Obrázky stránek

gentleman feels, as I know many do, rapture at the idea of a state being humiliated and humbled into the dust, I envy him not his feelings. At such a thought, I acknowledge I feel humbled. If the degradation were confined to kings and tyrants, to usurpers who had destroyed the liberties of nations, I should not feel much commiseration; but when applied to governments, instituted by the people for the protection of their liberties, and administered only to promote their happiness, I feel indignant at the idea of degraded sovereignty. I should feel the same interest for any state, large or small, whether it were the little state of Delaware herself, or the still more insignificant republic of St. Marino.

[ocr errors]





JANUARY 14, 1802,

On the following motion, “ Resolved, That the act of Congress, pass

ed on the 13th day of February, 1801, entitled · An Act to provide for the more convenient organization of the courts of the United States, ought to be repealed.' "*

MR. PRESIDENT, I had fostered the hope that some gentleman, who thinks with me, would have taken upon himself the task of replying to the observations made yesterday, and this morning, in favor of the motion on your table. But since no gentleman has gone so fully into the subject, as it seems to require, I am compelled to request

your attention.

We were told, yesterday, by the honorable member from Virginia, that our objections were calculated for the by-standers, and made with a view to produce effect upon the people at large. I know not for whom this charge is intended. I certainly recollect no such observations. As I was personally charged with making a play upon words, it may have been intended for

But surely, sir, it will be recollected that I de. clined that paltry game, and declared that I considered the verbal criticism, which had been relied on, as irrelevant. If I can recollect what I said, from recollecting well what I thought, and meant to say, sure I am, that I uttered nothing in the style of an appeal to the people. I hope no member of this House has so poor a sense of its dignity as to make such an appeal. As to myself, it is now near thirty years since I was called into public office. During that period, I have frequently been the servant of the people, always their friend; but at no one moment of my life their flatterer, and God forbid that I ever should be. When the honorable gentleman considers the course we have taken, he must see, that the observation he has thus pointed, can light on no object. I trust, that it did not flow from the consciousness of his own intentions. He, I hope, had no view of this sort. If he had, he was much, very much mistaken. Had he looked round upon those, who honor us with their attendance, he would have seen that the splendid flashes of his wit excited no approbatory smile. The countenances of those by whom we were surrounded, presented a different spectacle. They were impressed with the dignity of this House; they perceived in it the dignity of the American people, and felt, with high and manly sentiment, their own participation.


* See page 82.

We have been told, sir, by the honorable gentleman from Virginia, that there is no independent part of this government; that in popular governments, the force of every department, as well as the government itself, must depend upon popular opinion. The honorable member from North Carolina has informed us, that there is no check for the overbearing powers of the legislature but public opinion; and he has been pleased to notice a sentiment I had uttered-a sentiment which not only fell from my lips, but which flowed from my heart. It has, however, been misunderstood and misapplied. After reminding the House of the dangers to which popular governments are exposed from the influence of designing demagogues upon popular passion, I took the liberty to say, that we, we the Senate of the United States, are assembled here to save the people from their most dangerous enemy, to save them from themselves; to guard them against



the baneful effects of their own precipitation, their passion, their misguided zeal. It is for these purposes that all our constitutional checks are devised. If this be not the language of the constitution, the constitution is all nonsense. For why are the senators chosen by communities, and the representatives directly by the people? Why are the one chosen for a longer term than the other? Why give one branch of the legislature a negative upon the acts of the other? Why give the President a right to arrest the proceedings of both, till two thirds of each should concur ? Why all these multiplied precautions, unless to check and control that impetuous spirit, that headlong torrent of opinion, which has swept away every popular government that ever existed.

With the most respectful attention, I heard the declaration of the gentleman from Virginia, of his own sentiment. “ Whatever,” said he, “ may be my opinion of the constitution, I hold myself bound to respect it.” He disdained, sir, to profess an attachment he did not feel, and I accept his candor as a pledge for the performance of his duty. But he will admit this necessary inference from that frank confession, that although he will struggle (against his inclination,) to support the constitution, even to the last moment; yet, when in spite of all his efforts it shall fall, he will rejoice in its destruction. Far different are my feelings. It is possible that we are both prejudiced, and that in taking the ground, on which we respectively stand, our judgments are influenced by the sentiments which glow in our hearts. I, sir, wish to support this constitution, because I love it; and I love it, because I consider it as the bond of our union; because in my soul I believe, that on it depends our harmony and our peace; that without it, we should soon be plunged in all the horrors of civil war; that this country would be deluged with the blood of its inhabitants, and a brother's hand raised against the bosom of a brother.

After these preliminary remarks, I hope I shall be in

dulged while I consider the subject in reference to the two points which have been taken, the expediency and the constitutionality of the repeal.

In considering the expediency, I hope I shall be pardoned for asking your attention to some parts of the constitution, which have not yet been dwelt upon, and which tend to elucidate this part of our inquiry. I agree fully with the gentleman, that every section, every sentence, and every word of the constitution, ought to be deliberately weighed and examined; nay, I am content to go along with him, and give its due value and importance to every stop and comma. In the beginning, we find a declaration of the motives which induced the American people to bind themselves by this compact. And in the foreground of that declaration, we find these objects specified; 66 to form a more perfect union, to establish justice, and to insure domestic tranquillity.” But how are these objects effected ? The people intended to establish justice. What provision have they made to fulfil that intention ? After pointing out the courts, which should be established, the second section of the third article informs us, “ the judicial power shall extend to all cases in law and equity, arising under this constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made or which shall be made, under their authority; to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls; to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; to controversies to which the United States shall be a party; to controversies between two or more states; between a state and citizens of another state; between citizens of different states; between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states; and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.

“ In all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and those in which a state shall be a party, the supreme court shall have original jurisdiction. In all the other cases before mentioned, the

« PředchozíPokračovat »