Newspaper of Burlington Free Press, February 5, 1836, Page 1

Newspaper of Burlington Free Press dated February 5, 1836 Page 1
Text content (automatically generated)

HMUJJiJJIUlJiM ' NOT THE O I, O H Y OF CES A It ; 1J V T T II K WEIPARE OF R O M E. BY II. H. STACY . FRIDAY, FI3 S3 ilUT A.UY 5, 1836. VOl;. IX No. 597. FORTIFICATION BILL. Mr. V MISTER, who was chairman or Ihc Committee of Finance and consequent, ly well acquainted with all the particulars oftliis remarkable bill ofthc lust Congress, and the equally remarkable proceeding? thoroon, on the last night of tho session, on the l-tth inst. on a resolution moved by Mr Denton for setting apart the surplus revenue fur the defence of tho country, gave the history of the bill in tho follow ing SPEECH. It is not my purpose, Mr. President, (said lie ) to make any remark? nn tho Plate of cur alTaiis with France- The time for that discussion has not come, and I wait. Wu arc in daily expectation of a communication from the Pro-idcnt, which will give us light: and we arc authorized to expect a recommendation by him of such measures as lie thinks it may ho necessary and proper for Congress to adopt. I do not anticipate him. I do nut foretun him. In this mo-t important and delicate buisncss, it is the proper duty ol'lho Executive logo forward and I, fur one, do not intend either to be drawn nr driven into I ho lead- When official intcrmation shall bo before us. and when measures shall be recommended upon the proper responsibility, I shall endeavour to form the besl judgment I can, and shall act according In its dictates. I rise now, for another purpose. This resolution has drawn on a di-haio upon the general conduct of the Senate during the s,es-ion of Cmigres, and especially in re gard the proposed grant ofihreo millions to the President on the Inst inglil ofthc session. My main objret is to tell tho story of this- transaction, and lo exhibit tlic con duct of Ihu Sena'c f.iirly lo the public view. I owe this duty to the Senate. I owe it In I he committee, with which I mil connected ami although whatever is perronal to an mil vidua I i generally of too I it lie import a nee lo be made I lie subject of much reini '', I hop.- I may be permitted to say that, in n matter, in regard 10 which there has been so much misrepresentation. I wish to say a few words for the sake of defend ing my own reputation. This vole for the ihree inilliuns was pro posed by thu IIouo ol Representative:! as an amendment to the liirlificaiiou bill; and the loss oflliat bill, three millions and all, is the charge which has been made- upon the Semite, sounded over the land, and now again renewed- I propo.-e to give the true history of this bill, its progress and ils hi". Before attempting that, however, let me remark e it is worthy to be remarked, I and rcmrnilnred, that the business brought before the Senate last te.-sion, important ami various as it was, and both public and private, was all gone through wilh most uncommon disp-ucli ami proinlitude. No session lias wiinosscd u more comnlelc ch nrinc IV and finishing of the subject before us. The comunic-itioiis from the other house, whether bills or whatever else, were especially attended to in proper srason: and Willi I hat ready respect which is due fium one House to the other. I re collect not hintr of any importance which came to us from the House of Representa tives, which was hero neglected, overlook ed, or disregarded. On the other hand, it was the misfoitunc of Ihc Senate, as 1 think, the misfortune, of the country,' hat owing to the slate ol busi ness in the House of Representatives lo wards the close of the session, several measures which had ben matured in the Senate, and passed into bills, did not receive mirni on. 0 as tobeciiner agrecu io or rricetcd. in the other branch of the Leg'u lnturr. Thev fell, ofcourse, by the ler. rninalion of the session. Among these measures may be mention ed the following, viz: The Post Office .Rcfurm Pill which pass cd the Senate unanimauily and of the ncccs sitv fur which the whole country is cer tainly now most abundantly satisfied The Custom House llcguiaiions inn, which also passed nearly unanimously after a very laborious prepcration by the Committeeon Commerce, and a full discussion la llie Senate. The Judiciary Bill, passed here by a majority of thirty-one to five, and which lias again already passed the Senate at this session wun oiny a sn.giu masi-miug um-. The Bill indcmntlying claimants lor French Spoliations beloro 1800. The Bill regulating tho deposite or the public moneys in the Deposite Banks. Tlic uiii respecting inu lunuro oi terrain offices, and the power ef removal from: office which has now again passed to be encrossed, in tho Senate, by n decisive tnninrilv. All these important measures, matured nnd nasscd in the Senate in the course ol llm (.essinn. and many others whoso iinpor- tsnco was less, were sent lo the Houso of v nnresentntives. nnu wu never licaru any thing more from llicm. 1 hey there lounu (heir graves. Ii i worlhvofboing rcmarkod, also that the attendance of Iho members of the Sen ate was rcmarK-aiiio iuii, punie-uiany lu wards the end ol tne session, wo me mi day every Senator was in his place till very . i ne thn innrnnl near the hour of adjournment, as the journal will show. Wo had no breaking up for want of a quorum no de'ay on calls of the Senate nothing which was made necessary by the negligence of inattention of tho members of tliis body. On thu vote for the three millions of dollars, which was taken at a about 0 o'clock in the evening, forty-eight votes were given, every member of llie Senate being in his placcnnd answer ins to his name. This is an instance of punctuality, diligenco and labor, continued to the very end of an arduous scssion.whul )y without example or parallel. The Senate, then, sir, must stand in the judgment ofevcry wan fully acquitted ofall remissness, all negligence, all inattention amidst Iho fatigues and exhaustion of the closing hours ofCongrcss. Nothing pass ed unheeded, nothings was overlooked, nothing forgotten and nothing slighted. And now, sir, I would proceed immedi ately to givo the history of tho Forlifica tion Hill, if it were not necessary as intro ductory, nnd as showing the circumstances under which the Senate was called on lo transact the public business, first to refer to another bill which was before us, and to the proceedings which were had upon it. It is well known, sir, that thu annual appropriation bills always originate in Ihc House of Representatives. This is so much the course, that no one ever looks to see such a bill first brought Torwnrd in the Senate. I' is also well known, sir. that it has been usual, heretofore, to niako the annual appropriations for the Military A cademy at West Point in tho general bill, which provids for the pay and support of the army, lint last year, the army bill did nut contain any appropriation whatever, for the support of West Point. I took notice of I his singular omission when the bill was before the Senate, but presumed, and in deed understood, that tho House would send us a separale bill for tho Military Academy. The army bill, therefore, pass ed but no bill for the Academy at West Point appeared. We waited for it from day to day, and from week to week, but waited in vain. At length, the time for sending bills from one house lo the other according to the joint rules of tho two houses expired and no bill had made its appearance for the support of iho Military Academy. These joint rules, as is well known, are sometimes suspended nn the application of one house to the other, in favor of particular bill, whose progress has been unexpectedly delayed, but which the public interest requires to be passed. 11 u t the house of Kepresentatives sent us no request to suspend Ihc rules in favor ol a bill for the support of the Military Acad emy, nor made any other proposition to save the institution from immediate disso lution. Not withstanding all the talk about a war. and the necessity of a vote for the three mllions. I ho Military Academy, an institution cherished so long, and at so much expense, was on the very point of being entirely broken up. Now it so happened, sir, that at this time there was another appropriation bill which had come from the House of Representa tives, and was before Ihc Committee of Fi nance lirrc. The bill was entitled "An act making appropriations, for thocivil and diplomatic expenses of the government for he year I'JJ.T. In this state ofthings, several members ofihe House of Representatives applied to Hie committee, ami besought us to save ihc Arodemv by annexing the appropria tions for Us support to ihc bill lor civil and liplomiiic service. Wo spoke to them, in reply cl'tho uiifi'ncss, the irregularity, the incongruity, ol this forced union of eucIi dissimilar subjects ? but they told ns it was a case ol absolute neecssily. and lhat. without resorting lo tins mude the appro priation could not get through. Wo ac quicscod, sir, in thc-o suggestion?, We went out of our way. We agreed to do an extraordinary an in irregular thing, in order to save the public business from mis carriage. By direction of tho committee, I moved the Senate tn add an appropria tion for the Military Academy to tho bill for defraying civil and diplomatic expenses The bill was so amended ; and in Ibis form tin; appropriation was finally made Bui this was not all. Tho bill for Ihc civil and diplomatic service being thus amended by lacking the Military Academy upon it, was sent back by us to the House 0f Representatives, where its length of tail was to be still much furl her increased. l'hat House had before it several subjects for provision, and for appropriation, upon which it had not passed any bill, before tho tune for pns-ing bills to bo sent to tlic hen ate had elapsed, ft was anxious dial llieso tilings should, in someway, bo provided for, and when tho diplomatic hillcaino back drawing the Milhtary Academy after it, it was thought prudent to attach to it va nous of llieso other provisions. J lier were two propositions to pave streets in lMe Clt., 0f Washington, to repair the Cap- 1 ital, niatl various oilier tilings;, which il vvas necessary to provide for, and they, therefore werc nul ,mo lnu samc bill by way of amendment lo an amendment ; that is to Say. wo had been provailed on to amend tlicir bill lor delraymg the salary ot our ,njmsturs abroad, by adopting an anprooria (jo,, for tho Military Academy; and they proposed lo amend this our amendment, by adding to it matters ns geiinau lo It as ,t was to the original bill. There was also the President's gardener. His salary was unprovided lor ; and there was no way ol remedying this important omission, but by giving him place in ihe diplomatic service bill, among charges d'affaires, envoys extra ordinary, and ministers plenipotentiary. In and among thesu ranks, therefore, he was formally introduced by the amendment ol the House, and there ho now stands, ..ou wl rca jny BCOi jy turin2 t0 t,0 aw Sir. I hove not the pleasuro to know this ,.se-ui nersori: but should 1 sen him cnine - morning overlooking tho workmen in tiie I lawns, walks, copses, aui' parterres which adorn the grounds around the President's residence, considering the company into which wu have introduced him, I should expect to sec at least, a small diplomatic button on his working jacket. When these amendments came from the House, and were read at our table, though they caused a smile, they were yet adopt ed, and tlic law passed, almost with the rapidity of a comet, and with something l.ko tho same length of tail. Now. air, not one of llieso irregularities or incongruities, no part of this jumbling together ol distinct and dillurenl subiects, waj, in tho slightest degree, occasioned by nu v thing done, or omittPd to bo uano on the part of the senate. Their piocucdings were all regular; their decisions prompt their dispatch ofthc business c.irrect and seasonable. There was nothing of pro crastination, nothing evincive of a temper to embarrass or obstruct thepublic business. If tho history which I have now truly given shows that one thing was amended by another) which had no 6ort of connexion Willi it. that unusual expedients wore re- Korlnd tn. nnd that iho laws, instead of arrangement and symmetry, exhibit anom aly, and the most grotesque associations, it is, nevertheless, true, that no part of all this was madu necessary by us. We do vinted from the accustomed modes of legis lation only when wu were supplicated to do so. in order to supply bold and glaring doficicnccs in measures which wore before us. Hut now Mr President, lot mecomo to the Fortification Bill, the lost Bill, which not only now, but on a graver occasion, has been lamented like the lost Plei.aJ. This billl, sir, camu from the Home of Representatives to the Senate in the usual wav. and was referred to the Committee on Finance. Its appropumtions were not large. Inueod, tliey appeared to llie coin mittco to be qjile too small. I' struck a majority ol the committee at once that there were several fortifications on the coast, cither not provided for at all, or not nde qnotoly provided for by this bill, The whole amount of its appropriations was 100,000 or 430.000 dollars. It contained no grant of three millions, andiftho Sen ate had pissed it the very day it came from the House, not only could there have been no appropriation of the Ihree millions, but, sir, none of these other sums which the Senate did insert in the bill. Others, be side ourselves, saw the deficiencies of this bill. We had communications with and irom uio departments, anil we inserted in the bill every tiling which any department recommended to us We took care to be sure that nothing c!so was coming. And we then reported the bill to llioSenatc with our proposed amendments. I hero was sum of viTj.OOO for Caslle Maud, in Boston 100,000 for defences in Maryland, and so lortli. these amendments wore agreed to by Iho Senate, and one or two others ad ded, on the motion of members ! and the bill, being thus amended, was returned to the House And now, sir, it becomes imporlnnt to ask when was this bill, thus amended, re turned to tho House nf Representatives? Was it unduly detained here, so that the house was obliged after ward lo act upon it suddenly? This question is material lo bo a.-ked, and mitcrial to be answered, too, and l he journal docs satisfactorily answer it: for it appears by the journal that the bill was returned to Ihu House of Repre sentative on Tuesday, the 2 lib of Februa ry, one wltnlt week bejre the rl,sc of the smio'i. And Irom Tuesday, the 21th dav of February to Tuesday, 'the 3d day n"f .March, we heard not one word Irom this bill. Tuesday, Iho 3d day of March, was, of course, the last day of the se-siou. We assembled here at 10 or If o'clock in ihc morning of lhat. d.iy, and sal till three in the afternoon, nnd still we were not inform ed whether tho house had finally passed the uiii. ns ii was an important matter, and belonging lo that part of the public busi iiess which ujiially receive particular at tention from tho eommitlee on finance, I bore the subject in my mind, and lull some solicitude about it, seeing that the sos-inn was drawing so near lo a close I took it for granted, however, as I had not heard any thing to the contrary, that the amend ments of the senate would not bo objected to, and that when a convenient lime should arrive for taking up the bill in the house. it wovld be passed at once into a law, and we should hear no more abn:t it. Not the Slightest intimation was given, cither that tho executive wished for any larger appro priation, or that it was intended in the house to insert such larger appropriations. Not a syllable escaped from anv bodv, and came to our knowledge, lhat any farther alteration whatever was intended in the bill. At 3 o'clock in the afternoon of the 3d of ll in ;. m,6C f t0ri "3 rC-3S aS MUr ual in that period of the session, until 5. A 5, we again assembled, and proceeded with the business of the senate until 8 o ciock in mo evening; and, at 8 o'clock in llmnttnnoi.. .1 . l . ,o u. ..;;, .j ,wl ue-iuru. me cicrh ui uiu iim e appeared ai oor uoor, ami an- . it. . i r. , "Pe"",v'- "'a'"" ' "iiuui uiu ouomt: s umuuu- ,,,, , , ., , . . i.n-.nni . .. ... i-. " m. ,..,,., ,., ii.. inu tin mm jui, ii mi ugreru, wwi tm amendment ty iw own. imuw, 6ir. i uese -it h anu ut i nmenunients oiaiiro were, one, a votool jJ.j.OUU lor the . . i.nii. 111 muiui ruur. una uiu ouier, u voio 01 t,iuu,liULi lor certain delenc's in Maryland. And what, sir, was tho nddi lion which tho Houso of Representatives proposeu to make, by way ol amendment" toa vote of 75,000 for repairing the works 111 iiosion iiuruor." tleie. sir. It is: ".'Indie il further enacted That the 8UI11 01 iiirco minions ol dollars be, and the cmuu ,v iiuruuy appropriaiou, out 01 any money 111 ine 1 reasury nol otherwise ap propriaieu, 10 bo expended. 111 whole or part, unuer llie direction of the I'residuul oi uu isolates, tor the military and naval - . , -, iiitiuu.og lorillicaiioiis nnu urn iianccaud increase of the navy: Provided, Such expenditures shall be rendered neces sary for thu defence oftho country prior to tho next niccling of Uongress." 1 his proposition sir. was thus unexuect cdly and suddenly nut to us, at 0 o'clock in the evening or the last dnv ol tho ses sion. Unusual, uiipiceedcnled, exlraordi narv, as it obviously is, on the faco ol it, uiu ;hu manlier of presenting it was still mure extraordinary. The President had asked extraordinary. 1 he President had nsiieu for no such grant of money; no department had recommended it; no estimate had sug nested it: no reason whalcvcr was given lor it. No emergency had happened, and mulling now had occurred; every thing known to the administration, at that hour, respecting our foreign rulations, had ccr- tainly bjcu known to it fur days and for weeks. Willi what nroorinlv. I linn rinil.l Ihn Senate bo called on to sanction a proceed "iff so entirely irregular and anomalous? otr, I rcccollecl the occurrouccncn of the moment very well, and I remember thoim prUSSIOn Wlllcll thu vnln i.fll,.. I ci! to malio nil rntmtl ilm K bad just come out of executive session, the -mors were but just opened; and I hardly remember whether there was a single spectator in Iho hall or the galleries. I had been at the clerk's tablj, and had not reached my fiat, when the message was road. AH the Senators wero in the cham ber. I heard tho message, certainly with great surprise and astonishment: and I nnmediaUly moved the Senate lo disagree to this voio of iho House. My relation lo the subject, inconsequence of my connec tion wilii the committee on finance, made it my duty to propose some course, and I had iioi a m-jmcnl's doubt or hesitation wnat urn course ouglil to be. I took up on myself, then, sir, tho responsibility of moving that tlia senate should disagree to this vole, and I now acknowledge that re sponsibility. It might be presumptuous to say that I took a leading part, but I certainly look tin early part, a decided part, and an earnest pari, in rejecting this broad grant of three millions of dollars, without limitation of purpose or specification of ob jeel: called tor by no recommendation. lounded on no estimate, made necessary by no state nf things which was made known to us. Certainly, sir, I took a part in its rejection; I s'and hero in my place in llie Senate to-day, ready to defend th part so taken by ne; or rather, sir, I dis claim all defence, tnd all occasion nf de fence, and I nssrrt it as meritorious to have been among those who arrested, at iho earliest iiiomeat, this extraordinary de parture from all loltled usages, and as I think, from plain jonstilulional injunction this indefinite ruling of a vast sum of money, to more (xccmivo discretion, with out limit assignol, without object specified. without reason oiven, and without the least control under h;aven. Sir, lam tolcthat, in opposing this rani. 1 spoke with warmth, and I suppose I may have done so. Ifl did, it was a warmth springing Iron as honest a conviction ol duly as ever iifli.cnccd a public man. It was spontaneous, iinalU.'Clcel, sincere. There had bcrnnming us, sir, no consulla lion, no concert. There could have boon none. Bolwicn the reading of the mess age and my trilion to disagree, there wa not time eiinii'li for any two members of tin Senate to exchange live words on the sub tect. rue proposition was s-udden and perfectly unixpected. I resisted it. as ir ri.guhr, ns i ingcrous, in ilsell, and danger ous in its or e.Nleni; as wholly iinnccessa ry, am: a iting the pl.iio intention, if not ilia c.vpre.-s words of the Constitution. lietoru trio Senate, then, I avowed, and be- tore the ciuntry I now avow my part in this oppi-ilion. Whatsoever is lo fall on those wio sanctioned it, of that let me have my full share. I ho C' nale, sir. rejected this grant by a vote oi'wenly nine against nineteen. Those t) names arc on the journal; and whensoever the expunging process may commen.-c, or how far soever it may be carried,! pray it, in mercy, not to erase mine fnm the record. I beseech it, in its spiring goodness, to leave mo that proof of uiiuuiiiu-.m io ouiv anu io principle. It may drtw around it, over it, or through it mack incs. or red lines, or any lines: it may mo-k it in any way, which either the most prjstratc and Inntaslical spirit of man worship, or t he most ingenious and elabo rate stvly nf sell degradation may devise, if only will leave it so that those who in. herit in- blood or who may lierafter care for my -eputation. shall bo able to behold it whor: it now stands. I ho muse, sir, insisted on the amend- mcnt. The Souato adhered to ilsdisagrce men!; ;!ie house asked a conference, to which rcnest the Senate immedmtelu eeiled. 'llie entu ..f r . ,i in , t,, " ,.r m'1' mcnl- T,iey 8rocd l" recommend totl,eir respective houses, as a substitute for the voto proposed bv tho house, thn folln,uin. ..A3 a additional appropriation for nr' ,,,, tno fortifications ofihe United SmiM I . . . . - . w . three hundred thousand dollars." "As an additional appronriation for the repair and equipment of ships of war of the ijnttni mates, livo hunt mi i n u I " UW, - On thcmorc general point, I must say, 1 immediate V rcoorted this agreement 0f t10 committees of conference to the son ..,. i. ,ncn,ni, ,i. i..n ...... :.. I lll. '-... 1 1,, gin uun ua IIIU UIII U, III IHU house'of representives, the Sonato could i act urlher on the matter unll the house snould first have considered the re- oort oftho committees, decided thereon, a, seat U4 w bill. I did not myself take any n )e oftho particular hour 01' this pari ofthc transaction. The honurablo nium- u. mm rnmlll (r. l,ii,i he I milieu It ltd Iiij tvnlnli nt tin Itmiv nml hit nuws (bat I had come from the conference. am ww ,n ,,,y seat at a quarter past eleven j lave)lo reason to think that he is under in Qnv inutaku in this narticular. He says it J 1 . .. ., r ....... 1 . 1, 1,,, 1...1 .,nti 1,. it.-., IDUIIU,'.V,IU,IIUW,tl,l4,.uwvUdu., . " iui.b nolicoiif tho hour, nnd well remembers it. I nml mil wn hivn mnil nlm t un I UU. as anyone will bu satisfied who wilt look at ourhunruale, public und executive, and sea a massof business was dispatched alter 1 came Irom tho committees, and liclorotho ndournuienl ol the boiiate. Havin? made the report, sir. I had doubt lhat both houses would concur in thu i os 11 1 1 ot the conference, nnd looked every momei t for the ofiicer of the house bring ,nt, .,a i,-,t jju UJ ol co aj ( protty toon learned that however, 0I1j pnmy iQm earlle( .lal ,,oro wa3 dmibl whether thu coinmittoe on tho pari of thu IIou.u wouiu report to tho house iho agreement of iho conference. At first I did nol at all credit tins; but it was con firmud by one communication aflor nnoth- cr until 1 was obliged to think it true.- 1 Seeing that tho bill was thus in danger being lost, and intending at any rate lhat no ulimo should be justly attached to th? Senate. I immediately moved the following resolution: "Resolved, That a message bo sent to the honorable House of Representees re spectfully to remind the house of the report of the committee of conference appointed on the disagreeing votes of tho two houses on the amendment of the houso to the amendment of the Senate to the bill re spooling til o fortifications of tlic United States."' You recollect this resolution, sir. having, as I recollect, taken soma part on the occa sion. The resolution wa3 promptly passed; the Secretary carried it to the House, and delivered it. What was done in I ho houso on the receipt of this message now appears from the printed journal. I have no wish io comment on the proceedings thero re corded all may read liiem, and cao'i be nom to inrin Ins own opiniin. Suffice it to sav that tho House of Rnnrnsnnlntivns having then possession of tlie bill, chose to retain uiai possession, anil never acted on tho report of tho committee. The bill tberofi ire was lost. It was lost in tin House of Representatives. It died thero. and there ils remains are to be found. No opportunity was given to the members of the Homo to decide whether they would agree to tho report of tho two committees or not. 1- rom a quarter past eleven, when the report was agreed to, until two or three o clock in the morning, the Houso remain ed in session. If at auv time the're wis not a quorum of members present, Iho attend anco ot a quorum, we are to presume might have been commanded, as there was undoubtedly a great majority of tho mem uors sun in the city. But now. sir there is one other transac tion of the evening, which I feel bound to state, because I think it important, on sev oral accounts, tint it should bo known. A nomination wa3 ponding before the Supreme Court. In the course of the sit ting, that nomination wa? called up, and, on motion, was indefinitely postponed. In other words, it was rejected; for an iedefi nito postponement is a rejection. The office, nf course, remained vacant, and the nomination ofanother person to fill it, be came nc:essary. The President of the U. Slates was I hen in tho capilal, as is usual on the oveningof the laslday ofthc session, in the Chamber assigned to him, and with the bonds of demarlments around him. When nominations tire rejected under these circumstances, it Ins been usual for the President immediately to transmit a new nomination to tho Senate; otherwise the office must remain vacant till the next scs ion, as the vacancy in such case has not happened in the recess of C. ingress. The vote of the Senate indefinitely postponing ! this nomination, was carried to the 1're-u dent's room by the Secretary of the Senate rue rrcsiuent told the Secretary lhat it was more than nn hour past 12 o'clock. and that he could receive no farther com munications from tho Senate, and immedi atcly after, as I have understood, loft tho capilal. The Secretary brought back the p iper containing the certified cony of the vote of the Senate, and endorsed thereon the substance ofthc President's answer. and also a Ided thai, according to his own watch, it was a quarter nasi one o'clock. Thero arc two views, sir, in which this occurrence may well deserve to be noticed. Una is a connexion which it m.iv nerhiD have with Ihc loss ot the lorliucalion bill the other is, its general importance, as in trnducing a new practice, respecting the intercourse between the President and the houses of Congress on the last day of llie session. On the first point I shall oulv obscrv that the fact of the President's having do chned to receive this communication Irom tho Senate, and of Ins having left the cap ital, was immediately known in the house of representatives; that it was quite obv ous lhat il he could not receive a cominu nication from the Senate, neither could lie receive a bill from the ho'ise of rcpresenta tives for his signature. It was equally ob vious', that if, under these circumstances the houso of representatives should agree to the report of the committees of confer ence, so that the bill should pass, it must. nevertheless, lail to become a law, lor want of the President's sis-nature; and that in that case, tho blame of losing (he bill on whomsoever it might fall, could not be Ul.l ,i. ,UI1I (Iff, I II IHU CLimiV It r. I ml ilo ilnei.inn nf i ,.. Preii not. nol to hold communication with the Houses ot p .0... .0 .1... 11 ..r ) uuiiifiuai UIIUI w M UU'LOt, till IHU -J. UI March, is quite new. No such objection has over lieen made ue oro bv anv 1'resi dent. No one of them has ever declined communicat'incr with either Huusu at anv tune during the continuance of tho session on that. day. All Presidents, heretofore, have left it with the Houses themselves to fix their hour of adjourment, and to bring their session, for thu day, to a close, when ever they saw lit. It is notorious, in point ol fact, that noth ing is more common than for both Houses to sit later than l' o'clock, for thu nnrnose I r ,.,., i.,i..,,. ....,., .i,;i, ,..: ,i, last stages of their progress. Amendments HI WIIIIHUI 111 IIILHIIIIVn .Vllli.ll UIU III lllb urn nmni.:,n nni n.rr..n, In l.illj n,se, enrolled bills signed by the presiding otfi cers, and other important legislative acts performed often at - or 3 o'clock in the morning. All this is very we'll known to gentlemen who have be'on lor any consid no erable tunc members of Congress. And all j Presidents have signed hills, and have also inane nominations to iho senate, without - objection as lo time, whenever bills have been presented fur signature, or whenever ,t became noce.sarytu make nouiinations to tho senate. . it any lime during thu session of tho respective houses on that day. Ami all this, sir, I suppose to be perfect ly right, correct and legal. I here is no clause of the constitution, nor is there any ofl Mr King, of Alabama, v.u In ilia Cluir. law. which declares that the term nf offieo of members of the II him of Representa tives shall expire at i o'clock nt night on the 3d nf March. They aro to hold for two years, but the precise hour of the com mencement of that term of two years is no where fixed by constitutional or legal pro viainn. Il l.nen established by usage and by inference, and very properly estab lished, that, since tho hrst uongross com menced its existence on the first Wednes day in March. 1709. which happened to ba the 4ih day ofthat month, thorctorc, mo Hli of March is the a ly oi tne commuouu mcnl of each successive term, but no hoitr is fixed by la'.v or practice. The trucrula is, as I think, most undoubtedly that the session hol.Ien on the last day, consti tutes tho last day for all legislalivo nnd legal purposes. While tho session commenced nn that day continues, tho day Itself continues, accarding to -lished practice both of legislative and judi cial bodies. This could not well be other wise. If tho precise mimont of actual time were to settle such a matter, it would be material to ask, who should settle tho time? Shall it b j done by public authori ty, or shall every man obieivo the tick of his own walch? If absolute time is to furnish a precise rule, the oxces3 of a min ute, it is obvious, would be as fatal as the excess of an hour. Sir, no bodies, judicial or legislative, have ever boon so hypercrit ical, so astute to no purpose, sa much moro nice than wise, a3 to govern themselves by any such ideas. The session for the day, at whatever hour it connnonc '8 or at what ever hour it breaks up, is the legislative day. Kvery thing has reference to tho commencement of lint diurnal session. For inslaneu tbis is Ihi 14th day of Janua ry; we assembled here to day nt 12 o'clock our journal is dated January 1-llh, and if we should remain here until 5 o'clock to morrow morning, (and the Senate Ins sometimes sat so late,) our procedings would still bear date of the Mth of Janua ry ; they would be so stated upon the jour nal, and tho journal is a record, and is a conclusive record, so far as respects thu proceedings of a body. If a man were on trill for his life, at a late hour on iho last day allowed by Jaw for the holding of the court, and the jury acquitted him, but happened to remain so long in deliberation that they did not bring in their verdict till after 12 o'clock, is it at all to ba hold for nought, and the man to be trie I over again? Aro all verdicts, judgments, and orders of courts null and void if made after midnight on the day which the law prescribes as the last day ? Il would be ea-y to show by authority, if authority could be wanted for a thinj, the reason of which is so clear, that the day lasts while the daily session lasts. When tho coun or the legislative b uly ad journs for lhat day, the day is over and not before. I am told, indeed sir, that it is true that on this same 3d day of March last, not only were other things transacted, but that the bill for the repair of the Cumberland road, nn important and much litigated measure, actually received the signature of our presiding officer after 12 oelock, was than sent to the Prdsidcnt, and signed by him. I do not affirm tins, because I took no notice of the time, or do not re mcmbar il if I did ; but I have heard tho matter so stated. I see no reason sir, for the introduction of this new practice; no principle on which it can bo justified, no necessity for it, no propriety in it. As yet, it has been applied only to the President's intercourse with the Senalo. Certainly il is equally appli cable lo his intercourse with bith Houses in legislative matters; and if it is to prevail hereafter, it is of much importance that it be known. The President of tho United States sir, has alluded to this loss of the fortification bill in his message at the opening of the session, and be has alluded also in ihe same message, to the rejection of the vote oftho three millions. On the first point, that is, the loss of the whole bill, and the causes ofthat loss, this is his language : Much loss and inconvenience have been experienced in dviscquencc of the failure of thu bill containing the ordinary approoriations for fortifications which pass ed one branch of the national legislature at the last session, but was lost in the oilier." If the President intended to say that the bill, having originated in the House of Re presentatives passed the Senate, and was yet afterwards lost in the House of Rep resentatives, he was eniirely correct. Hut ho has been altogether wrongly informed, il he intended to state that the bill having passed the Houso was lost iu llie Senate. As 1 have already stated, tho bill wa3 lost in the Houso of Representative). It drew its last breath there. Tho House never lot go its hold on it nflcr the report of tho committee of conference. But it held it. it died in its possession when the I louse adjourned. Ii is lo be regrctled lhat the President should have been misinformed in a muter oi this itinu, wuen mo slightest reference to the journals ofihe two Houses would have exhibited the correct history of the transaction. I recur again, Mr. President, to tho proposed grant oftho three millions, for tho purpose of stating somewhat more dis tincily the ttue grounds of objection to that grant. The.-c grounds of objection wore tw'o: the first was, that no such appropriation had been recommended by the President or any oftho departments. And what made this ground the stronger was, lhat tho proposed grant was defended, so far as il was def'.'iided at all, upon an alleged neces sity, growing out of our foreign relations. 'Ph., t'.,r..iirn mint imwo f i hn noon I t v are en- . . w... . - J ' trusted by the Constitution to the lead I and management oftho Uxcculivc Govern ment. I hu I'resideut not only is supposed to be but usually is much better informed on these interesting subjects than tho Hous es of Cuiigress. If thero be danger of rupture with a for- f

Other pages from this issue: