United States. Congress.

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

. (page 44 of 183)
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 44 of 183)
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SAMUEL CHASE.

Sworn to, this third day of January, 1805, before
SAMUEL HAMILTON.

Whereupon the following motion was made
by Mr. Bbadlet:

" Ordered, That Samuel Chase file his answer, with
the Secretary of the Senate, to the several articles of
impeachment exhibited against him, by the House of
Eepresentatives, on or before the day of ."

On motion, by Mr. Beeokeneidge, to fill the
blank with the words " the fourth day of Feb-
ruary next," the yeas and nays being taken, it
passed in the affirmative — ^yeas 22, nays 8, as
follows :

Yeas. — Messrs. Adams, Anderson, Baldwin, Breck-
enridge. Brown, Coudit, Ellery, Franklin, Giles,
Howlaud, Jackson, Logan, Maclay, Mitchill, Moore,
Smith of Maryland, Smith of New York, Smith of
Ohio, Smith of Vermont, Sumter, Worthington, and
Wright.

Nats. — ^Messrs. Bradley, Dayton, HiUhonse, Olcott,
Pickering, Plumer, Tracy, and White.

Ordered, That the Secretary notify the House
of Eepresentatives, and Samuel Chase, thereof.



[Between this day, and that assigned for re-
ceiving the answer of Mr. Chase, the Senate
Chamber was fitted up in a style of appropriate
elegance. Benches, covered with crimson, on
each side, and in a line with the chair of the
President, were assigned to the members of the
Senate. On the right and in front of the chair,
a box was assigned to the Managers, and on the
left a similar box to Mr. Chase and his counsel,
and chairs allotted to such friends as he might
introduce. The residue of the floor was occupied
■with chairs for the accommodation of the mem-
bers of the Honse of Eepresentatives ; and with
boxes for the reception of the foreign Ministers,
and civil and military oflScers of the United
States. On the right and left of the chair, at the
termination of the benches of the members of the
Oom't, boxes were assigned to stenographers.
The permanent gallery was allotted to the indis-
criminate admission of spectators. Below this
gallery, and above the floor of the House, a new
gallery was raised, and fitted up with peculiar
elegance, intended primarily for the exclusive
accommodation of ladies. But this feature of
the arrangement, made by the Vice President,
was at an early period of the trial abandoned, it



having been found impracticable to separate the
sexes I At the termination of this gallery, on
each side, boxes were specially assigned to ladies
attached to the families of public characters.
The preservation of order was devolved on the
Marshal of the District of Columbia, who was
assisted by a number of deputies.]



TEIAL OF SAMUEL CHASE.
Monday, February 4, 1805.

About a quarter before ten o'clock the Court
was opened by proclamation, all the members
of the Senate, thirty-four, attending.

The Chamber of the Senate, which is very
extensive, was soon fiUed with spectators, a
large portion of whom consisted of ladies, who
continued, with little intermission, to attend
during the whole course of the trial.

The oath prescribed was administered to Mr.
Bataed, Mr. Cooke, Mr. Gauxabd, and Mr.
Stone, members of the Court, who were not
present when it was before administered.

Ordered, That the Secretary give notice to
the House of Eepresentatives that the Senate
are in their public chamber, and are ready to
proceed on the trial of Samuel Chase ; and that
seats are provided for the accommodation of
the members.

In a few minutes the Managers, viz : Messrs.
J. Eandolph, Eodnkt, Nioholson, Botlb, G.
W. Campbell, Eaelt, and Claek, accompa-
nied by the House of Eepresentatives in Com-
mittee of the Whole, entered and took their
seats.

Samuel Chase being called to make answer
to the articles of impeachment, exhibited against
him by the Honse of Eepresentatives, appear-
ed, attended by Messrs. Haepee, Maetin, and
HoPKDsrsoN, his counsel ; to whom seats were
assigned.

The Peesidbnt, after stating to Mr. Chase the
indulgence of time which had been allowed, in-
quired if he was prepared to give in his answer?

Mr. Chase said he had prepared it, as well
as circumstances would pennit ; and submitted
the following motion :

" Samuel Chase moves for permission to read his
answer, by himself and his counsel, at the bar of this
honorable Court."

The Peesident asked him if it was the answer
on which he meant to rely ? to which he replied
in the affirmative.

The motion being agreed to by a vote of the
Senate, Mr. Chase commenced the reading of
his answer, (in which he was assisted by Messrs.
Haepee and Hopkinson,) as follows :*

This respondent, in his proper person, comes
into the said Court, and protesting that there is
no high crime or misdemeanor particularly al- ■
leged in the said ai-ticles of impeachment, to
which he is, or can be bound by law to make
answer ; and saving to himself now, and at all

* The argumentative parts of the answer are omitted as
being reproduced in the pleadings.



DEBATES OP CONGRESS.



179



Trial of Judge CTmse.



times hereafter, all benefit of exception to the
insufficiency of the said articles, and each of
them, and to the defects therein appearing in
point of law, or otherwise ; and protesting dso,
that he onght not to he injured in any manner,
by any words, or by any want of form in this his
answer ; he submits the following facts and ob-
servations by way of answer to the said articles.

The first article relates to his supposed mis-
conduct in the trial of John Fries, for treason,
before the circuit court of the United States at
Philadelphia, in April and May, 1890 ; and al-
leges that he presided at that trial, and that,
" unmindful of the solemn duties of his office,
and contrary to the sacred obhgation by which
he stood bound to discharge them faithfully and
impartially, and without respect to persons," he
did then, " in his judicial capacity, conduct him-
self in a manner highly arbitrary, oppressive,
and unjust."

This general accusation, too vague in itself for
reply, is supported by three specific charges of
misconduct :

1st. " In delivering an opinion, in writing, on
the question of law, on the construction of
which the defence of the accused materially
depended : " which opinion, it is alleged, tend-
ed to prejudice the minds of the jury against
the case of the said John Fries, the prisoner,
before counsel had been heard in his favor.

2d. " In restricting the counsel for the said
John Fries, from recurring to such English au-
thorities as they believed apposite ; or from cit-
ing certain statutes of the United States which
they deemed illustrative of the positions, upon
which they intended to rest the defence of their
client."

3d. " In debarring the prisoner from his con-
stitutional privilege of addressing the jury
(through his counsel) on the law, as well as on
the fact, which was to determine his guilt or in-
nocence, and at the same time endeavoring to
wrest from the jury their indisputable right to
hear argument, and determine upon the ques-
tion of law, as well as the question of fact, in-
volved in the verdict which they were required
to give."

This first article then concludes, that in con-
sequence of this irregular conduct of this re-
spondent, " the said John Fries was deprived of
die right secured to him by the eighth article
amendatory of the constitution, and was con-
demned to death, without having been heard by
counsel, in his defence."

In the year 1794, an insurrection took place
in four of the western counties of Pennsylvania,
with a view of resisting, and preventing by force
the execution of these two statutes ; and a cir-
cuit court of the Upited States, held at Philadel-
phia, for the district of Pennsylvania, in the
month of April, in the year 1795, by "William Pat-
terson, Esq., then one of the Associate Justices of
the Supreme Conrt of the United States, and
the above-mentioned Eichard Peters, then dis-
trict judge of the United States, for the district
of Pennsylvania, two persons, who had been



concerned in the above-named insurrection,
namely, Philip Vigol and John Mitchell, were
indicted for treason, of levying war against the
United States, by resisting and preventing by
force the execution of the two last-mentioned
acts of Congress ; and were, after a fuU and
very solemn trial, convicted of the indictments
and sentenced to death. They were afterwards
pardoned by George "Washington, then Presi-
dent of the United States.

In the first of these trials, that of "Vigol, the
defence of the prisoner was conducted by very
able counsel, one of whom, "William Lewis, Esq.,
is the same person who appeared as counsel for
John Fries, in the trial now under considera-
tion. Neither that learned gentleman, nor his
able colleague, then thought proper to raise the
question of law, " whether resisting and pre-
venting by armed force the execution of a par-
ticular law of the United States, be a ' levying
of war against the United States,' " according to
the trne meaning of the constitution? although
a decision of this question in the negative mast
have acquitted the prisoner. But in the next
trial, that of Mitchell, this question was asked
on the part of the prisoner, and was very fully
and ably discussed by his counsel ; and it was
solemnly determined by the Court, both the
judges concurring, " that to resist, or prevent by
armed force, the execution of a particular law
of the United States, is a levying of war against
the United States, and consequently is treason,
within the true meaning of the constitution."
The decision, according to the best established
principles of our jurisprudence, became a pre-
cedent for all courts of equal or inferior juris-
diction ; a precedent which, although not ab-
solutely obligatory, ought to be viewed with
very great respect, especially by the court in
which it was made, and ought never to be de-
parted from, but on the fullest and clearest con-
viction of its incorrectness.

On the 9th of July, an act of Congress was
passed, providing for a valuation of lands and
dwelling-houses, and an enumeration of slaves
throughout the United States ; and directing
the appointment of commissioners and assess-
ors for carrying it into execution ; and on the
4th day of July, in the same year, a direct tax
was laid by another act of Congress of that
date, on the lands, dwelling-houses, and slaves,
so to be valued and enumerated.

In the months of February and March, A. D.
1799, an insurrection took place in the counties
of Bucks and Northampton, in the State of
Pennsylvania, for the purpose of resisting and
preventing by force the execution of the two
last-mentioned acts of Congress, and particu-
larly that for the valuation of lands and dwell-
ing-houses. John Fries, the person mentioned
in the article of impeachment now under con-
sideration, was apprehended and committed to
prison, as one of the ringleaders of this insur-
rection ; and at a circuit court of the United
States, held at Philadelphia, in and for the dis-
trict of Pennsylvania, in the month of April,



180



ABRIDaMENT OF THE



Trial of Judge Chaae.



A. D. 1799, he was brought to trial for this ofifence,
on an indiotment for treason, by levying war
against the United States, before James Iredell,
Esq., then one of the Associate Justices of the
Supreme Court of the United States, who pre-
sided in the said court, according to law, and
the above-mentioned Richard Peters, then dis-
trict judge of the United States, for the district
of Pennsylvania, who sat in the said circuit
court as assistant judge.

In this trial, which was conducted with great
solemnity, and occupied nine days, the prisoner
was assisted by William Lewis and Alexander
James Dallas, Esqs., two very able and eminent
counsellors ; the former of whom, William Lewis,
is the person who assisted, as above mentioned,
in conducting the defence of Vigol, on a similar
Indictment. These gentlemen, finding that the
facts alleged were fuUy and undeniably proved,
by a very minute and elaborate examination of
witnesses, thought proper to rest the case of the
prisoner on the question of law which had been
determined in the cases of Vigol and Mitchell,
above mentioned, and had then been acquiesced
in, but which they thought proper again to raise.
They contended, "that to resist by force of
arms a particular law of the United States, does
not amount to levying war against the United
States, within the true meaning of the consti-
tution, and therefore is not treason, but a riot
only." This question they argued at great
length, and with all the force of their learning
aud genius ; and after a full discussion at the
bar, and the most mature deliberation by the
Court, the learned and excellent judge who then
presided, and who was no less distinguished by
his humanity and tenderness towards persons
tried before him, than by his extensive knowl-
edge and great talents as a lawyer, pronounced
the opinion of himself and bis colleague, " that
to resist, or prevent by force, the execution of
a particular law of the United States, does
amount to levying war against them, within
the true meaning of the constitution, and does,
therefore, constitute the crime of treason : "
thereby adding the weight of another and more
solemn decision to the precedent which had been
established in the above-mentioned cases of Vi-
gol and Mitchell.

Under this opinion of the Court on the ques-
tion of law, the jury, having no doubt as to the
facts, found the said John Fries guilty of trea-
son on the above-mentioned indictment. But
a new trial was granted by the Court, not by
reason of any doubt as to the correctness of the
decision on the question of law, but solely on
the ground, as this respondent hath understood
and believes, that one of the jurors of the petit
jury, after he was summoned, but before he was
sworn on the trial, had made some declaration
imfavorable to the prisoner.

On the 11th day of April, 1800, and from that
day until the 2d day of May in the same year,
a circuit court of the United States was held at
Philadelphia, in and for the district of Penn-
sylvania, before this respondent, then one of the



Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the
United States, and the above-mentioned Eich-
ard Peters, then district judge of the United
States for the district of Pennsylvania. At this
court the indictment on which the said John
Fries had been convicted as above mentioned,
was quashed ex officio by William Eawle, Esq.,
then attorney of the United States for the dis-
trict of Pennsylvania, and a new indictment
was by him preferred against the said John
Fries, for treason of levying war against the
United States, by resisting and preventing by
force in the manner above set forth, the execu-
tion of the above-mentioned acts of Congress,
for the valuation of lands and dwelling-houses,
and the enumeration of slaves, and for levying
and collecting a direct tax. This indictment,
of which a true copy, marked No. 1, is here-
with exhibited by this respondent, who prays
that it may be taken as part of this his answer,
being found by the grand jury on the 16th day
of April, 1800, the said John Fries was on the
same day arraigned thereon, and plead not
guilty. William Lewis, and Alexander James
Dallas, Esqs., the same persons who had con-
ducted his defence at his former trial, were
again at his request assigned by the Court as his
counsel ; and his trial was appointed to be had
on Tuesday the 22d day of the last-mentioned
month of April.

After this indictment was found by the grand
jury, this respondent considered it with great
care and deliberation, and finding from the
three overt acts of treason which it charged,
that the question of law arising upon it was the
same question which had already been decided
twice in the same , court, on solemn argument
and deliberation, and once in that very case, he
considered the law as settled by those decisions,
with the correctness of which, on full consider-
ation, he was entirely satisfied ; and by the
authority of which he should have deemed
himself bound, even had he regarded the ques-
tion as doubtful in itself. They are moreover
in perfect conformity with the uniform tenor
of decisions in the courts of England and Great
Britain, from the Revolution in 1688 to the
present time, which, in his opinion, added
greatly to their weight and authority.

It was for these reasons that on tiie 22d day
of April, 1800, when the said John Fries was
brought into court, and placed in the prisoners'
box for trial, but before the petit jury were im-t
panelled to try him, this respondent informed
the above-mentioned William Lewis, one of liia
counsel, the aforesaid Alexander James Dallas
not being then in court, " that the Court had
deliberately considered the indiotment against
John Fries for treason, and the three several
overt acts of treason stated therein : that the
crime of treason was defined by the Constitution
of the United States. That as the Federal Le-
gislature had the power to make, alter, or re-
peal laws, so the judiciary only had the power,
and it was their duty, to declare, expound and
interpret the Constitution and laws of the Unit-



DEBATES OP CONGRESS.



181



Tried of Judge Chase.



ed States. That it was the duty of the Court,
in all criminal oases, to state to the petit jury
their opinion of the law arising on the facts ;
Vmt the petit jury, in all criminal cases, were to
decide both the law and the facts, on a consid-
eration of the whole case. That there must be
some constructive exposition of the terms used
in the constitution, " levying war against the
United States." That the question, what acts
amounted to levying war against the United
States, or the Government thereo:^ was a ques-
tion of laV, and had been decided by Judges
Patterson and Peters, in the cases of Vigol and
Mitchell, and by Judges IredeU and Peters, in
the case of John Fries, prisoner at the bar, in
April 1799. That Judge Peters remained of
the same opinion, which he had twice before
delivered, and he, this respondent, on long and
great consideration, concurred in the opinion of
Judges Patterson, IredeU, and Peters. That to
prevent unnecessary delay, and to save time on
the trial of John Fries, and to prevent a delay
of justice, in the great number of civil causes
depending for trial at that term, the Court had
drawn up in writing their opinion of the law,
arising on the overt acts stated in the indict-
ment against John Pries ; and had directed
David Caldwell, their olez-k, to make out three
copies of their opinion, one to be delivered to
the attorney of the district, one to the counsel
for the prisoner, and one to the petit jury, after
they shall have been impanelled and heard the
indictment read to them by the clerk, and after
the district attorney should have stated to them
the law on the overt acts alleged in the indict-
ment, as it appeared to him."

After these observations, this respondent de-
livered one of the above-mentioned copies to
the aforesaid William Lewis, then attending as
one of the prisoner's counsel ; who read part
of it, and then laid it down on the table before
him. Some observations were then made on
the subject, by him and the above-mentioned
Alexander James Dallas, who had then come
into court ; hut this respondent doth not now
recollect those observations, and cannot under-
take to state them accurately.

As to the second specific charge adduced in
support of the first article of impeachment,
which accuses this respondent '' of restricting
the counsel for the said Fries from recurring
to such English authorities as they believed ap-
posite, or from citing certain statutes of the
United States, which they deemed illustrative
of the positions upon which they intended to
rest the defence of their client," this respondent
admits that he did, on the above-mentioned
trial, express it as his opinion to the aforesaid
counsel for the prisoner, "that the decisions
in England, in cases of indictments for treason
at common law, against the person of the King,
ought not to be read to the jury, on trials for
treason under the Constitution and statutes of
the United States ; because such decisions could
not inform, but might mislead and deceive the
jury : that any decisions on cases of treason, in



the courts of England, befoi'e the Eevolution of
1688, ought to have very little influence in the
courts of the United States ; that he would per-
mit decisions in the courts of England or oi
Great Britain, since the said Eevolution, to be
read to the court or jury, for the purpose of
showing what acts have been considered by
those courts, as a constructive levying of war
against the King of that country, in his legal ca-
pacity, but not against his person ; because
levying war against liis Qovernment was of the
same nature as levyiag war against the Govern-
ment of the United States : but that such deci-
sions, nevertheless, were not to be considered
as authorities binding on the courts and juries
of this country, but merely in the light of opin-
ions entitled to gi-eat respect, as having been
delivered, after full consideration, by men of
great legal learning and abUity.

It is only, then, for the correctness of his
motives in delivering these opinions, that he can
now be called to answer ; and this correctness
ought to be presumed, unless the contrary ap-
pear by some direct proof, or some violent pre-
sumption, arising from his general conduct on
the trial, or from the glaring impropriety of the
opinion itself. For he admits that cases may
be supposed, of an opinion delivered by a judge,
so palpably erroneous, unjust, and oppressive,
as to preclude the possibility of its having pro-
ceeded from ignorance or mistake.

With respect to the statutes of the United
States, which he is charged with having pre-
vented the prisoner's counsel from citing on the
aforesaid trial, he denies that he prevented any
act of Congress from being cited either to the
Court or jury on the said trial, or declared at
any time that he would not permit the prisoner's
counsel to read to the jury or to the Court any
act of Congress whatever. Nor does he re-
member or believe that he expressed on the
said trial any disapprobation of the conduct of
the circuit court, before whom the said case was
first tried, in permitting the act of Congress re-
lating to crimes less than treason, commonly
called the Sedition Act, to be read to the jury.
He admits indeed that he was then and still is of
opinion that the said act of Congress was wholly
irrelevant to the issue, in the trial of John Fries,
and therefore ought not to have been read to
the jury, or regarded by them.

And this respondent further answering saith,
that after the above-mentioned proceedings had
taken place in the said trial, it was postponed
until the next day, (Wednesday, April 23,
1800,) when, at the meeting of the Court, this
respondent told both the above-mentioned
counsel for the prisoner, that, " to prevent any
misunderstanding of any thing that had passed
the day before, he would inform them, that,
although the Court retained the same opinion of
the law, arising on the overt acts charged in
the indictment against Fries, yet the counsel
would be permitted to ofifer arguments to the
Court, for the purpose of showing them that
they were mistaken in the law ; and that the



182



ABKIDGMENT OP THE



Trial of Judge Chase.



Court, if satisfied that they had erred in opin-
ion, would correct it ; and also that the coun-
sel would be permitted to argue before the petit
jury that the Court were mistaken in the law."
And this respondent added, that the Court had
given no opinion as to the facts in the case,
about which both the counsel had declared that
there would be no controversy.

After some observations by the said William
Lewis and Alexander James Dallas, they both
declared to the Court, " that they did not any
longer consider themselves as the counsel for
John Fries, the prisoner." This respondent
then asked the said John Fries, whether he
wished the Court to appoint other counsel for
his defence ? He refused to have other coun-
sel assigned ; in which he acted, as this re-
spondent believes and charges, by the advice of
the said WiUiam Lewis and Alexander James
Dallas : whereupon, the Court ordered the trial
to be had on the next day, Thursday, the 24th
of April, 1800.

On that day the trial was proceeded in ; and
before the jurors were sworn, they were, by the
direction of the Court, severally asked on oath,
whether they were in any way related to 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 44 of 183)