Page images
PDF
EPUB
[blocks in formation]

In consequence of the continued indisposition of Mr. WIRT, Mr. TAZEWELL moved an adjournment of the court till to-morrow, when his physicians thought he might be sufficiently restored to attend the trial.

The court accordingly adjourned.

The Senate then proceeded to the consideration of Executive business; and, after spending some time thereon, adjourned.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 13.

[SENATE.

nent footing the one hundred and twelve thousand dollars which had been invested in three per cents. for these Indians. No gentleman could doubt that it was competent for the Government to appropriate that sum permanently for their use and benefit. The object of the second section was to appropriate an additional sum sufficient to make up the difference between six thousand dollars and the three per cent. interest for 1830. Mr. Morris had purchased lands from the Seneca tribe, and had agreed to pay one hundred thousand dollars for them. That sum was to be placed in the hands of the President, as their old Bank of the United States, which yielded six per The VICE PRESIDENT presented a letter from one cent. While the charter of that bank continued, there of the physicians of Mr. WIRT, expressive of the opinion was no difficulty on the subject. After it expired, the that he could not at present leave his room, without some money was vested in three per cent. stock, which did not danger of a relapse at a more important crisis in the pend- yield six per cent. For reasons satisfactory to them, the ing trial, and that by Monday he would be entirely re- Government paid the deficiency annually, out of the constored to health. tingent funds of the War Department, until this adminis On motion of Mr. SMITH, of Maryland, the Court ad-tration came into power. They deemed the practice imjourned to meet again on Monday next, at twelve o'clock.

The Senate again resolved itself into a Court of Im- trustee, and to be used for the purchase of stock in the peachment.

THE SENECA INDIANS.

The Senate resumed its legislative character, and took up the bill to provide for the payment hereafter of an annuity of six thousand dollars to the Seneca tribe of Indians.

proper; and the President had, therefore, presented the subject to the consideration of Congress. The simple question was, whether it would be right and better to make up the difference for one year, in preference to a misunderstanding with these Indians. He thought it would be better to make it up for 1830, and to make a similar appropriation for the present year, until the matter Mr. FORSYTH said he did not recollect the particulars could be fixed on a permanent footing, than that any disof this bill; but he was under the impression that the Go- content should be permitted to exist on the part of the vernment was under no obligation to pay the money pro- Indians. The investment in three per cent. stock had posed to be appropriated to these Indians. He called upon been made without the knowledge or consent of the some gentleman of the committee by whom the bill had Indians. They had no part in it. The Government had been reported, to say whether the obligation of the Go- done it of its own accord, no doubt from the best of movernment was not to invest one hundred thousand dollars tives, probably because the best investment that could be for the Seneca Indians; and whether that obligation had made at the time. He thought the bill ought to pass. not been performed? Mr. SMITH, of Maryland, said that the Indians had

Mr. DUDLEY replied, that, by the treaty with these always expected six per cent. If the one hundred and Indians, the United States were bound to invest in the twelve thousand dollars in three per cent. were sold at President, as trustee for them, in stock of the old Bank this time, they would, he believed, produce more than of the United States, the sum of one hundred thous- one hundred thousand. He could see no objection to the and dollars. The charter of that Bank had expired. bill.

The money was then invested in six per cent. United Mr. FORSYTH said that his object had been answered States' stock. That stock having been reduced, three in bringing this subject before the Senate. It was admitted per cent. stock was purchased by Government for the that the United States had received no property from Senecas. The Government, nevertheless, thought it these Indians. The lands had been obtained by Mr. their duty to continue to pay them six per cent. and did Morris; and because the Government had been made trusuntil a year or two ago. Since that time, the War De- tees in the case, they must pay this six per cent. in perpartment conceived that there was no law to justify the petuity. The simple question was, whether the United payment of more than the three per cent. upon the States shall now bind themselves to a perpetual appropriamount of the investment. The Indians refused to receive ation of upwards of two thousand six hundred dollars per it. The object of this bill was to give an authority to pay annum, merely because they had assumed to become the the six per cent. These Indians were much in want of trustees for these Indians. Mr. F. concluded by asking the money. Some of the tribe were now here waiting the Secretary of the Senate to read that part of the treaty for it. with these Indians, under which the obligation in question had been incurred.

Mr. FORSYTH believed the statement of the member from New York to be correct, and, if so, it appeared that Mr. SANFORD inquired what were we bound in good the obligation of the Government had been performed. faith to do to those Indians? We were now ourselves conWere we then bound to give these Indians six per cent. struing the treaty with them. What was the understandfor ever? Their hundred thousand dollars, with the profits ing of the Indians of this treaty? All the acts done under upon the sale of that sum, amounting to twelve thousand it had been our own acts. By these the Indians undermore, were secured to them. The Government might be stood that they were to receive six per cent. upon the bound to invest the money in the most profitable stock one hundred thousand dollars. This Government had for them, but not to secure them six per cent. He con- thought so. The compact had been heretofore so considered it best to leave the matter as it stood, or to make strued by us, and so understood by the Indians. All the a more profitable investment of the money, if that could changes in the investments for them had been our own be done. These Indians had been deceived; too much acts. They knew nothing of them. The present was a indulgence had heretofore been shown to them by the ad- new construction of the compact with them, with which ministrators of the War Department; and this had been a they had nothing to do. It had been done without their deception, leading them to suppose that they had a claim assent. He was in favor of the bill.

to six per cent. per annum upon the original sum invested | Mr. SMITH, in order to obtain some information on the for them. subject, moved to lay the bill on the table till to-morrow Mr. WHITE said the bill provided for two objects. morning. The object of the first section was to put upon a perma

It was accordingly so ordered.

SENATE.]

FRIDAY, JAN. 14.

[blocks in formation]

of the expense, he had relied on mercantile gentlemen better qualified than he was to judge.

Mr. NOBLE submitted the following resolution: Resolved, That the Commissioner of the General Land Mr. TAZEWELL said, in substance, that he considered Office be directed to communicate to the Senate copies the bill to be unconstitutional; that, if it were based upon of all the proceedings on file in his office, relative to the that article of the constitution which authorized Congress location of lands in the State of Indiana, by the Commis- to regulate commerce, it involved a more extensive exer sioners appointed on the part of the State of Indiana, and cise of power, that of enabling the President to send the Commissioner or Agent appointed by the authority vessels along the coast to pick up wrecks, than had ever of the United States, under the act entitled "An act to been claimed, even under that clause. Before the bill authorize the State of Indiana to locate and make a road could be passed by Congress, and approved by the Presitherein named;" also copies of all letters addressed to him, dent, the effects of the storm would be over. He doubted relating to the subject of the location of the land in ques- the power of Congress to pass the bill, and he considered tion; together with the decision of the late acting Com-that it would be very partial in its beneficial operation. missioner of the General Land Office on the subject. Mr. LIVINGSTON said he had not expected to hear

Mr. N. said he was aware that, by the rules of the Sen- the extraordinary objection which the Senator from Virate, it required their unanimous consent to consider the ginia had urged against the bill. He did not derive his resolution at this time. He hoped that such consent would constitutional authority for the bill from the clause for rebe given. His object was to receive copies of all the gulating commerce, but from the general power of the evidence in the office of the Commissioner of the General Government to protect commerce, and to manage our Land Office, public and private, which had a bearing upon foreign relations. Whence did we derive the power to the subject embraced in the resolution which he had build light-houses, beacons, and buoys? What argument offered. It was a duty which he owed to the people of was there for employing the navy on such occasions, that Indiana to make the call for the evidence, upon a subject did not equally authorize the employment of merchant He was satisfied that the people vessels? He knew of none.

which interested them.

the Senate to act.

a

So much for the constitu

It

of that State would never yield to the decision given to tional objection. Now for the expediency of the measure. the act of Congress named in the resolution, by the late He did not think that it was to be ridiculed out of the acting Commissioner of the General Land Office. He ex- Senate by the suggestion, that these vessels were to be pected that the Legislature of the State of Indiana, now sent to pick up wrecks. They were to be sent out to in session, would, by memorial to Congress, shortly re- prevent wrecks; not to remedy the mischief, but to prepresent the rights of the State by fact and law, or to some vent it. The storm had now lasted four days. It was not other tribunal. To meet their views promptly, when over. The wind was still high. Vessels had been, prothey arrive, he desired all the evidence officially, to enable bably, driven forty or fifty leagues from the coast. might be days, and weeks, and months, before some of them could get into port. Their seamen might be frozen; their rigging stiff with snow and ice. In this situation, they would consider the relief proposed to be sent to them, as a messenger from heaven. The constitutional objection weighed nothing with him. If the measure were, as it would be, useful and humane, that was enough for him in the present instance. It was not New York only, but the Capes of Virginia, and elsewhere, from which vessels could be promptly despatched, to rescue ties, incident to this stormy season. our seamen from the fatigues, and dangers, and calami

The resolution was then, by unanimous consent, read second time, and adopted.

The remainder of the day was spent in disposing of other motions, and debating the bill for the relief of Peters and Pond, of Boston.

Adjourned to Monday.

MONDAY, JAN. 17.

A message was received from the House of Represen tatives, announcing the resolution of that House to attend the Senate, from day to day, during the argument in the impeachment now pending against JAMES H. PECK, District Judge of Missouri.

Mr. SILSBEE said that the proposed measure would not be confined to one port. Orders could be immediately sent to New York, Norfolk, and Charleston, to afford the relief from suffering and danger so well described by the Senator from Louisiana. Some small vessels, with beef, pork, and other articles, could be at once provided to meet ships in distress, and would truly be considered as angels from heaven. No one who had not experienced them, could imagine the distress to which our seafaring people were liable at this season of the year. As to the expense, more revenue would probably be saved by the measure than it would cost.

THE STORM-VESSELS IN DISTRESS. Mr. LIVINGSTON, by unanimous consent, introduced a bill to enable the President to employ, without delay, two or more vessels, with supplies of men, provisions, and other necessaries, to cruise off the coast of the United States, for the purpose of supplying and succouring vessels that may have suffered by stress of weather during the present inclement season, and appropriating fifteen thousand dollars for carrying the objects of the bill into effect. Mr. TAZEWELL said he should interpose no other In asking leave to introduce this bill, Mr. L. said that objection than his vote to the bill. He had asked the its object was to relieve our vessels and seamen that honorable Senator from Louisiana, whether he found his might be on the coast at this very inclement season. Those authority for this measure in the power of Congress to only who had been in vessels in that situation, could real-regulate commerce? but he had received no new light ize the suffering and distress to which they and their crews upon the subject. The gentleman and he differed on were exposed. The bill was intended to enable the Pre- constitutional questions from the bottom. He could not sident to fit out two or more ships, to supply them with find this authority in the power to create and support a men and provisions that might be needed at this trying navy, nor in the power to control our foreign relations.

moment.

Mr. HAYNE inquired whether the object was to authorize the President to send out armed vessels belonging to the navy, or merchant vessels, and whether any estimate of the expense had been obtained.

Mr. LIVINGSTON replied, that the President would despatch on this service any vessel that might be ready for it, whether merchantmen or others. As to the amount

What, sir! the power to protect our own ships to be
found in the power over our foreign relations? He re-
peated, that, before this bill could pass into a law, the
mischief would be done. The danger was not at Savan-
nah, Charleston, or New Orleans; it would be greater
along the coast of Maine than any where else. The storm
raged there with the greatest violence. It was not con-
templated to send any relief to that coast.
The spots

JAN. 18 to 22, 1831.]

Relief Vessels.--Impeachment Expenses.--Trial of Judge Peck.

most exposed would derive the least benefit from the

measure.

Mr. SILSBEE explained. It was Charlestown, in Massachusetts, to which he had alluded. The effects of this storm were not over. They might last thirty or forty days. Vessels within one hour's sail of port might be blown off for leagues. Many vessels would be in that situation. It was to supply such ships with men and provisions that this bill has been introduced.

[SENATE.

tional authorities which they intended to produce in support of the impeachment.

The court and Senate then adjourned.

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 19,

After disposing of some morning business, the Senate resumed the impeachment.

Mr. MEREDITH addressed the court for three hours, in defence of the respondent. Having become exhausted in physical strength before he could conclude his speech, the court, at three o'clock, adjourned.

Mr. HAYNE moved to refer the bill to the Committee of Commerce, and suggested that this reference would enable the Senate to afford relief in the most efficient manner. He also suggested that the Government now possessed the means to extend the most prompt aid to vessels in distress. A circular from the Treasury Department of Impeachment.

THURSDAY, JANUARY 20.

The Senate spent the principal part of to-day as a Court

could put in immediate requisition our revenue cutters for Mr. MEREDITHI continued, without concluding, his arAfter one or two additional remarks from Mr. WOOD-gument in defence of the respondent.

this purpose.

BURY, Mr. SMITH, of Maryland, and Mr. LIVINGSTON,

the motion of Mr. HAYNE was negatived, and the bill was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading.

Mr. LIVINGSTON then moved that the bill be forthwith read a third time, and passed.

The VICE PRESIDENT stated that this motion required the unanimous consent of the Senate before it could be adopted.

Mr. BROWN objected to it, and it could not, therefore, be received.

TRIAL OF JUDGE PECK.

The Senate then again resolved itself into a High Court of Impeachment.

Judge CARR appeared at the bar, and was permitted to make some explanation on a point of his former testimony. Mr. SPENCER, of New York, a manager on the part of the House of Representatives, then rose, and addressed a very learned and able argument to the court in support of the impeachment. Having concluded at four o'clock, the court adjourned.

RELIEF VESSELS.

The Senate having resumed its legislative character, Mr. BROWN withdrew the objection which he had made this morning to the third reading of the bill for sending relief vessels off our maritime coast; and it was then read a third time, and passed by the following vote, Mr. FORSYTH having required the yeas and nays.

YEAS.-Messrs. Barton, Bell, Burnet, Chambers, Chase, Clayton, Dickerson, Dudley, Foot, Frelinghuysen, Hendricks, Johnston, Kane, Knight, Livingston, Marks, | Naudain, Noble, Robbins, Ruggles, Seymour, Silsbee, Smith, of Maryland, Sprague, Webster, Woodbury.-26. NAYS.-Messrs. Benton, Brown, Ellis, Forsyth, Grundy, Hayne, King, McKinley, Poindexter, Robinson, Smith, of South Carolina, Tazewell, Tyler--13. Adjourned.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 18.

After receiving petitions, resolutions, and reports of committees, the Senate again resolved itself into a High Court of Impeachment.

Mr. WICKLIFFE, one of the managers of the House of Representatives, commenced an argument in support of the impeachment at twelve o'clock, and concluded at a little past three. He advanced and maintained the positions that Judge Peck had no legal jurisdiction over the ! publication of Mr. Lawless, even supposing it to have been a contempt, for which he imprisoned and suspended him; and that, in truth, that publication was no contempt at all. Mr. W. defended the liberty of the press with energy and zeal.

Mr. BUCHANAN and Mr. STORRS stated, for the information of the counsel of the respondent, who will to morrow commence the argument in his defence, the addiVOL. VII.-3

FRIDAY, JANUARY 21.

IMPEACHMENT EXPENSES.

The bill making provision for the payment of the witnesses, and of other expenses incurred in the trial of James H. Peck, District Judge of the United States for the District of Missouri, was taken up. [The bill allows each witness four dollars per day, and twenty cents mileage for travelling expenses.]

Mr. SMITH, of Maryland, said that the witnesses who had attended the trial of Judge Chase had been allowed but three dollars a day, and twelve and a half cents mileage. He wished to know the reasons which had induced the committee to increase the compensation of the witnesses and the mileage in the present case.

Mr. IREDELL replied, that when Judge Chase was tried, the pay of members of Congress was six dollars: it was now eight dollars. The committee conceived it but just to fix the compensation to the witnesses at one-half of that which was allowed members.

Mr. GRUNDY said that another consideration showed the propriety of the increase. These witnesses had come from a much greater distance than the witnesses in the case of Judge Chase. Most of them were professional men, and had, by their absence from home, lost nearly a half year's practice. He should vote for the four dollars, and would have voted for six dollars if that sum had been in the bill.

The blank in the bill was filled with the sum of twelve thousand dollars for the expenses of the trial; and, thus amended, it was engrossed, read a third time, and passed

TRIAL OF JUDGE PECK.

The Senate then again resolved itself into a High Court of Impeachment.

Mr. MEREDITH continued his argument for the respondent until half past three o'clock, when the court and Senate adjourned.

SATURDAY, JANUARY 22.

The Senate having again resolved itself into a Court of Impeachment,

Mr. MEREDITH concluded his argument at twenty minutes past one o'clock.

Mr. WIRT then rose to address the court for the respondent. He regretted that he had been the unwilling cause of so much delay in the progress of this trial, and thanked the honorable court for the humanity of the indulgence which they had extended towards him. His friend might also have consumed much more time, in the opinion of some, than was necessary; but it would be recollected that two-thirds of that time had been used in reading precedents from the books. In a case in which the respondent was so deeply concerned, it would be a dereliction of duty on the part of his counsel, if they were

SEXATE.]

Trial of Judge Peck.

[JAN. 22, 1831.

to relinquish any of the ground which the honorable ma- with the respondent. He admitted an equality of infirmity nagers had deemed material to their argument; and time with the honorable managers. This honorable court had probably been saved by the reading of the books would decide between them. To what other cause than which had been produced by his colleague. It would not prejudice could he impute the language in which the rebe necessary to read them again. He should content him- spondent had been held up as a judicial tyrant, a petty proself with bestowing upon them a few passing remarks vincial judge, a monster, walking over the fallen bodies of when he should come to the cases which they presented. the constitution and laws of his country? This picture of Some topics which had, he could not but presume, been wickedness and horror had been sent as far as the press introduced for effect, it would be necessary for him to no- could range; as far as the wings of genius and eloquence tice. In doing so, he begged to be understood as treating could send it. Many a father in the remote parts of the the honorable managers with every possible respect. He country had read this account with feelings of abhorrence. knew the amiable, upright, and enlightened qualities With the paper in his hand, he had probably said to his which adorned them. Whatever they had deemed of im-son-see, what a monster is now before the Senate of the portance, he could not be so presumptuous as to pass by United States! If your country should ever elevate you to unregarded. It had been stated that the House of Repre- public station, never become such a monster as this Peck. sentatives, by a large majority, in which party had no He may no doubt have had respectable parents; he may share, had voted this impeachment. What was the object once have been respectable himself; but see what a monof this remark? Why was it introduced here? Could it ster of crime, of shame, and of ignominy, he has now beenter into the consideration of this honorable court, whe- come! How long would it not be before this cruel error ther the House of Representatives had been hasty or not; could be corrected; before it would be seen, upon the teswhether party had influenced them in the vote which they timony of the most respectable gentlemen, that this mongave for this impeachment? Would it be decorous in the ster was one of the most mild, patient, kind and courteous respondent, or in those who were connected with him, to of human beings: so amiable, that, in the language of one impeach their proceedings? He knew too well his duty of the witnesses, he was dear to all who knew him. He to that honorable House, to this honorable court, and to could not help ascribing the terrible picture which had his humble self, to step so far out of his way as to question been drawn of the respondent, to some unaccountable prethe motives for this impeachment. The House of Repre- judice. He adverted to other topics, of which the honorsentatives were the grand inquest of the nation. Their able managers appeared to him to have taken a discolored article of impeachment against Judge Peck was the finding and distorted view. of the grand jury. Would it be proper, in a case before a The respondent had been represented as an enemy to petit jury, for counsel to appeal to the proceedings of the the freedom of the press; a principle sacred to all. He grand jury; to say that they had, by a large majority, un- was represented to have scoffed at it. This judicial moninfluenced by party spirit, found a bill of indictment? ster was described as having walked over the prostrate Would not the court, in that case, stop counsel, and say liberty of the press, and as having attempted to sneer and to him, sir, we have nothing to do with the grand jury, snarl it out of existence. Where had he said this of it? or its motives; we are to try this case upon its merits, Where had he uttered one sentiment of disrespect towards without reference to what passed in the grand jury on the the liberty of the press? Not here, certainly. But he subject? The finding of the grand inquest is simply the had done so in his defence before the House of Represen accusation. The honorable House had not come here to tatives, which had been introduced as evidence here, for sacrifice a victim whom they had fore-doomed to destruc. the purpose of establishing this charge against the respontion. They had done nothing more than to declare that dent. Look at that defence, and see whether he has the offence with which the respondent had been charged, treated the liberty of the press with contempt. was worthy of a trial. The respondent was not there, said, that in punishing this publication as a contempt, the before the honorable House, upon his trial. They had judge has invaded the liberty of the press." What is the sent him here to be tried. What was the fundamental liberty of the press? And in what does it consist? Does feature of a trial of that sort? It was, that the accused it consist in a right to vilify the tribunals of the country, was presumed to be innocent until he had been found and to bring them into contempt, by gross and wanton guilty. But, if the remark of which he was now complain- misrepresentations of their proceedings? Does it consist ing were to have weight, that principle would be reversed. in a right to obstruct and corrupt the streams of justice, The accused was to be presumed to be guilty until proved by poisoning the public mind with regard to causes in to be innocent. He hoped to hear no more of the majo- these tribunals, before they are heard? Is this a correct rity, or the motive by which this impeachment had been idea of the liberty of the press? If so, the defamer has a instituted by the honorable House. He considered such charter as free as the winds, provided he resort to the remarks improper. The respondent stood here unknown, press for the propagation of his slander; and, under the almost alone, a stranger from the western wilds, to breast prostituted sanction of the liberty of the press, hoary age the storm of this impeachment. He trusted to this honor- and virgin innocence lie at his mercy. This is not the idea able court for a fair trial, and relied upon the correctness, of the liberty of the press which prevails in counts of jusand innocence, and purity, of his own conduct, for an ho- tice, or which exists in any sober or well regulated mind. norable acquittal. He would be tried by the simple, na- The liberty of the press is among the greatest of blessings, ked facts and principles of the case, and not by the dramatic civil and political, so long as it is directed to its proper obexhibition of fancied analogies which they had witnessed. ject, that of disseminating correct and useful information Was the respondent to be involved in the turpitude of all among the people. But this greatest of blessings may bethe wicked judges of England; in the guilt of the unspar- come the greatest of curses, if it shall be permitted to ing Jeffreys, the tumultuous Scroggs, and the tyrant Brom-burst its proper barriers. The river Mississippi is a blessley? He trusted not: he hoped that he would be tried ing to the country through which it flows, so long as it upon his own merits alone. He admonished the honorable keeps within its banks; but it becomes a scourge and a managers, that something was continually occurring to destroyer when it breaks them. "The liberty of the remind us of the infirmity of human reason contending press has always been the favorite watchword of those who against human prejudice. This must teach charity to all. live by its licentiousness. It has been, from time immeHe apprehended the existence of some extraordinary pre-morial, is still, and ever will be, the perpetual decantantum judice which had influenced and inflamed the spirit of this on the lips of all libellers. Oswald attempted to screen prosecution. He, too, might be the victim of prejudice; himself under its ægis, in the case which has been cited of that friendship which a close intimacy had produced from the 1st Dallas. But the attempt was in vain. The

"It is

JAN. 22, 1831.]

Trial of Judge Peck.

[SENATE

court taught him the difference between the liberty of the mencement of this trial, been subjected to a commentary press and the licentiousness of the press, and, in his fur- so severe, what might not be expected in its sequel? It ther attempt to raise an impeachment against the judges had been charged upon the respondent, that he had dared for that sentence, the House of Delegates confirmed the to attempt to buy off this impeachment by an intimation wholesome lesson. If, indeed, the liberty of the press was that he was entitled to consideration and exemption, bea panoply broad enough to cover every thing done in its cause he had decided the case of Soulard in favor of the name, nothing in the form of a publication could ever have United States. It had been alleged that he had tried to been punished as a contempt of court. In all the report- buy off the House of Representatives by dirty acres. If ed cases, in which those publishers have been called to he had done so, he was a vile and degraded man, and, he answer for a contempt, wherever the defence has appear- would add, one of the most consummate fools that ever ed in the report, it is the liberty of the press which is the sat upon the bench. But where had he said this? At perpetual theme. It is uniformly claimed to be the right the close of his defence, he [Judge Peck] observed, of the citizen to question the acts of all public men, and that, in this proceeding, he was actuated by a sense the changes are continually rung on that great palladium of official duty. He considered it his duty to sustain of human rights and human happiness-the liberty of the the dignity and authority of the court over which he press; as if human rights and human happiness could be had been appointed to preside: he considered it due to promoted by the prostration and destruction of courts of the Government which he represented; due to the trijustice, or by poisoning their streams in the fountain head. bunal, and due to the suitors whose rights were comIt is unnecessary to pursue this subject. The judge has mitted to its protection, to punish this contempt as he did never pretended that his opinions are not to be questioned. punish it. He did consider himself, and does still consider He insists, however, that they are to be questioned only himself, as sustained, at every step, by the highest authoriaccording to the laws of the land. One mode of question-ty. He believed it, conscientiously, to be his solemn and ing them, under these laws, is by appeal to a superior imperious duty to make the example which he did make, court; and, after the subject-matter shall have been finally more especially in relation to the country in which he decided, another mode of questioning them is, by respect-holds his courts, and the nature of the claims which he ful discussion, either in the public prints or elsewhere. was called upon to adjudicate, and which had produced In the present case, the first mode of questioning the opi- this agitation. If, in so doing, he has erred, he has erred nion, that by appeal, had been resorted to. For the second in company with judicial characters with whom any judge mode, that of respectful discussion, the case was not ready, may be proud to associate; and he has yet to learn that because the subject-matter had not been disposed of final- such an error would be a high misdemeanor in the sense ly; and even if it had been, it has been shown that there of the constitution of the United States. Judge Peck is was no semblance of investigation in this article; no pre- perfectly aware of the purposes to be answered by his tence of discussion of any kind. It was sheer misrepre- removal, and is, therefore, not at all surprised at the persentation; and it does not follow, that, because an opinion of tinacity with which it has been sought for the last four a court may be respectfully discussed, it may, therefore, be years. Whether these purposes are such as the interests misrepresented; much less, that it may be so misrepresent- of the United States call upon them to countenance, by ed as not only to impair the confidence of the public in the ordering further proceedings in this case, is a question dignity, intelligence, and purity of the tribunal, but to ren- for others, not for Judge Peck. Confident he is, that, if der both the judge and the court objects of universal con- he had been made of more pliant materials, and could tempt, scorn, and ridicule; and least of all, that, in doing have reconciled it to himself to consult his repose, rather this, a strong prejudice shall also be infused into the pub- than his sense of duty, the House would not have been lic mind with regard to causes still pending in the court." troubled with this inquiry." Was this, sir, a proposition to Was this [demanded Mr. WIRT] a sneer at the liberty of buy off impeachment? Was this the language of a man the press? Was there here any snarl at the liberty of the crouching under the charge which had been alleged against press? Was the declaration, that it was the greatest of hu- him? There was no attempt, here, to screen himself by man blessings, confined to the dissemination of truth and a bribe; by an appeal to the interest of the honorable intelligence among the people, an attempt to bring the li- House of Representatives. It was the language of a man berty of the press into contempt? Was not the doctrine indignantly asserting his innocence, and turning upon his here laid down by the judge the sound doctrine concern-accuser. It was no attempt to buy off punishment. Let ing the liberty of the press? And would it not meet the candid and honorable men read and decide for themselves. approbation of all, except the libeller? To be useful, the There was another circumstance which he felt himself liberty of the press must be restrained. The principle of called upon to notice with unspeakable regret. He had restraint was impressed upon every part of creation. By heard of it with pain, while confined to his bed. The restraint the planets were kept in their orbits. The earth respondent, held up, as he had been, before these crowdperformed its regular evolutions by the restraint of the ed galleries, and this assembled multitude, as a judicial centrifugal force operating upon it. The vine would shoot monster; a petty provincial tyrant; thus caricatured, eminto rank luxuriance, if not under the restraint of the laws paled and crucified, before this nation, with these lacerated of nature, by which every thing was preserved within its feelings, having occasion to speak to a point of evidence, proper bounds. Was not every thing on earth impressed he had betrayed an emotion with his trembling hand; a with this principle? and was not the liberty of the press to tear had started from his eye. Was it wonderful that the be restrained to the performance of its rightful functions respondent, innocent and simple-hearted as a child, with of propagating truth for just ends? It was not always those who were loudest in their clamors for the liberty of the press, who were its best friends. There be those who, when they hear those bursts of genius and eloquence upon the liberty of the press, could say, like poor Cordelia

"Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave

My heart into my mouth: I love your Majesty
According to my bond; nor more, nor less."

He thought there had been no occasion for the remarks which had been made on this subject. Judge Peck loved the liberty of the press with as much purity as those who had been so loud in its praises. If he had, in the com

his reputation at hazard; with an aged parent, whose gray hairs he did not wish to send down to the grave with sorrow, should have thus betrayed his feelings on the occasion? Yet, an honorable manager [Mr. WICKLIFFE] had represented him as shedding feigned tears, crocodile tears, before this assembly and this nation. Did the honorable manager recollect the prosecution of Sir Walter Raleigh by Sir Edward Coke? Did he remember the spirit in which that prosecution had been conducted? Did he recollect that Sir Edward Coke had stigmatized that gallant soldier as a spider of hell? Let him ask the honorable manager which character he would rather bear with pos

« PreviousContinue »