صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]

Virginia Resolutions.

[MARCH 3, 1834.

exercise of a power inconsistent with their freedom and peace. The power of appointment and removal, even people-of those who gave him public leave to speak in Mr. G. said he claimed, as a representative of the when most discreetly and forbearingly used, is a fearful in their behalf-to act as sentinel over the public trea discretion to confide to any one man. Mr. G. said he did not himself believe the President of worthy to speak in the name of those who sent him. He sure; a post he would never yield, so long as he was the United States had an intention to usurp the liberties greatly regretted it; he considered it one of the evil omens of his country, but he did believe his present course of ac- of the times; and high as was his respect for the distintion would be recorded as a monument, and some future guished body of which he was a member, he could not man of ambition might become, by his example, master of but deeply lament that, on such a question-on a questhe confederacy. representatives of the people are seen rallying on the tion of taxation-of liberty-a majority of the immediate side of power. He was deeply mortified that the Congress of the United States had not, unanimously, instantly The constitution of Virginia contains a provision, that though he had no intention to make any illiberal imputareproved this perversion of executive authority; and althe Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Departments of tion on the members of Congress, who were, he doubted Government should be kept separate and distinct, so not, as honorable a body, as could any where be found, that neither should exercise the powers properly apper-yet he would say that, if the people of the country sustaining to the other. In the Federal constitution, the de- tained their representatives in yielding to this overwhelmmarcations of the several departments are distinctly made. ing executive power, he should consider that the liberties The legislative, executive, and judicial powers are as- attempted to be secured by this constitution were gone signed to their appropriate organs.

The General Assembly of Virginia have considered it as a question involving the separation of the powers of a free constitution, and not as a question of bank or no

bank.

forever.

glance at the past course of the ancient Commonwealth of Mr. G. said the occasion was a fit one to take a rapid Virginia in relation to this Government. She had ever

The legislative power is vested in Congress-there was none given to the President. He is not a representative of the people; he is the executive officer, appointed by the people. His power of veto is not a legislative power; contended for a strict construction and faithful execution it ought to be, as it is, a mere negative. No money shall of the limited, though extensive, powers delegated by the be drawn from the treasury without an appropriation by compact to Federal functionaries. Jealous of power every law; and the question was submitted to the House, as where, diffusing and limiting it in her own Government, the guardian of the treasury-if large sums of the public she has looked always with apprehension on its too great money have not been withdrawn from the bank without accumulation in any of the departments of this Governan appropriation made by law? It seemed to be con-ment. tended by those who justify the course of the President, floor in reproof of undelegated authority in the Legislative that he, and the officers under him, had the right to use Department of Government. During the administration Her warning voice has often been heard on this the money of the public as they pleased, in the interval immediately preceding this, she thought she perceived in. between the time of its collection and the time of its the assertion of powers in this Government by the then appropriation; that they can place it where they will, Chief Magistrate an alarming tendency to consolidation of and loan or deposite it to whom they will; and contract all the powers of the States in this Federal head; and, what those receiving it shall do in return. this to the test of ordinary transactions in private life. An out into action, she rallied in opposition to their bare asLet us put although these assertions of authority were not carried agent has power to collect money for his principal; does sertion, and gave her support to the present Chief Mait, therefore, follow that he has the power to use it for his gistrate, under the confident hope that he would administer own purposes, lend it out, or make contracts on it? Has he the Government in a spirit of moderation, according to the any other power than to collect and keep it, and pay it constitution, and bear himself with a meekness and simover to his principal as soon as possible? ident by this simple test, and it will be found he has used stitutions, and thus adorn the high military reputation Try the Pres- plicity in his high office congenial to the spirit of our inmillions of the public treasure in a manner not sanctioned by which he had attracted the admiration of his countryby the authority under which he acts. enue, on deposite, I suppose usually amounts to between was elected; and, for the first years of his administration, The public rev-men. By her powerful aid, the present Chief Magistrate $7,000,000 and $8,000,000, and the fair interest for its use she stood almost in solid phalanx, supporting all his great is worth nearly half a million of dollars annually. Can measures. any one be so blind as not to see the influence and power which such a use of the revenues of the country must add she perceived, after the second election of the present But it has been with feeling of deep mortification that to the already too extensive patronage of the President? Chief Magistrate, in which she so heartily co-operated, a Is it deemed that the President, or those who surround disposition to enlarge his authority, and to administer the him, have a right to remove the revenue from the places powers conferred on him in a harsh and overstrained appointed by law, except in a manner prescribed by law? [manner. In this whole matter the President has no direct authority

to act.

Those of us who stood here last year well remember Mr. G. said there was another great principle of free- Magistrate, at the opening of the session, diffused over the universal satisfaction which the message of the Chief dom invaded, which he never would surrender. claimed, as a freeman-as a citizen of Virginia, one of the paper ever sent to this House, with the feeling of modeHle the entire South. members of this great confederated Union-either by ration and principles of government always cherished by It conformed, more than almost any himself, or his representative, to tax himself. great principle of English liberty, that taxes were the mendations, it recognised the principles of the nullification It was a the Commonwealth of Virginia. In some of its recomfree gift and grant of the Commons: and he believed, if of South Carolina, the ultima thule of State rights. It the King of England should at any time invade or impair was calculated to destroy nullification itself, by curing all this right, he would hear from his indignant subjects those evils for which its advocates contended it was the that no more taxes would be paid until there was a re- rightful remedy. form. He insisted that, as Congress only could raise revenue, so also could they alone direct every thing appertaining to the revenue, both as to its preservation and distribution.

in our affairs by this message in six short days was ruffled But what are mortal hopes? The smoothness produced by the storm engendered by that fatal proclamation, so hateful to all lovers of a free confederacy of the States;

MARCH 5, 1834.]

Virginia Resolutions.

[H. of R.

Mr.

denouncing as traitors those who professed and paid alle-its exercise he could control all the officers of Government giance to the laws of the State that gave them birth, when in the discharge of their duties under the law, and that in contact with the Federal authority; and that proclama- a difference of opinion with him is a just cause of removal tion followed up by a special and argumentative message, from office, all the other departments of the Government claiming for this Government of delegated and limited must fade away under the gigantic powers given to the authority unlimited power over the States, as parties de-President, and the people awake from their dream of legating that authority; and this message sustained and liberty, and find that, instead of an association of free and ratified by the Legislative Department, by a grant of the confederated States, they had, in fact, erected a despotism, whole military and naval and fiscal power of the Govern- whose horrid features had not been visible until the veil ment, to prostrate a gallant and talented State of this was withdrawn by the President. confederacy, who had dared to stand for the restoration of But it cannot be; the power of removal does not long lost rights, and remonstrate against unconstitutional rightfully imply a power of control and direction; othertaxation! When we saw a majority of this House and the wise, the President, to all intents and purposes, would be other voting that declaration of war against all the States, the Government; and there is no effective limit to his which throws the sword before the judgment of the courts, authority, either under the law or the constitution. He and subjects this once free confederacy to martial law at knew that the advocates of power were never at a loss the will of the President and his collectors, the Common- for precedents; they are an inclined plane, down which wealth of Virginia, whose constitution consecrates the every Government has slid into despotism; and it was trial by jury, by declaring that it should be held sacred; the duty of Congress to inquire whether this power of when we saw and felt these things, it was impossible not removal was a power conferred by the constitution, or to recoil from them; and now, after having compromised, implied, and given by the Legislative Department; and, in and, for a time, settled the conflicts of interest and opin- either case, to curb and keep it within strict limits. ion which gave rise to these hateful measures, and the G. trusted that good would arise out of evil; that this country had become, in a great degree, composed and rash and inconsiderate conduct, on the part of the Presat peace, the President of the United States, in the wan-ident, would ultimately tend to place the Government on tonness of power, has struck a blow on the financial affairs surer and safer foundations; and when it was found, of this country, the fearful vibrations of which are heard in practice, that there had been an unequal share in the and felt to the extremities of the confederacy. He had distribution of the powers of this Government given to, given the death-blow to the Bank of the United States by or assumed by, the President, that those for whom the his veto; it would have died-it must have died-because Government was established will, in either case, apply the President's tenure of office was longer than that of the remedy. Mr. G. said that, in regard to the present the charter of the bank. But the President, sixty days expediency and wisdom of the course of the administrabefore the meeting of Congress, without any public ne- tion, there would, amongst all those who would extend cessity, had done a deed of fearful note. In a commu- their view to the whole circle of our affairs, be but one nity of five hundred banks, with a paper circulation in- opinion. In this young and growing country, compreterwoven with every interest of society, and affording the hending a territory as large as Europe, in rapid career of actual currency of the whole confederacy; carrying on advancement, deficient in nothing but capital and labor, all the exchanges, foreign and domestic, of this great con- and the efforts to increase both have eventuated in givtinent of States; ministering to the commercial, manufac-ing to the United States that most extended system of turing, and agricultural industry and enterprise of the banks and paper circulation, said to amount to five hunCountry-over the varied and complicated strings of such dred banks, and nearly one hundred millions of paper an instrument he has thrown his gigantic but unskilful hands; and the dissonant and jarring sounds which he has produced return upon his ear, and discompose the nerves of the whole community.

circulation; and the credit of these banks and this currency, dependant entirely upon public confidence, was as delicate as the sensitive plant, and had shrunk from the rude touch of the hand of unauthorized power. The President had destroyed the public confidence in the public currency; and the consequence was, universal clamor and almost universal despondency.

These resolutions of the General Assembly deny to Congress the constitutional power to make a Bank of the United States: in which he entirely concurred; for on a former occasion he had voted against rechartering the He said he felt proud of the position which the Conbank, and at the last session he had voted against the re-monwealth of Virginia occupied; he trusted her continued solution in reference to the safety of the deposites in the efforts in the cause of constitutional liberty would reBank of the United States; not because he considered dound to the peace and honor of this confederacy; askthem unsafe, but because he had no opportunity, from the late period of the session, to examine the subject; and he feared the resolution would aid the bank in a future effort for a charter: on his part, that was a mere negative vote. He felt that, on presenting these resolutions, and delivering his own views of the powers of this Government, he was performing no very acceptable service to a very large party in this House. He believed the question of bank or no bank must arise before the session terminates, and, when it does, he would be found standing by his native State, on the narrow isthmus which she occupied, in strenuous though unavailing efforts to roll back the waves of legislative or executive encroachment on the constitution and liberties of his country. But whilst Mr. PATTON, of Virginia, rose and said, that, by one he believed that Congress had no constitutional power to of the resolutions, the Governor of the Commonwealth of incorporate a bank, it should not, and does not, mitigate Virginia was "requested to transmit a copy of these resoluthe conduct of the President for an unconstitutional violations to each of our Senators and Representatives in the tion of its chartered and vested rights. He confessed that Congress of the United States." That the Governor, in the doctrines and practices of the Chief Magistrate had compliance with this request, had sent to him a copy of greatly alarmed his mind; he believed that, if the President these resolutions, accompanied by a letter. He believed had properly construed his right of removal, and that by a similar letter, addressed to his honorable colleague and

ing nothing for herself, her most fervent wish was to see this part of the Government guided according to those constitutional landmarks, in the establishment of which she had some agency; and, in conclusion, he trusted that he might be permitted, without offence to any, to say that the Commonwealth of Virginia was happy in the purity of her own principles and purposes, sufficiently rich in the spontaneous gratitude which, on all great occasions, she had excited in her sisters of the confederacy, and glorious in being the disinterested creditor of mankind, in the large advances and generous examples she has made in the cause of freedom.

When Mr. G. had concluded

H. OF R.]

Virginia Resolutions.

[MARCH 3, 1834.

friend, by whom the resolutions had been presented to the charter establishing the Bank of the United States is the House, had been sent to the Chair. He wished that made in violation of the constitution of the United States, letter, as being the official evidence of the authenticity of the resolutions, and as being a part of the "res gestæ," to be read; after which he desired, with the permission of the House, to make some remarks, both in relation to that letter and the resolutions of the Legislature. [The letter was then read as follows:]

"EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, VIRGINIA,
February 13, 1834.

and a "dangerous encroachment on the sovereignty of "the States." This omission, however, is of little conse. quence. But the Governor goes on, after describing the resolutions in his own way, to express to the representa tives of the people of Virginia on this floor his hopes that our "efforts and exertions will be used in restraining the disposition which the President has manifested to extend his official authority beyond its just and proper limits, "SIR: In compliance with the request of the General which he has so clearly manifested in his recent interfe Assembly of the Commonwealth, it gives me great pleas-ernment." Now, sir, this is going beyond what the Le rence with the Treasury Department of the Federal Govure to transmit to you the accompanying resolutions adopted by that body, disapproving the recent act of the gislature thought proper to request us to do. And who President, in withdrawing and withholding the public de- gave the Governor of Virginia the official authority thus posites from the bank, where they had been placed by the here? I beg leave to say, having respect for him personto express his wishes and expectations as to our course This dangerous and alarming assumption of power receive from Governor Floyd, or, indeed, from any other ally and officially, no one would more gladly than myself has already inflicted deep and lasting misery upon the citi-intelligent source, any information, argument, and advice, zens of this Commonwealth, which your efforts and exer- calculated to assist my own judgment in coming to a cortions in the Congress of the United States, it is hoped, rect conclusion on the interesting and important questions will aid in alleviating, as far as practicable, and restraining the disposition which the President has manifested to extend his official authority beyond its just and proper limits, which he has clearly manifested in his recent interference with the Treasury Department of the Federal

law.

Government.

"I am, sir, with respectful consideration,

"Your obedient servant,

"JOHN FLOYD."

now depending. But I cannot recognise his right to do addressed to us, the representatives of the people, in the so under the garb of official authority-in a letter missive style of a high potentate, as if we were ambassadors of the Governor of Virginia "near" the Federal Government. I protest against this unauthorized interference by the Governor of Virginia with the deliberations of the Rep resentatives of Virginia on this floor. I owe no repre sentative allegiance to the Governor of Virginia. I ac Mr. P. again said that he had to perform the somewhat knowledge no authority to control my course here but ungracious duty of showing that the Governor of Virginia, the constitution, my constituents, and a sacred regard for in the letter just read, had-he would not say "manifested the principles of justice and the obligations of public duty. a disposition to extend his official authority beyond its just Do we not all recollect with what general indignation, at and proper limits," for he meant to impute no improper least in a large portion of Virginia, the proclamation of dispositions to the Governor-"extended his official au- the President against the State of South Carolina was thority beyond its just and proper limits." And, although received, and particularly that part of it in which he dehe regarded it as an assumption of power neither "dan-nounced the public authorities of that State as traitors and gerous nor alarming," yet as, in the language of the pre- rebels? I felt and expressed my decided condemnation amble to the resolutions of Virginia, (in which, so far, he of this mode of treating the constituted authorities, legis. entirely concurred,) "all experience of the practical ope- lative and executive, of the State of South Carolina, by rations of Governments has proved that arbitrary assump- the Federal Executive, in a paper which I considered not tions of power by them, or any officer of them, if silently only unsound in its doctrines, as to the character of the acquiesced in, become precedents for further and still confederacy, but unnecessary, as well as unbecoming in greater acts of usurpation," he felt it to be his duty to the its tone and temper. I have no doubt the Governor of House, to his constituents, and to the people of Virginia, | Virginia regarded it in the same light; and I expect no to protest against the authority assumed by the Governor one was more ready to disapprove the act of the Presi of Virginia, and thus to prove that his efforts and exer- dent, in sending forth to the public his cabinet manifesto tions" might be relied on to restrain and rebuke all and of the 18th of September last-a proceeding, in my esti every extension of authority by the President of the Uni- mation, unprecedented, unjustifiable, and undignified. ted States, or by any executive officer of this Govern. How can we object to these things in the President of ment, or that of Virginia, whenever manifested to him. the United States, and be expected to receive, with s And now, sir, I beg leave to ask (said Mr. P.) by what lent acquiescence in its propriety, the gratuitous and u right the Governor of Virginia undertakes, in his official authorized anathema of the Governor of Virginia against character, to throw the weight of his authority into the the Executive authority of this Government. This Gor scale, for the purpose of influencing the judgment of the ernment, as well as the Government of Virginia, derives representatives of the people of Virginia on this floor? He its authority from the people of the sovereign State of was simply requested to transmit a copy of the resolutions Virginia; and it becomes us, as citizens of Virginia, and, as to each of us-to do the mere ministerial duty of sending such, citizens of the United States, to rebuke any wanton the resolutions authenticated by him as the official organ and unauthorized official denunciation by the Executive of the Assembly for that purpose. There is certainly officer of either Government towards the Executive officer nothing objectionable in his giving a description of these of the other, When the Governor of Virginia thus deresolutions. It would, I think, however, if he thought nounces the supposed usurpation of the President of the proper to describe them at all, have been better to have United States, in a style and form which constitutes neither given a more full and accurate description of them. more nor less than an assumption of power, it brings to While, however, he says it "gives him great pleasure" my mind a droll story which I lately met with in a news (of which I have no doubt) to communicate the resolutions paper; and, as Dutch anecdotes seem to be in vogue, I disapproving the "recent act of the President," he omits beg leave to read it to the House: to notice (and I presume it gave him no pleasure to trans- "There lived in one of the counties of western Vir mit) the resolution, from which it appears that the Legis-ginia a Dutchman named Henry Snyder, and also two Lature still adhere to the opinion expressed by that State brothers, called George and Jake Fulwiler. They each in 1799, repeated in 1811, and now again reiterated, that owned a mill. Henry Snyder was subject to fits of de

MARCH 3, 1834.]

Virginia Resolutions.

[H. OF R.

rangement. He conceived himself to be a supreme ruler expressed by the Legislature, I do not know. I have no of the universe, and, while under the infatuation, pro-knowledge of the opinions of my own constituents even. ceeded to try all who offended him-he personating both The Legislature of Virginia derives its authority, as I do judge and culprit. Some difficulty having occurred be- mine, from the people; and we are alike responsible to tween Snyder and the Fulwilers, on account of their mills, them. I think the Legislature have adopted sentiments he, to be avenged, proceeded one day to try them.

He was heard to pass the following judgments, acting as judge, and yet responding for the accused. He called George Fulwiler:

"Shorge Fulwiler, stand up. Well, Shorge Fulwiler, hasn't you got a mill?” "Yes, I hash."

"Well, Shorge Fulwiler, didn't you never take too much toll?"

"Yes, I hash; when der water wash low, and mine stones wash dull, I take a leetle too much toil."

"Well, den, Shorge Fulwiler, you must go to der left mid der goats."

[ocr errors]

He then proceeded to try "Shake Fulwiler" in the same way, and with the same result.

"Now I tries mineself. Henry Shnyder, stand up. Well, Henry Shnyder, hasn't you got a mill?" "Yes, I hash."

"Well, Henry Shnyder, didn't you never take too much toll?"

16

Yes, I hash; when der water wash low, and mine stones wash dull, I bash taken a leetle too much toll." "But, Henry Shnyder, vat did you do mid de toll?" Ah, I gives it to de poor."

[ocr errors]

(Pausing.)

Well, Henry Shnyder, you must go to de right mid der sheep; but it is a tam tight squeeze." Now I do really think that if President Jackson is to be denounced, and sent to the left for his proclamation and cabinet manifesto, Governor Floyd may find some apology for his proclamation and cabinet manifesto, which, in the eye of official self-complacency, may entitle him to claim a place on the right; but it must be by a very tight squeeze. I regard the cabinet manifesto, the President's proclamaton, and the proclamation and cabinet manifesto of the Governor of Virginia to us, his loyal or disloyal subjects, the representatives of Virginia here, in regard to the right to issue them, and their tone, as papers of the same class, as belonging to the same family, and alike efflorescences of Executive pruriency. I take my leave of them.

in conflict with the letter and spirit of the constitution. It will be for the people of Virginia to pass between them and those of us here who do not agree with them.

It has been said that one universal cry of indignation has been raised, from the Potomac to the Gulf of Mexico, against the usurpation of the Executive in this matter. This may be so. But believing, as I do, that it is founded upon principles wholly inconsistent with the theory of the constitution, and in conflict with the ancient principles of Virginia, I, for one, am determined to oppose (unless controlled by the mandate of my constituents) this current, and not voluntarily float down the stream, which I believe will at last tumble over into that gulf of consolidation where reigns one eternal gloomy and iron despotism.

I remember well, Mr. Speaker, the time when Virginia stood almost alone on this floor in opposition to the encroachments of the Federal Legislature; when a distinguished son of Virginia, whose unworthy successor I am, and who, I thank God, is yet steadfast in the faith, was habitually sneered at for his straitlaced notions of constitutional law, and, in mockery and derision, was called "the administrator de bonis non of State rights."

But that devoted champion of the rights of the States and of a limited construction of the federal constitution, (P. P. Barbour,) neither quailed nor faltered in his course. After a long and doubtful struggle, the present Chief Magistrate was elected. At this time, the unadministered assets of State rights were small indeed; but with the aid of the stern and inflexible firmness of the President, sustained as he has been by the people thus far, we find that "internal improvement," that great source of extravagant expenditures, that system of legislation so hostile to the true construction of the constitution, "lies prostrate,” in the language of its great champion, "under the Execu tive veto." As a means of saving a portion of the protective system from the fate which awaited it-from the hostility of the President-the father of the American system proposed and carried through the compromise bill, which affords a prospect of substantial relief from that It becomes me now, sir, to notice more in detail the oppressive system; and I believe that more immediate reasons on which the Legislature have founded the re- and certain relief would have been received but for the quest they have addressed to the representatives of Vir- rash and precipitate, though gallant and high-minded a. I admit their right and their duty to express their course taken by one of the southern States, which, topinions on any supposed violations of the law or consti-gether with the proclamation of the President, placed the tution by any department, and to accompany that expres-country on the brink of civil war, and made us all glad to son of opinion with a request to the representatives of the settle the matter upon almost any peaceable terms. people of Virginia on this floor; and while that request The Bank of the United States, which has been callcertainly does not carry with it the force of authority, yet, ed one of the first-born of federal encroachments, and considering the high source from which it proceeds, it is now more gigantic in its proportions than any of them, entitled to the most respectful consideration. whose death struggle now fills the whole country with comIt is known to the House that I have heretofore ex-motion, has been felled by the same hand, wielding that pressed opinions decidedly and fundamentally opposed to potent safeguard and check upon the encroachments of hat I understand to be the principles maintained in the the Legislative Department of the Government-the resolutions of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth Executive veto."

of Virginia. I have, however, as I felt in duty bound to I am aware, sir, that great deductions are to be made do, from a sincere regard for their wishes, and respect for from this list of benefits, on account of the famous proctheir opinions, reviewed and examined my own; and I lamation. I believe no one more readily or more openly regret to say, that I see no reason to change them.

and decidedly condemned its unsound and fatal heresies

If I were to consult my feelings rather than my reason, than myself; but shall we, under the influence of excitemy political sympathies rather than my political principles ment on account of that act, unite with those who declaim and opinions; or if I could permit myself to look to my against the Executive veto of the bank and of internal interests, present or prospective, rather than to the obliga- improvements, and his fatal hostility to the tariff, as evitions I owe to the constitution and my convictions of the dences of the accumulation of all power in the hands of one truth, I might join in the denunciations about usurpation, man; and, moreover, adopt opinions which not only deranny, and despotism, of which we hear so much. But, prive the executive branch of all the eficiency and reas I do not believe in these things, I cannot join in the sponsibility designed by the constitution, but lead to the clamor that is raised. Whether the people of Virginia, as entire abandonment of the Executive check on the Legishas been said, entertain opinions in accordance with those lature, and must end at last in the union of all the pow

VOL. X.-179

H. OF R.]

Virginia Resolutions.

[MARCH 3, 1834,

ers of Government, legislative, executive, and judicial, These are some of the principles which were recog in the same hand, which is said to be the very definition nised as leading ones in producing the arrangement and of tyranny? division of powers in the federal constitution, and by which In order to determine how far the resolutions of the the separation of the several departments, legislative, exVirginia Legislature are in accordance with the true ecutive, and judicial was regulated; "the concentratheory of the constitution, and the principles which tion of which powers in the same hands," in the language were enunciated at the time of its formation, I will read of Mr. Jefferson, "is precisely the definition of tyranny." some passages from the celebrated letters of "Publius," How consonant with these fundamental principles were which contain the most authoritative, and, with some the animated and eloquent appeals which we have been prominent exceptions, the most accurate and profound ex- accustomed for several years to hear against the dangers positions of constitutional doctrine that any country pos- of an irresponsible, unchecked, and interested majority sesses, in relation to its fundamental law. In order to in Congress! They constitute a part of the faith in which show the light in which Mr. Madison viewed the compar- I was bred; and now let us proceed to inquire how far they ative dangers of the Executive and Legislative Depart- are sustained by, or in conflict with, the preamble and rements, I refer to several passages from the forty-eighth solutions of the Virginia Legislature. number of "Publius."

"The Legislative Department is every where extending the sphere of its activity, and drawing all power into its impetuous vortex."

Again: it is said that the founders of our republics "seem never to have recollected the danger from Legislative usurpations, which, by assembling all power in the same hands, must lead to the same tyranny as it is threatened with by Executive usurpations.

The preamble is in these words:

"Whereas, the General Assembly of Virginia deem it of the utmost importance that the power to control the public revenue should be made to abide, in practice, where it has been vested by the constitution-in the im mediate representatives of the people and of the States in Congress assembled," &c.

Now I confess I have been at some loss to understand precisely what it is that the Legislature mean to affirm. "In a Government where numerous and extensive pre. Do they mean to assert merely that Congress, in the con rogatives are placed in the hands of an hereditary mon- stitutional sense, with the approval of the President, or arch, the Executive Department is justly regarded as the without his approbation, by a vote of two-thirds of both source of danger, and watched with all the jealousy which Houses, are vested by the constitution with authority to a zeal for liberty ought to inspire. In a democracy, where make laws concerning the public revenue, or for "the a multitude of people exercise in person the legislative control of the public revenue" after it is raised? If so, functions, and are continually exposed, by their incapacity then they affirm what no human being ever controverted for regular deliberation and concerted measures, to the or questioned. But it seems to be wholly immaterial to ambitious intrigues of their Executive Magistrates, tyranny the present controversy, especially as it is a proposition may well be apprehended on some favorable emergencies equally true of every other subject of federal legislation; to start up in the same quarter. But in a representative and, after all, amounts to nothing more than that Conrepublic, where the Executive Magistracy is carefully lim-gress have a right to pass all laws within the scope of ited, both in the extent and duration of its power, and their legislative authority under the constitution. To where the legislative power is exercised by an assembly suppose this to have been their meaning, would be to which is inspired by a supposed influence over the people with an intrepid confidence in its own strength; which is sufficiently numerous to feel all the passions which actuate the multitude, yet not so numerous as to be incapable of pursuing the objects of its passions, by means which reason prescribes; it is against the enterprising ambition of this department that the people ought to indulge all their jealousy, and exhaust all their precautions."

Mr.

impute to the Legislature a degree of solemn trifling only equalled by that of a member of Parliament, who rose in the House of Commons, in great indignation at some supposed misconstruction of a law, and said, Speaker: We have laws, or we have not laws. If we have laws, and they are not obeyed, to what purpose have we laws?" To which Mr. Sheridan promptly and very wittily replied as follows: "Mr. Speaker: The gen In the fifty-first number of the same work, it is said that tleman has spoken to the purpose, or he has not spoken "in a republican Government the legislative authority to the purpose. If he has not spoken to the purpose, to naturally predominates," and as a remedy for this, the au- what purpose has he spoken?" It is wholly inadmissible, thor (Mr. Madison) says: "The Legislature is divided into consistently with the respect which I most sincerely endifferent branches," and that, "as the weight of the legis-tertain for the wisdom and gravity of the Legislature of lative authority requires that it should be thus divided, Virginia, to suppose that they meant to assert a proposi the weakness of the Executive, on the other hand, may re- tion so general and irrelevant. Then there are only two quire that it should be fortified;" and he then refers to other interpretations which can be put upon their fanthe propriety of the qualified veto. guage.

These same general principles are afterwards referred to in a subsequent number, written by Mr. Hamilton; and

he says:

Do the Legislature mean to affirm that a control over the public revenue can be exerted by laws passed without the concurrence of the Executive, and by less "From these clear and indubitable principles results the than a majority of two-thirds of each House of Congress; propriety of a negative, either absolute or qualified, in or that a control over the public revenue can be exerted the Executive, upon the acts of the legislative branches. by Congress in some other way than by a legislative act Without the one or the other, the former would be abso- or joint resolution? Surely, the assertion that any such lutely unable to defend himself against the depredations of control "abides in practice, or is vested by the constitu the latter. He might gradually be stripped of his au- tion in the immediate representatives of the people and thority by successive resolutions, or annihilated by a single of the States," is wholly unfounded. There is nothing vote; and, in the one mode or the other, the legislative and in the constitution, that I have been able to perceive, executive powers might speedily come to be blended in the same liands."

which gives the slightest countenance to the opinion. Can the Legislature mean to say that "the control of The veto power is also said, in the same number, to be the public revenue," in relation to the execution of the "a salutary check upon the legislative body, calculated laws concerning revenue after it is raised, belongs to the to guard the community against the effects of faction, pre- Legislative Department, to the exclusion of the Execu cipitancy, or of any impulse unfriendly to the public good, tive Department? If this be what is meant, then it is obwhich may happen to influence a majority of that body."vious that, so far from such a control being vested by the

« السابقةمتابعة »