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Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives online

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Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 123 of 199)
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State, for the interval of time between the 4th
of March and the first Monday in November,
still less can he, directly in the face of the law
of the State, supply a vacancy for a whole term
of two years. The gentleman from New York
thinks he could, and that his writ of election,
instead of authorizing it to be held for a choice
of members to sit until superseded by members
to be chosen at the regular election in Novem-
ber, should have directed it to be held for
members of the twenty-fifth Congress. The
report of the Committee of Elections avows the
opinion that the Governor, by introducing into
his writ of election the restriction upon the
terms of service of the members to be chosen,
transcended his powers. The report says that
the opinion of the committee was almost unan-
imous that the writ was perfect in itself with-
out the restricting clause ; that its being there
does not invalidate the election held under it,
but that it may fairly be rejected as surplus-
age. They, accordingly, reject it as surplusage,
and present to the House a resolution that
Messrs. Claiboene and Gholson have been duly
elected members of the twenty-fifth Congress.



Octobeb, 1837.]

Mississippi Election.

[H. OF R.

Mr. Speaker, I have never been a tenacious
adherent to the disorganizing doctrine of State
rights. But conversant as I have been with
the Constitution of the United States from its
origin ; familiar as I have been with all the
controversies which attended its progress from
the IVth of September, 1787, when it was pre-
sented by the convention at Philadelphia to the
people of the Union, till its final adoption by
the people of the whole thirteen primitive
States of the Confederacy — equally familiar with
all the subsequent controversies and collisions
of power between the General and State Gov-
ernments, as well as between the several de-
partments of this Government — sworn as I
have repeatedly been to support both the Con-
stitution of the United States and that of my
native Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and
profoundly responsible .as I hold, and ever have
held, myself to a tribunal far beyond this visi-
ble diurnal sphere, for the faithful observance
of those oaths, I have invariably considered the
government of this our common country as
consisting of two distinct, separate, independ-
ent, but interwoven authorities, both limited —
each sovereign within its appropriate sphere — •
each lawfully powerless to encroach upon the
appropriate functions of the other ; and of all
the errors which half a century of national ex-
istence has brought forth to kindle the torch of
discord in our country, the doctrine of nullifi-
cation is, in my judgment, the greatest and the
most pernicious. And next to that is the doc-
trine of nullification, by the Executive, of the
acts of the legislative power — I do not mean by
the veto, before a legislative act becomes a law
— I do not mean by the constitutional control
given to Congress over certain acts of State leg-
islation — but I mean the annulment, by a State
law, of an act of Congress, ©r the annulment of
a State law by an Executive proclamation, or
by any department of the General Government,
except bs authorized by the constitution.
• Now, sir, it appears to me that both these
errors are involved in the opinion expressed by
the gentleman near me from New York, (Mr.
LooMis,) in the report of the Committee of
Elections, and in the resolution with which it
closes, that Messrs. Claiborne and Gholson
have been duly elected members of the 25th
Congress. The gentleman from New York
thinks the Governor of the State of Mississippi
reprehensible for limiting in his writ the elec-
tion of the members to a term to be superseded
by members to be chosen at the general elec-
tion in November, prescribed by the law of the
State. The report of the Committee of Elec-
tions considers the Governor as having, by in-
serting the restriction, transcended his powers.
They reject the restriction as surplusage !

Sir, It was the standing law of the State.
The law of the State surplusage ! The Gov-
ernor of the State, by conforming his writ to the
law of the State, transcended his powers!
Why, what would he have done if he had
omitted the restriction from his writ ? He

would have annulled the law of the State by
proclamation. That would have been a tran-
scending of his powers with a vengeance ! Sir,
there has been a time, in the land of our fathers,
when the pretension of power in a kingly
crowned head to annul the laws of the land by
proclamation, conducted the royal nuUifier to
the block. As a democrat, as a republican, I
should hardly expect that the gentleman from
New York would be ready to invest the Gov-
ernor of a State with a dispensing power to annul
the laws of the State by proclamation. As de-
voted and ardent supporters of State rights, I
should hardly have expected from the majority
of the Committee of Elections, a charge against
the Governor of the State of Mississippi, of
transcending his powers by strict conformity to
the law of the State ; and still less can I think
that this House will adopt a resolution equiva-
lent to the appointment by this House of mem-
bers to represent the people of the State of
Mississippi from the close of the present session
to the end of the 25th Congress. For this, and
nothing less than this, will be the effect of
adopting the resolution reported by the majori-
ty of the Committee of Elections.

Upon the face of the credentials of these gen-
tlemen, as stated by themselves, they were
elected to represent the people of the State of
Mississippi in this House, until superseded by
members to be chosen at the regular State elec-
tion in November. Yet the resolution reported
by the committee, declares that they shall rep-
resent the people of that State during the whole
of the 25th Congress. The people of the State
elected them to serve for one session. The
resolution of the House is to constitute them
Eepresentatives of the people of Mississippi
from the close of this session till the 4th of
March, 1839.

Sir, it is my very deliberate opinion that the
election of the two members from the State of
Mississippi, for a term, to be superseded by others
to be elected next November, was unconstitu-
tional ; that no such election could be held, be-
cause it is in direct collision with that provision
of the Constitution of the United States, which
prescribes that the members of this House shall
be chosen every oth er year. But the time, place,
and manner of holding the election, being en-
trusted by the constitution to the State Legisla-
ture, and the Legislature having provided only
for an election to be held once in two years, and
that in the month of November, after the com-
mencement of the term of the Congress for which
they are elected, there was no authority in the
State competent to ordain an election for a sin-
gle session of Congress, or for a. term short of
two years, from the 4th of March, 1837. The
election was, therefore, null and void. It was
not an election for a single session, or until
November, because the Constitution of the
United States admits of no such election. It
was not an election for the whole Congress,
because the law of the State required that
another election for that purpose should beheld



H. OF K.]

IdissUsipjA JElection,

[October, 1837.

ia November, and the writ of election issued by
the Governor, in exact conformity to the law
of the State, expressly restricted the term of
service to the interval till the regular election in
November. If he had no power to insert the re-
striction in the writ, he had none to issue the
writ itself. If the election was to be held for the
whole Congress, the law of the State had pre-
scribed that it should be held in November, and
it could be held at no other time.

The error of all this .was in the law of the
State, fixing the time for the election of the
State's members in this House nine months
after the commencement of the Congress itself.
The power of the Governor was not competent
either to repeal this law or to supply its defects.
He assumed authority to supply its defects ;
and the report of the Committee of Elections,
while charging him with transcending his
powers in this assumption, concedes to him the
power which he did not assume, of annulling
the law of the State, assumes that he has an-
nulled it, and stretches the election, avowedly
authorized by him for a term of three months,
into an election for the whole Congress.

If the House should adopt the resolution
reported by the Committee of Elections, we are
yet to see how it will be taken by the people
of the State of Mississippi. Their law requires
that the election of members to represent
them in this House for the present Congress,
should be held next November. That law this
House cannot set aside. This election must and
will be held, and it is to be presumed that the
same members will be again returned. Although
I hold that the election by which they now
occupy their seats was irregular, null, and void,
I have been content that they should hold the
seats, and wish they may continue to hold them
till the close of the session ; because, however
irregular the election may have been, they were
actually chosen by large majorities of the peo-
ple, and there is no comparison in point of
magnitude between the mere inconvenience
of an informal election, and the great evil of
depriving the people of a whole State of their
representation in this House, when they have
actually signified their pleasure by whom they
choose to be represented. I would, therefore,
postpone to the last hour of the session the
decision of the question ; but I should then vote
for the resolution as proposed from the gentle-
man from Tennessee. The regular election
would then be held according to the law of
the State of Mississippi ; and as there is no
reason for expecting that the people of the State
of Mississippi have, since last August, trans-
ferred their preferences to other persons, there
can be no doubt that the same members will be
chosen again: But it is devoutly to be wished
that the Legislature of the State of Mississippi
will, by a suitable modification of their election
law, provide against the recurrence of this de-
fect in their representation in this House, which
must otherwise return whenever a session in-
tervenes between the fourth of March, and the

first Monday in December of every alternate
year. Other States are in the same situation.
Eight or ten have been obliged to hold their
elections since the special call for the present
session by the President of the United States.
The constitution no doubt authorizes Congress
by law to alter the time of holding the elec-
tion, as regulated by the law of the State ; but
there never yet has arisen a necessity for exer-
cising this power by Congress ; nor should it,
without necessity, be exercised. It is a still
more exceptionable remedy for the evil which
is now proposed; an assumption of illegal
power by the Governor of a State, and the nullifi-
cation of a State law by a resolution of this House.

Mr. Cambeeleng asked that there might be
a call of the House. This was agreed to, and
the roll was called; when 105 members an-
swered to their names. .

Mr. "Whittlesey, of Ohio, said that, as there
was a doubt as to whether the gentlemen from
Mississippi had been elected for the present ses-
sion only, or the whole Congress, he thought
it would be the better plan to lay the whole
subject on the table, and thus afford time for
them to return and be re-elected. With that
view, he moved that the report of the Commit-
tee of Elections, with the amendment thereto,
be laid on the table, and, on that question, he
asked for the yeas and nays.

Negatived — yeas 70, nays 145.

Mr. Hatnes moved the previous question,
which was seconded — yeas 105, nays 81 ; and
the main question was ordered.

Mr. Beiggs called for the yeas and nays on the
main question, which was the adoption of the
resolution reported by the Committee of Elec-
tions, that Messrs. Claiborne and Gholson were
entitled to their seats ; which was ordered, and

Yeas. — Messrs. Anderson, Andrews, Atherton,
Beatty, Bierne, Bicknell, Birdsall, Boon, Bouldin,
Brodhead, Bronson, Bruyn, Buchanan, Bynum, Cam-
breleng, John Campbell, T. J. Carter, Casey, Chaney,
Chapman, Cilley, Clark, Cleveland, Coles, Connor,
Crary, Cushman, Davee, DeGraif, Dromgoole, Dun-
can, Edwards, Elmore, Farrington, Fairfield, Isaac
Fletcher, Foster, Fry, Gallup, Glascock, William Gra-
ham, Grant, Gray, Haley, Hammond, Hamer, Har-
rison, Hawkins, Haynes, Herod, Holsey, Holt, How-
ard, Hubley, Ingham, T. B. Jackson, J. Jackson,
Joseph Johnson, N. Jones, J. W. Jones, Kemble,
Kilgore, Klingensmith, Legare, Leadbetter, Lewis,
Logan, Arphaxed Loomis, J. M. Mason, Martin, May,
R. McClellan, A. McClellan, MoClure, McKim, Miller,
Montgomery, Moore, Morgan, S. W. Morris, Muhlen-
berg, Murray, Noble, Palmer, Parker, Parmenter,
Paynter, Pennybacker, Petrikin, Phelps, Flumer,
Potter, Pratt, Prentiss, Eeily, Rhett, Richardson,
Rives, Sheffer, Sheplor, Smith, Snyder, Spencer,
Stewart, Taylor, Thomas, Titus, Toucey, Turney,
Vail, Vanderveer, Wagener, Webster, Weeks, A. S.
White, T. T. Whittlesey, Jared W. Wilhams, Worth-
ington — 118.

Nays. — Messrs. Adams, Alexander, H. Allen, John
W. Allen, Ayorigg, Bell, Bond, Borden, Briggs, W.
B. Calhoun, John Calhoon, Wm. B. CampbeU, Wm.



OCTOBEB, 1837.]

Treamni Notes.

[H. OF K.

B. Carter, Chambers, Cheatham, Childs, Clowney,
Corwin, Cranston, Crockett, Curtis, Cushing, Dar-
lington, Dawson, Davies, Deberry, Dennis, Dunn,
Evans, Everett, Ewing, K. Fletcher, Fillmore, Rice
Garland, Goode, Graves, Grennell, Griffin, Hall, Hal-
sted, Harlan, Harper, Hastings, Hawes, Henry, R. M.
T. Hunter, Henry Johnson, Lawler, Lincoln, A. W.
Loomis, Lyon, Mallory, Marvin, Samson Mason,
Maury, Maxwell, McKennan, Menefee, Mercer, Milli-
gan, Calvary Morris, Noyes, Ogle, Patterson, Patton,
Pearce, Peck, Phillips, Pope, Potts, Randolph, Reed,
Rencher, Ridgway, Robertson, Rumsey, Russell,
Sawyer, Sergeant, A. H. Shepperd, C. Shepard,
Shields, Sibley, Slade, Southgato, Stanly, Stratton,
Taliaferro, Thompson, Tillinghast, Toland, Towns,
Underwood, J. White, E. Whittlesey, L. Williams,
S. Williams, J. L. Williams, C. H. Williams, Wise,
Yorke— 101.

So Messrs. Gholson and Claiborne were de-
clared to have been duly elected members of
the twenty-fifth Congress from the State of
Mississippi, and, as such, entitled to their seats
on this floor.

Wednesday, October 4.
Treasury Notes.

The House went into Committee of the
Whole on the state of the Union, (Mr. Connoe in
the chair,) and resumed the consideration of the
bill " to authorize the issuing of Treasury notes."

The question was on the substitute of Mr.

Mr. BiDDLK said, in entering on his duties as
a member of this House, he had done so with a
fixed determination to be drawn into no merely-
factious opposition to those who administered
the Government. But it was undeniable, in
the high state of credit which this country en-
joyed, at home and abroad, that any method
of pledging that credit in constitutional form,
will effect the desired object with equal cer-
tainty and promptitude. If, then, the adminis-
tration has resorted to a method which is most
liable to exception ; which, in its example, is
most dangerous ; which would, in all probabil-
ity, be the least productive and the most bur-
densome ; which would tend to disguise from
the people their real condition and liabilities,
then he felt not merely at liberty, but bound to
resist it, and to turn the Government round to
a method direct, advantageous, and unexcep-

He would make a preliminary remark. The
late President^ General Jackson, had proclaim-
ed to the whole world that the bill before us is
unconstitutional, and, if passed, will not bind
the faith of the nation. In his letter to the
editor of the Globe, dated Hermitage, 23d of
July, 1837, he says : •

" I hope no Treasury notes will be issued. The
Treasury drafts upon actual deposits are constitu-
tional, and do not partake of paper credits as Treas-
ury notes, which are subject to depreciation, by the
merchants, and banks, and shavers, and brokers ;
and will be, if issued ; and the Government cannot
avoid it. Different must it be with Treasury drafts

drawn upon actual deposits ; and, from the conduct
of the banks and the merchants, they deserve no favors
from the Government, which they have attempted to
disgrace, and to destroy its credit both at home and

Now, sir, does this bill profess to authorize
drafts on actual deposits in the Treasury, or
notes to be discounted by merchants, banks,
shavers, and brokers ? The title is " A bill to
authorize the issuing of Treasury notes," and
the President and Secretary are empowered to
make the best bargain they can with these
merchants, banks, shavers, and brokers, pro-
vided not more than six per cent, be allowed.
Does any one pretend to deny that they encoun-
ter the full denunciation of General Jackson as
unconstitutional? He holds, distinctly, that
the power to borrow money does not embrace
the issue of this kind of paper.

Mr. Chairman, you will readily believe that
I am not one of those who push to an extreme
my faith in the accuracy of General Jackson's
opinions on constitutional points. That is not
the question. Is it not undeniable that such
opinions are held by many, and will exercise a
wide influence ? The chairman of the Com-
mittee of Ways and Means tells ns that these
notes are to find their resting-place in London ;
in other words, this is a new form of loan to
the United States from the detested Barings.
They ought, then, to have a clear and indispu-
table credit among those who have been soured
and alarmed at being so long held up as per-
sons whom it is meritorious to cheat, because
they happen to live on the other side of the At-
lantic. Let it be remembered, too, that, in
discussing the probabilities of the Supreme
Court declaring a certain charter unconstitu-
tional, great reliance was placed on the fact
that a large majority of the present judges had
been appointed by General Jackson. If those
judges should adopt his opinions in the present
case, what a fraud is to be practised on the
purchasers of this paper ! These are matters
which cannot remain unknown in that great
mart of the world, where rival stocks are per-
petually struggling for precedence. Nay, sir,
is it not possible that the agent for the Smith-
sonian bequest, in one of those fluctuations of
mood to which he seems subject, may repub-
lish, with a preface, the letter of General Jack-
son to Mr. Blair, as he did a certain other letter,
with a view to shake public confidence in an
American stock ?

Mr. Chairman, I have other obiections to
this bill.

No one can shut his eyes to the fact, that
this is the commencement of a new national
debt. But it wears a mask to conceal its hid-
eous countenance. With what rapturous joy
did the people hail their escape from the for-
mer load ! Abundant gratitude was claimed,
on that occasion, for General Jackson ; though
it was the result of measures matured long be-
fore, and retarded, rather than advanced, by
the increased expenditures of his administra-



H. OP E.]

Treasury Notes.

[October, 1837.

tion. There is plainly now a trembling timid-
ity — a morbid fear — after so much false boast-
ing, to lay bare the fact that the first step of
the present administration is to create a nation-
al debt. Is it right, sir, that the representa-
tives of the people should co-operate in an
effort to mislead the people ? How many of
our constituents are aware of the true charac-
ter and operation of this bill ? Is it not proper
that they should be instantly aroused, so that,
at the polls, they may begin at once to exercise
their right of claiming from candidates a pledge
of rigid economy ? How is this debt to be paid
off? Does anybody suppose that the present
emission of paper will render more available
the notes of broken banks which constitute our
present resources? On the contrary, it will
only cause their still further depreciation. You
will not be able to force them even upon the
revolutionary pensioners and the laborers in
your service. They will prove a total loss to
the holders, as was the case when the paper
tickets of irresponsible individuals were super-
seded by the paper tickets of corporations.
Sir, this thing must end in direct taxes. The
necessity may be shufl&ed off by new emissions,
but will come at last with all its accumulation.
Disguise the matter as you may, these ten millions
will have eventually to be paid out of the soil.
Unless the people are aroused, and take the
matter into their own hands, the time will
speedily come when every farmer, in preparing
for his crop, must run one furrow for himself
and the next for the tax-gatherer. Viewing
the matter even on party grounds, how is it
that an administration, pledged to follow in the
footsteps of General Jackson, begins its career
by creating a debt of ten millions, in a mode
which General Jackson has denounced as dan-
gerous and unconstitutional ?

Mr. Chairman, it has ever been a subject of
regret and astonishment that our mode of rais-
ing money is one that invites prodigality and
extravagance, &nd tends, most speedily, to ex-
haust our credit. Our wisest statesmen have
warned us, over and over again, of the fatal
impolicy of ever incurring a debt, without, at
the same time, providing a specific fund for its
redemption. Even during the late war, when
there was a disposition to put every thing at
risk, in sustaining the country, without looking
to consequences, you will find that the voice
of sagacious men was raised in protest against
this improvidence. Thus, in the debate of the
9th of April, 1814, on the subject of Treasury
notes, a patriotic member of the House of Eep-
resentatives, ilr.MoKim, used this language :

" Mr. McKira said he should be sorry to deny
to the gentleman the courtesy of having his resolu-
tion referred, were it not for one consideration. If
the gentleman would add to his motion a proposition
for such further tax as should be necessary to redeem
the notes when they became due, he should concur
in his motion. But he asked of the House to take
a deliberate view of this subject before they referred
the resolution. If there was any one point on which

Government should be cautious, it should be its
credit ; and a regard for the credit of the Govern-
ment would not justify the issuing of these notes
without providing for their redemption."

Nay, sir, the Secretary of the Treasury him-
self, in his recent report, admits the importance
of such a provision :

" In connection with the issue of any Treasury
notes, it is believed to be wise to make ample provi-
sion for their early and final redemption."

Why has this been neglected? Why is it
that Congress shall grant money with reckless
precipitation, omitting the precautions against
abuse which even an executive officer has
pointed out ?

Mr. B. said he could not forbear to press
upon the House the warning of the first Secre-
tary of the Treasury, as to the emission of
paper money by this Government :

" The emitting of paper money by the authority
of the Government is wisely prohibited to the indi-
vidual States by the national constitution, and the
spirit of that prohibition ought not to be disregarded
by the Government of the United States. Though
paper emissions, under a general authority, might
have some advantages not appUeable, and be free
from some disadvantages which are applicable, to the
like emission by the States separately, yet they are
of a nature so liable to abuse, and, it may even be
afBrmed, so certain of being abused, that the wisdom
of Government will be shown in never trusting itself
with the use of so seducing and dangerous an expe-
dient." " The stamping of paper is an operation so
much easier than the laying of taxes, that a Govern-
ment in the practice of paper emissions would rarely
fail, in any such emergency, to indulge itself too far
in the employment of that resource, to avoid as much
as possible one less auspicious to present popularity."

Here, sir, you find plainly disclosed to us the

Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 123 of 199)