proposiexercise of his judicial functions, on a trial for tion, and, had he adduced them, I am confident treason some years since. And a gentleman from they would not have answered his purpose, when Virginia has stated that he has received informa- contemplated in all their bearings, when examtion which induces him to believe that the in- ined with all their qualifications. The same genquiry he demands will lead to an impeachment. tleman also observed, if I understood bim corIs it our duty to act upon the vague rumors of rectly, that were he satisfied that the conduct of common fame, or the opinions of individual the judges, in the case alluded to, was legal and members ?

correct, he would still vote for the inquiry. To The resolution under consideration has been me this declaration appears extraordinary. Why materially altered this morning. and I gave my vote for an inquiry when satisfied that no crimivote for the alteration, because I believed that the nality existed ? misconduct of a court ought not to be attributed A gentleman from Pennsylvania, (Mr. Smilie) to a single judge.

who contends that there is no necessity for preI feel it my duty, Mr. Speaker, to remark, that cedent in the present instance, as we are compethe information which is possessed by the mem tent to form precedents for ourselves, has yet bers of this House, respecting the conduct of those thought proper to explore the books for precedents, judges, is extremely contradictory. No gentle and has presented us with the result of his labors. man has told us that he possesses personal knowl- To guide our conduct on the present occasion, we edge of the misconduct imputed to those officers; are referred to the case of the Earl of Strafford, over and I possess information on the subject, derived whose tomb genius and virtue love to mourn, and soon after the transaction, from a source which I will mourn in future ages! It cannot be possible considered as authentic, and which produced so that that gentleman wishes to recommend for our deep an impression upon my mind, that I should imitation that flagrant perversion of every princiscarcely abandon my belief of its authenticity, ple of law and justice, ihat cruel catastrophe! A even from the general recollection of persons who gloomy and terrible precedent, one of the most were present at the scene. I understand that the dark and disgraceful in the British annals, and judges did nothing more or less than decide a utterly unsusceptible of application to the princilegal question in a legal manner. They did not ples of a Republican form of Government. The interdict the counsel for the prisoner from exam- gentleman from Maryland, (Mr. Nicholson.) ining a question of law, but they restricted them to whom I listened with peculiar pleasure, and to what they considered as their legal and Consti- who has certainly displayed ingenuity, has been tutional limits. They told them that the Consti- equally unfortunate in his selection of precedents, tution of our country had clearly and explicitly and in his application of them to the case under defined the crime of treason, and confined them to consideration. He has cited cases, which, by his the plain field of the Constitution, inhibiting them own statement, militate against the principles he from a resort to British authorities to prove that assumes. We are first presented with the celeto be treason which the Constitution of our coun- brated case of Warren Hastings. In that case, try had not made treason, or to prove that what a member rose in his place, and after accusing our Constitution had made treason, was not rec- Hastings of high crimes and misdemeanors, exognised as such by foreign precedents. This state-hibited specific charges of malconduct, in conment may be incorrect, and, if it be correct, the sequence of which an inquiry was instituted. conduct of the judges may have been improper Here is a solid basis, and the very basis which is and severe, but it cannot justify an impeachment. wanting on the present occasion, upon which to And if the court went farther, interrupted the erect the superstructure of impeachment. That counsel for the prisoner, informed them that it was I gentleman has also mentioned a resolution intro

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