« ZurückWeiter »
H. OF R.
It had been said by some gentlemen opposed to do. It is not such a court as this that the Presiit, that the evidence ought to be transmitted to dent is requested to institute. If the President the President of the United States; they could were to find from satisfactory evidence, such as see no objection to that. But what could be un- has been given, that General Wilkinson is guilty derstood by transmitting it? Why send it to the he will remove him from office; he may go further, President of the United States ? 'If it were im- and order a prosecution against him in the proper proper to make the request, why trouble the Ex-district. Whether he should do one or both is ecutive with information on the subject? If it not now necessary to decide. All I understand were proper to transmit the evidence, why scruple the resolution to ask, is, that he will make proper to make the request ?
inquiry into the conduct of General WilkinionGentlemen had objected to it on Constitutional whether by a particular court, particular officers, grounds; for his own part, he should be one of or particular committee, whether he may see ihe last io wish to pass any resolution or do any cause to call this officer before him, and give him. act contrary to the Constitution; and should also an opportunity to defend himself, it is not necesbe one of ihe last to do anything which looked sary now to determine or inquire. But in all this like an assumption of powers not delegated to the I cannot see any offence given to the President, House. But in every shape in which he could or any declaration that there is any matter which view the matter, there was not the least cause for he ought to have inquired into, but which he has an apprehension of this kind, and he should en-not. I have not seen any cause for the alarm or deavor to consider the matter as briefly as possible. declamation visible and audible for several days
It had been said that the Constitution did not past. The proposition appears to be reasonable, delegate the power to do this thing. This is very and supported by the Constitution, as nothing true, said he; the Constitution does not expressly contained in that instrument forbids it, and to delegate any such power, if we adhere to the let- contemplate no injurious exercise of power against ter of this instrument. , But it must be considered the person or property of any individual whatthat there are powers vested in this House which ever. Can any gentleman say how this can inare not expressly given. I would not wish to jure any particular citizen? if he be guilty, it extend the powers of this House by implication, will be ascertained, if innocent, his innocence will to do a material injury to the person or property be confirmed-his character may be cleared up of any one, to desiroy the trial by jury, or to in- and all stains wiped away. For my part I canfringe the province of any branch of the Legisla- not see why all this zeal against an inquiry of ture, or the powers of the Executive. Indeed it this nature, or why the Constitution should be would in my opinion be too absurd to be attempt held up to discussion, when the simple question is ed in any case. This is not, however, contem- merely whether the President shall be requested plated by the present proposition. If it were a to inquire into this business. There is something proposition to do an injury, my mind would re- in it which I cannot fathom. I have revolved it voli at the idea; but if it be nothing more than in my mind in every possible shape, and cannot what is necessary and proper, where can be the see any ground for the excitement of these feel objection to it, or where does the Constitution, ings or apprehensions; or that the Constitution deny the exercise of the right? Gentlemen ask, will be destroyed by a simple request by the where does the Constitution give the power? I House of Representatives to the President of the will answer that it grows out of our Constitution, United States to inquire into certain evidence which was founded in the wisdom of our states- which has come within our knowledge. men. This House is the branch of the Legisla- Mr. Bacon said, he believed he had expressed ture considered as more particularly composed of his sentiments on this motion, now before the the Representatives of the people; it is our bounden House, when it was offered for their consideration duty to watch over the interests of the United at a former'day; believed, for it would be recolStates; when an injury is done to the nation and lected that the general subject had danced before not checked by the proper authority, it is our their eyes in such various forms, that it was imduty to inquire and give information. To say, possible to say with certainty whether he had therefore, that because this power is not expressly expressed his opinion on this particular point or given we shall not exercise it, does not appear to not, but he believed he had. It was not a little me to be a very potent argument. Perhaps if amusing, and, perhaps, worthy of attention, to ibis request went io injure an individual, or to look back and see the regular gradation in which deprive him of his rights, there might be some this business bad progressed from its first presentjustice in the observation. But after the evidence ation. How had it gone on? First, said Mr. B., which has been given to this House for several it appeared in the form of a modest and simple days past, an inquiry ought to be made by the request, addressed to the Executive, to the lanPresident; and if General Wilkinson is not a man guage of which it was thought there could not be of integrity, he ought to be removed.
any objection, although there certainly was to the It was said chat an inquiry is instituted. This substance. Then, after the House had considered inquiry does not go to the extent which is con- it a while, it was moved to go further; that it templated by this resolution. It is a fact that should be committed to a committee, with power this court has not the power of compelling the to send for persons and papers. This motion was attendance of the witnesses or the production of discussed a day or two, when the sense of the papers from a distance, which another court might | House was taken on it, and it was thrown out by
H. of R.
JANUARY, 1808. a large majority of votes. What was the next ther, on account of the motion of the gentleman step? A motion that two gentlemen on the floor from North Carolina to strike out a portion of it. might be so far indulged as to permit them to lay [The SPEAKER said, such was the case.) Then, their evidence on the table. This presented the said Mr. B., I believe the House was in the same subject in a more confined and limited shape. It unfortunate situation as the gentleman from Virwas not giving a committee power over persons ginia, and could not hear the true state of the and papers; it was represented as a very circum- case; and, really, if I did misunderstand him, I scribed and harmless thing. Without pretending am pot so happy as I imagined I should be, for I to a great degree of prescience, I then thought I did hope I should be right in supposing that the saw ihe extent to which we should be drawn, and comments made upon the resolution bad induced did lift up my feeble voice against it, even in that him wholly to withdraw it, and am sorry that shape, and suggested my ideas to the House. But ibis does not appear to be the case. I was found to be in a very small minority. I I beg the House now to consider through what really thought the next step would have been a stages we have been led in the consideration of decision on the resolution, as first moved by the this subject. It seems we are now to meet this gentleman from Virginia, or on transmitting the question in its original form. I will not now papers, which had been laid on our table, to the again enter into a discussion of it. It will, howExecutive; but, from the large majority on that ever, be a useful lesson to me, and, I trust, to the question, courage seemed to have been taken to go House, to observe through what mazes.we have further.' What was next? A resolution propos- travelled. First, the discussion commenced on a ed by the gentleman from Kentucky. The first civil request to the Executive that he would do resolution, offered by the gentleman from Virgi- his duty, and exercise his power; but, feeling the nia, simply requested the President to do a certain ground pretty firm under them, gentlemen thought act, transcending our own powers, in a modest they might assume more ; and the question was manner; but the gentleman from Kentucky seems at last presented as we yesterday heard it supto have thought the House then was in a temper ported by the gentleman from Kentucky. to go further, and therefore moved a resolution I sball not occupy the attention of the House not that we should direct the President to do his with any further remarks. I will only observe, duty, but to take the power ourselves and appoint that there is nothing at the bottom of the opposia committee to inquire into a crime of the high- tion to this resolution, no improper motive for the est magnitude. I did not regret that the subject zeal displayed on the occasion. I profess no great was brought in this shape before the House. I zeal; I am neither the partisan of General Wilthought it would produce a good effect; that the kinson, nor his foe; shall not join in the eulogiHouse would see how far the "entering wedge” um on his character by the gentleman from New was finally to be driven. But this resolution, Jersey, nor in the aspersions on it by the gentleand the doctrines urged in support of it, evidently man from Kentucky. I equally disclaim any went too far; the iemper of the House did not participation in both. The character of this offiseem to relish it; many gentlemen, who seemed cer may be bandied about as gentlemen please, inclined to adopt the first resolution, could not bui I will not, for the purpose of showing my zeal bring themselves up to this. What then was for what may be supposed a popular inquiry, be done? The gentlemap from Kentucky withdrew driven from my Constitutional ground; standing it, and then
on which, and on which alone, I feel myself safe. Mr. RandolpH asked leave to set the gentle I thought, the other day, when the House called man right in what he was about to state. He for information, that they had better have stopped was certain the gentleman from Massachusetts where they were ; I endeavored to show the conwould wish to state nothing but what was correct. sequences of it then. I now repeat, that here is The truth was, that the resolution now before the ground to halt. If we have already gone too them would not have been the subject of debate far, we cannot retrace our steps ; but we may say at present, had it not been for the circumstance of we will go no further. If the House go further, his having misconceived the gentleman from I will not go with them; but I hope they will Kentucky. I understood the gentleman, said Mr. consider the precedents and principles which will R., as meaning to withdraw his to make way for flow from the course which ihey seem now about the resolution which I had the honor to submit; to adopt. when, in fact, had I heard him distinctly, I should Mr. Rhea, of Tennessee, said he should vote have understood that his intention was to with against this resolution for several reasons; it was draw his own to modify it and present it in a new inexpedient, unnecessary, and exceeded the power shape, disencumbered of additions unconnected of the House. It was inexpedient and unneceswith it. This is the plain state of the fact; and sary at the present time, because the very object the change of question now originates solely from of ihe resolution was already taken into consider, my having misunderstood the gentleman from ation by the President, and a court of inquiry had Kentucky, and having got possession of the floor been ordered in pursuance of it. He should vote before him.
against it as inexpedient, because the President of Mr. Bacon said, he did not know how it oc- the United States was fully adequate to do everycurred, and could only see things as they present thing which he was, by the Constitution or law, ed themselves. He understood the gentleman required to do; and with him alone rested all the from Kentucky to withdraw his motion altoge- power to have this business brought before the JANUARY, 1808.
H. OF R.
proper tribunal. There is, said he, a military quest the President; and, being a measure not court to which all these officers are amenable, warranted by the Constitution, I cannot agree and by whom they are punishable for any offences to it. which they may commit; and I am willing to Mr. Lyon said, while he should cheerfully have submit to their decision not only this case but voted for an inquiry by this House, as it was conevery other which may arise, without further in- tended that they had not this right to inquire, he terference. I, for my part, shall never descend to should not vote for this, because it requested the the situation of a petitioner to the President of President to institute an inquiry, which was alreathe United States, or to any other department of dy done, and the proceedings of the court were Government. If, then, the resolution be consid- públished. But when, he said, he should vote ered as a petition, the House can do nothing more against the resolution, he felt a sort of repugnance im politic ihan to become petitioners. This Le to so voting, from the expression of a belief by gislatare stands precedent to any department of many of its opponents, that they had no right to the Government; and if any gentleman thinks fit pass it. He contended that they had a right to to come forward as a petitioner, let him do it; and make inquiry themselves as well as to call upon if he chooses to resign bis seat, as he has threat the President to do it; he was as strongly attached ened to do, if we do not agree to "petition," let to the Constitution as any one, and could not him do so.
consent to give up his rights. He should vote It has been asked by a gentleman from Con- against the resolution inerely because it called necticut, why should the President be troubled upon the President to do a thing already done. with this evidence, if not with the resolution ? He was inclined to think some further inquiry This evidence, although upon the table, is uncon- was necessary, because of the clamor, and because nected with anything else whatever.
charges had been made of a disposition to stifle When I was up, a few days ago, I had the inquiry, which assertions should be met broadly. honor to mention that the Government consisted It ought to be said by every side of the House that of three great departments, and that it was the they would not hesitate to go into any inquiry. It intention of the framers of the Constitution that was a matter of vast importance; and the House these departments should not interfere with each should not be influenced by delicacy toward the other, I observed, that the Constitution says that President, the Commander-in-Chief, or any other the President shall recommend to this House, man, but boldly take up the case, and show to the from time to time, such measures as he shall world that they were not ashamed to go on with think proper. Gentlemen 'had been called upon an inquiry, which every part of the nation called to show why this House had any right to request for. General Wilkinson's character, after what him; it is given up that it is not expressly dele- had been sworn to by Mr. Clark, did not stand gated, and if it is by implication. I should be glad with the nation so that they could have confito see it. I have examined the Constitution, and dence in him; on the contrary, their confidence found tbat every power not delegated to the Uni- in that commander must be shaken. The House ted States is reserved to the people or the States. ought to pursue such a course as would restore I deny that the Constitution ever authorized this confidence to this officer, or he ought to be disHouse to recommend to the President any meas- missed from the service. "I hope, said Mr. L., that ure which it is within his province to do. If any gentlemen who oppose this on Constitutional such authority can be shown, it will be some grounds, do not consider if the inquiry, now comreason why this resolution should be adopted. I menced goes on in such a way as is not completemust act according to the Constitution, which I ly satisfactory to the whole nation, that the purhave sworn to support, and I do not see that any pose intended will be answered; that if the Compower is therein given to do such an act as this, i mander-in-Chief is exculpated, and that merely and therefore I shall vote against this resolution because this or that form is wanting, that confi. and all such. If this doctrine be once establish- dence will be restored, "If he is kept in office, and ed, what will be the consequence? It will be in confidence is not restored to him, a great evil will the power of gentlemen to bring forward a reso- take place, without a remedy, except this House lution to affect any officer of the Army or Navy, have the power. Gentlemen talk about the time and they might send the whole Army before the which has been spent. I do not care how much President on suspicion.' I hope this doctrine will time has been spent, or how much said on this never be adopted; I am content to let these offi- subject; it is better so much time has been spent cers remain amenable to the department which than that the nation should be kept in suspense. has power over them by the Constitution. I deem I shall vote against this resolution, though I might that department fully competent; and when the vote for the resolution of my colleague, (Mr. power was confided to the Executive department, Rowan,) if under consideration now. it was expected that he would do his duty as well The question on Mr. RANDOLPH's resolution, as this department; if this is not the case, let this was then taken by yeas and nays-yeas 72, nays House at once assume the duties of the President, 49, as follows: and come before the sovereign people in that ca
YEAs-Evan Alexander, Lemuel J. Alston, Burwell pacity; one act under that assumption will blast Bassett, William W. Bibb, William Blackledge, Thomas the unconstitutional doctrine.
Blount, John Boyle, William A. Burwell, William As well might this Legislature assume the Butler, John Campbell, Epaphroditus Champion, Mar. power to request a jury to do anything as to re- tin Chittenden, Matthew Clay, Howell Cobb, John
H. OF R.
Davenport, jr., Joseph Desha, James Elliot, William tion under Mr. Adams, and additional information
judge, on the ground of being a Spanish penNarsWillis Alston, jr., Ezekiel Bacon, David, sioner. A charge of the same kind is now made Bard, Joseph Barker, Robert Brown, Joseph Calhoun, on oath by a member of this House, against an George W. Campbell, Peter Carlton, John Chandler, officer of the United States. It is time that all Richard Cutts, Josiah Deane, Daniel M. Durell, Wil- the information possessed by the Government of liam Findley, James Fisk, Meshack Franklin, Isaiah the United States on the subject of this combivaL. Green, John Heister, James Holland, Daniel tion, should be brought fairly before the public. Ilsley, Robert Jenkins, William Kirkpatrick, Nehe. With a view to obtain this information, he offered miah Knight, John Lambert, John Love, Matthew the following resolution : Lyon, William McCreery, William Milnor, Nicholas
Resolved, That the President of the United States R. Moore, Jeremiah Morrow, John Morrow, Roger be requested to lay before the House of Representatives Nelson, Thomas Newbold, Wilson C. Nicholas, John all the information which may at any time from the Porter, John Pugh, John Rhea of Tennessee, Mat- establishment of the present Federal Government to thias Richards, Ebenezer Seaver, James Sloan, John the present time, have been forwarded to any deSmilie, Jedediah K. Smith, Henry Southard, Clement partment of the Government, touching a combination Storer, John Taylor, John Thompson, Archibald Van between the agents of any foreign Government and Horn, Robert Whitehill, Isaac Wilbour, and James citizens of the United States, for dismembering the Witherell.
Union, or going to show that any officer of the UniMr. Eppes said he had stated on a former day, ted States has at any time corruptly received money in his place, that no information had at any time from any foreign Government or its agents; distinbeen received by the present Administration which guishing as far as possible the period at which such went to charge Brigadier General Wilkinson information has been forwarded, and by whom. with being a Spanish pensioner. This statement Mr. RANDOLPH seconded this motion. was made in reply to a gentleman from Kentucky, After a few objections to this resolution from who thought it unnecessary to forward to the Mr. Quincy, on account of its being too compreExecutive the evidence exhibited against General hensive, not giving the President power to withWilkinson, on the ground that this evidence was hold confidential correspondence, the question was, already in possession of the Executive department. on motion of Mr. Rhea, taken by yeas and days, A faci so important to the public ought not to and carried unanimously, every member present, rest on the assertion of any individual. If cor- to the number of one hundred and twenty, voting ruption has at any period of our political exist in the affirmative-as follows: ence fixed its fangs on this Government, if men Evan Alexander, Lemuel J. Alston, Willis Alston, known to be Spanish pensioners have at any junior, Ezekiel Bacon, David Bard, Joseph Barker, period been honored with confidence by any ad- Burwell Bassett, William W. Bibb, William Blackministration, it is proper the people should un- ledge, Thomas Blount, John Boyle, Robert Brown, derstand at what period this confidence com- William A. Burwell, William Butler, Joseph Calhoun, menced, and by whom it was reposed. So far George W. Campbell, John Campbell
, Peter Carlton, back as the year 1789 or 1790, information was Epaphroditus Champion, John Chandler, Martin Chitforwarded to the Executive department of this tenden, Matthew Clay, Howell Cobb, Richard Cutts, Government, that a combination between citizens John Dawson, Daniel M. Durell, James Elliot, Wil of the United States and the Spanish Government liam Ely, John W. Eppes, William Findley, James had been formed, for ihe purpose of dismembering Gardner, James M. Garnett, Charles Goldsborough,
Fisk, Meshack Franklin, Barent Gardenier, Francis the United States. The information (together Edwin Gray, Isaiah L. Green, John Harris, John with the names of most of the persons concerned Heister, William Helms, William Hoge, James Holin the combioation) was forwarded to the first land, David Holmes, Benjamin Howard, Reuben HumAdministration formed under this Government, phreys, Daniel Ilsley, Robert Jenkins, Richard M. Johnat the head of which General WASHINGTON was
son, Walter Jones, James Kelly, Thomas Kenan, Wil. placed. It was known to the second Administra- liam Kirkpatrick, Nehemiah Knight, John Lambert, JANUARY, 1808.
H. or R.
Joseph Lewis, jun., Edward St. Loe Livermore, Edward habitants of the city of Washington, in the DisLloyd, John Love, Matthew Lyon, Nathaniel Macon, trict of Columbia, reported a bill for incorporating Robert Marion, Josiah Masters, William McCreery, a company for opening the canal in the City of William Milnor, Daniel Montgomery, jr., Nicholas R. Washington ; which was read twice and referred Moore, Thomas Moore, Jeremiah Morrow, John Mor
to a Committee of the Whole on Monday next. row, Jonathan 0. Mosely, Gurdon S. Mumford, Roger Nelson, Thomas Newbold, Thomas Newton, Wilson
The House proceeded to consider the amendC. Nicholas, Timothy Pitkin, jr., John Porter, John ments proposed by the Senate to the bill supplePugh, Josiah Quincy, John Randolph, John Rea of mental to an act entitled "An act regulating the Pennsylvania, John Rhea of Tennessee, Jacob Rich- grants of land, and providing for the disposal of ards, Matthias Richards, Samuel Riker, John Rowan, the lands of the United States south of the State John Russell, Ebenezer Seaver, James Sloan, Dennis of Tennessee: Whereupon, Smelt, John Smilie, Jedediah K. Smith, Samuel Smith, Resolved, That this House doth agree to the John Smith, Henry Southard, Richard Stanford, Wil- said amendments. liam Stedman, Clement Storer, Lewis B. Sturges, Peter The House proceeded to consider the amendSwart, Samuel Taggart, John Taylor, John Thompson, ments proposed by the Senate to the bill, entiAbram Trigg, George M. Troup, Jabez Upham, James titled "An act continuing in force, for a further 1. Van Allen, Nicholas Van Dyke, Archibald Van time, the first section of an act, entitled 'An act Horne, Killian K. Van Rensselaer, Daniel C. Ver- further to protect the commerce and seamen of planck, Jesse Wharton, Robert Whitehill, Isaac Wil- the United States against the Barbary Powers :" bour, Marmaduke Williams, Alexander Wilson, Rich
Whereupon, ard Winn, and James Witherell.
Resolved, That this House doth agree to the Mr. Rowan said that although a decision on
said amendments. his resolution had been eluded, out of respect for
Mr. POINDEXTER, from the committee to whom the opinions of gentlemen who objected to par: was referred, on the sixth instant, a petition of ticular parts of it, he had modified it, and offered Alexander Bailie, late Collector of the Customs it as follows:
Resolved, That a special committee be appointed to for the District of Natchez, in the Mississippi inquire into the conduct of Brigadier General Wilkin Territory, presented a bill for the relief of Alerson, in relation to his having at any time whilst in ander Bailie; which was read twice and comthe service of the United States, either as a civil or mitted to a Committee of the Whole on Wednesmilitary officer, been a pensioner of the Government of day next. • Spain, or corruptly received money from that Govern- A message from the Senate informed the House ment, or its agents; and that the said committee have that the Senate have passed the bill, sent from power to send for such persons and papers as may be this House, entitled "An act to continue in force, necessary to assist their inquiries; and that they re- for a limited time, an act, entitled 'An act conport the result to this House, to enable this House the tinuing, for a limited time, the salaries of the better to legislate on subjects of the common weal, officers of Government therein mentioned,” with and our foreign relations, and particularly our relation an amendment; to which they desire the concur. with Spain, as well as on the subject of the increase of rence of this House. the Army of the United States and its regulations. The House resolved itself into a Committee of
A motion to consider this resolution was nega- the Whole on the bill making appropriations for tived-60 to 46.
the support of Government, during the year one Mr. Holland moved that a committee be ap- thousand eight hundred and eight. The bill was pointed to wait upon the President with the reso- reported with several amendments thereto; which lutions this day adopted.
were severally twice read, and agreed to by the Mr. Love moved ihat the evidence or informa- House. tion laid before the House relative to the conduct Ordered, That the said hill, with the amendof General Wilkinson be transmitted to the Ex- ments, be engrossed, and read the third time on ecutive
Monday next. Mr. Randolph moved an adjournment.-neg- On motion of Mr. STANFORD, atived-ayes 47, nays 57.
Resolved, That the Committee of Ways and The House agreeing to consider Mr. Love's Means be instructed to prepare and report a bill motion, ayes 67.
to this House fixing and allowing to each clerk in On motion of Mr. Rowan, seconded by Mr. the several Departments, and in the General Post RANDOLPH, the words' "copies of” papers, &c. Office, adequaie and suitable salaries, according were inserted; and the resolution for transmits to their services respectively. ting copies of the papers was agreed to without a On motion of Mr. Dawson, division.
“That the House do now resolve itself into a The motion for appointing a committee to wait Committee of the Whole on the report, in part, on the President with these resolutions and copies, made the second ultimo, by the committee apwas agreed to without a division. Messrs. RAN- pointed on so much of the Message of the PresiDOLPH and Eppes were appointed the committee. dent of the United States, of the iwenty-seventh
of October last, as relates to the Military and
Naval Establishments :"
And the question being taken thereupon, it Mr. Van Horn, to whom was referred, on the passed in the negative. tenth of November last, a petition of sundry in- Mr. MORRow said he had been instructed by