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gratitude and the love of man, acknowledging and adoring an overruling providence, which, by all its dispensations, proves that it delights in the happiness of man here, and his greater happiness hereafter ; with all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow-citizens, a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government; and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.
About to enter, fellow-citizens, on the exercise of duties which comprehend every thing dear and valuable to you, it is proper you should understand what I deem the essential principles of our government, and consequently, those which ought to shape its administration. I will compress them within the narrowest compass they will bear, stating the general principle, but not all its limitations. Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political: peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none: the support of the state governments in all their rights, as the most competent administrations for our domestic concerns, and the surest bulwarks against anti-republican tendencies: the preservation of the general government in its whole constitutional vigor, as the sheet anchor of our peace at home, and safety abroad: a jealous care of the right of election by the people, a mild and safe corrective of abuses which are lopped by the sword of revolution where peaceable remedies are unprovided : absolute acquiescence in the decisions of the majority, the vital principle of republics, from which there is no appeal but to force, the vital principle and immediate parent of despotism: a well disciplined militia, our best reliance in peace, and for the first moments of war, till regulars may relieve them: the supremacy of the civil over the military authority: economy in the public expense, that labor may be lightly burdened: the honest payment of our debts and sacred preservation of the public faith : encouragement of agriculture, and of commerce as its handmaid: the diffusion of information, and arraignment of all abuses at the bar of the public reason: freedom of religion; freedom of the press; and freedom of person, under the protection of the habeas corpus : and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation, which has gone before us, and guided our steps through an age of revolution and reformation. The wisdom of our sages, and blood of our heroes, have been devoted to their attainment: they should be the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction, the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust; and should we wander from them in moments of error or of alarm, let us hasten to retrace our steps, and to regain the road which alone leads to peace, liberty and safety.
I repair, then, fellow-citizens, to the post you have assigned me. With experience enough in subordinate offices to have seen the difficulties of this the greatest of all, I have learned to expect that it will rarely fall to the lot of imperfect man, to retire from this station with the reputation, and the favor, which bring him into it. Without pretensions to that high confidence you reposed in our first and greatest revolutionary character, whose pre-eminent services had entitled him to the first place in his country's love, and destined for him the fairest page in the volume of faithful history, I ask so much confidence only as may give firmness and effect to the legal administration of your affairs. I shall often go wrong through defect of judgment. When right, I shall often be thought wrong by those whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground. I ask your indulgence for my own errors which will never be intentional; and your support against the errors of others, who may condemn what they would not, if seen in all its parts. The approbation implied by your suffrage, is a great consolation to me for the past; and my future solicitude will be, to retain the good opinion of those who have bestowed it in advance, to conciliate that of others, by doing them all the good in my power, and to be instrumental to the happiness and freedom of all.
Relying then on the patronage of your good will, I advance with obedience to the work, ready to retire from it whenever you become sensible how much better choices it is in your power to make. And may that infinite Power which rules the destinies of the universe, lead our councils to what is best, and give them a favorable issue for your peace and prosperity.
On the following motion : “ Resolved, That the act of Congress,
passed 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." The Act of 1801, referred to in the above resolution, very essential
ly changed the judicial system of the United States, from what it had been previous to that time. It provided for the establishment of several new tribunals, denominated Circuit Courts, the abolition of which was the principal object of the advocates of the resolution.
MR. PRESIDENT, I FEEL some degree of embarrassment in offering my sentiments on a subject so fully and so ably discussed. I believe, that the ground taken by my friend from Kentucky, has not been shaken by any arguments urged in opposition to the resolution on the table. Yet, as some observations have been made, calculated to excite sensibility, not here, but abroad; as they appear
to have been made with a view to that end; and as an alarm has been attempted to be excited on constitutional ground, I think the observations ought not to go unnoticed.
I agree with gentlemen, that it is important, in a well regulated government, that the judicial department should be independent. But I have never been among
those who have carried this idea to the extent which seems at this day to be fashionable. Though of opinion, that each department ought to discharge its proper
duties free from the fear of the others, yet I have never believed, that they ought to be independent of the nation itself. Much less have I believed it proper, or that our constitution authorizes our courts of justice, to control the other departments of the government.
All the departments of a popular government must depend, in some degree, on popular opinion. None can exist without the affections of the people, and if either be placed in such a situation as to be independent of the nation, it will soon lose that affection which is essential to its durable existence.
Without, however, going into an inquiry of what kind of organization is most fit for our tribunals; without inquiring into the fitness of making the judges independent for life, I am willing to enterin to a consideration, not of what ought to be, but of what is. Whatever opinion I may individually entertain of the provisions of the constitution, relative to the judiciary, sitting here under that constitution, I am bound to observe it as the charter under which we are assembled.
When I view the provisions of the constitution on this subject, I observe a clear distinction between the supreme court and other courts. I am sensible, that when we come to make verbal criticisms, any gentleman, of a sportive imagination, may amuse our fancies by a play upon words. But this is not the way to get rid of a genuine construction of the constitution. With regard to the institution of the supreme court, the words are imperative; while, with regard to inferior tribunals, they are discretionary. The first shall, the last may be established. And surely, we are to infer from the wise sages that formed that constitution, that nothing was introduced into it in vain. Not only sentences, but words, and even points, elucidate its meaning. When, therefore, the constitution, using this language, says, a supreme court shall be established, are we not justified in considering it as of consti