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February 24th, authorized a subscription to the stock of the Maysville and Lexington road Company. It was passed in Committee of the whole House, on the 26th of April, and on the 28th of April, it was ordered to a third reading, 96jyeas, 87 nays. The next day Mr Martin of South Carolina moved that it be laid on the table, which was negatived, 85 yeas, 102 nays. The previous question being then called for by Mr Crockett,the bill passed, 102 yeas, 85 nays, and was sent to the Senate for concurrence.
In that body Mr Forsyth moved when it came up for consideration (May 14th) to strike out the 1st section of the bill, but the motion was rejected, yeas 18, nays 25. The next day the bill was passed, yeas 24, nays 18, and on the 19th of May, it was signed and sent to the President. The President retained the bill until the 27th, when he returned it to the House with his objections, as set forth at length in his message before referred to.
According to this message he seems to be of opinion, that under the Constitution, Congress can in no case construct or promote any works of internal improvement within the limits of a State provided the jurisdiction of the territory occupied by them be necessary for their preservation and use.
As to the appropriation of money in aid of such works, when undertaken by State authority surrendering the claim of jurisdiction, the message advances the opinion, that by the practical construction of the Federal Con
stitution, Congress has acquired the power to appropriate money in aid of works of internal improvement provided such works be of a general not local-national not State character.' The work in question he considered of the latter class, and he therefore returned the bill authorizing the subscription to its stock to the House where it originated. Besides this view of the subject, the President went into an examination of the expediency of entering upon a system of internal improvement and by reasons referring to the liquidation of the public debt and the extravagant character of certain proposed improvements indicated a feeling of hostility to the exercise of the power by Congress.
The reading of this message produced great excitements in Congress. Many of the friends of the President from Pennsylvania and from the west, had relied upon his adhering to his former opinions on this question, and this message first forced upon their minds a conviction as unwelcome as it was unexpected.
The consideration of the sub- ' ject was postponed until the next day (May 28th,) when the House proceeded to the reconsideration of the bill.
The question was upon the passage of the bill, notwithstanding the objections of the President. The Constitution, in such cases requires a vote of two thirds of both Houses of Congress to confirm the bill.
Mr Daniel said, he had supported the measure condemned by the message, but, as a co-or
dinate branch of the Government has called on this body to stop their career, he, for one, was disposed to give the people of the nation an opportunity to consider, coolly and dispassionately, the objections urged by the President against the mode of appropriating money to objects not national. It is the first time in the history of the world that the Executive of a nation has interposed his authority to stop extravagant and ruinous appropriations. He was elected on the principle of economy and reform; and if the representatives of the people refuse to him a proper support, it is impossible that the object for which he was elected can be obtained. In the discharge of his duty as the servant of a free and independent people, and in obedience to what he believes to be their will, he has laid this subject before them. They will have to pass upon the correctness of his views, and I feel disposed, out of respect to them and the President, to give them an opportunity.
ed in a large and immense national debt. The members of Congress would understand each other-if not corruptly, the effect would be the same; they would vote for each other's projects without regard to the public good. A host of federal officers would be created to superintend the collection of tolls, and the repairing and amending those improvements. The tax on the people would be increased, until their leaders would be as great as they are in any despotic government on earth. Besides, it would end in corruption beyond control. The members of this House cannot now read all the documents printed and laid on the tables. This system will produce a swarm of officers and accounts without end. The representatives of the people can never examine them-the officers become irresponsible and corrupt, and it will produce consolidation of the Government. If the system is to be persevered in, let us adopt one that will not be productive of this evil.
Mr Stanberry said that, in the view he took of the matter, he considered the communication which had been just received, as the voice of the President's ministry, rather than that of the President himself; or, to speak more correctly, the voice of his chief minister. The hand of the
Mr Daniel said he was in favor of internal improvement: but the system, as it has heretofore been carried on and pursued, was better calculated to destroy than to promote it. The House had been admonished, on a former occasion, by the gentleman from New York (Mr Storrs), that the friends of the system were break-great magician' was visible in ing it down by their extravagance every line of the message. There and folly. It was clear, from was nothing candid, nothing open, the message, that if the system nothing honest, in it. As one was pursued as it had been at- reason why the Executive retempted at the present session, jects the bill, he assigns the exthis nation would soon be involv- travagance of this Congress as
having been so great that there will not be money enough in the Treasury to meet the small appropriation contained in the rejected bill. And as an evidence of the correctness of such apprehension, the appendix contains a list of all the bills which have been reported in the Senate and in the House, but not passed. These are relied upon in the argument as if they had passed and become laws. When it is well known to all of us, that most of these bills are only evidence of the opinions of the Committees by whom they were reported; and there is not even a probability that they will ever become laws. Among the bills of this description, contained in the appendix, is the bill reported in the Senate providing for the amount of French spoliations, which, of itself, makes an item of five millions of dollars. There is also included in the appendix the bill for the relief of Susan Decatur, and that for the Beaumarchais claim and the claim of Richard W. Mead. There is added also, the bill for the Colonization Society, proposing to pay twentyfive dollars for each negro in the United States. And to swell the amount, the claim of President Monroe is also added. All these amounts put together, give to the proceedings of this Congress an appearance of extravagance which does not belong to them. On the whole, I consider this document artfully contrived to bring the whole system of internal improvement into disrepute, and as calculated to deceive the people. Such a document can never have issued from the Presi
dent. It is not characterized by that frankness which marks his character. It has every appearance of a low electioneering document, not worthy of the eminent source to which it is attributed.
But, sir, if extravagance has marked the proceedings of this Congress, it is not chargeable on the majority of this House. The appropriations which have been made have been asked for by the Executive officers themselves. And they have asked for more than we have granted. And the most extravagant project of this session, and one which will, I fear, forever disgrace this Congress, I mean the bill for the removal of all the Southern Indians west of the Mississippi, came recommended to us as the peculiar favorite of the Executive.
I can say, with truth, that many members of this House were induced, contrary to their consciences, to vote for the bill in consequence of their not having independence to resist what they supposed to be the wishes of the Executive. They were literally dragooned into its support. I certainly, sir, had many other reasons for my opposition to the bill; but not the least of my reasons was a belief that its passage would strike a death blow to the whole system of internal improvement. It received the support of all the enemies of internal improvement, as their only means of destroying the system; and it is accordingly relied upon in this message, and I will admit that it is the only good reason assigned in it against any further appropriations for the improvement of
the country. And yet we, who are the friends of this administration, but still greater friends to the honor and prosperity of the country, have been threatened with denunciations by certain members of this House; but who have no other claim for the station which they have assumed as our leaders than the single circumstance of their coming from Tennessee, for our opposition to the Indian bill-for our contumacy in opposing what they were pleased to represent to us as the wishes of the Executive. Sir, let them commence their denunciation I fear no bravo, unless he carries the assassin's knife. Against every other species of attack I am prepared to defend myself.
Mr Polk said that, while it had been understood, in conversation through the House that the friends of this measure were disposed, without further debate, to take the vote on reconsideration, on the veto of the President, according to the provisions of the Constitution, he thought he could speak confidently, when he said that those opposed to it had determined to pursue a similar
The debate had, however, been brought on. The violent, vindicThe violent, vindictive and unprecedented character of the remarks which had just fallen from the member from Ohio (Mr Stanberry,) had opened the whole discussion.
Mr Polk said, he took the liberty to say to the member from Óhio that this violent torrent of abuse, poured upon the head of the Chief Magistrate, was gra
tuitous, and wholly unjustifiable, not sustained in a single particular by the truth, and wholly unfounded in fact.
No man in the nation, of any party, who knows the character of the President, believed what the gentleman had charged upon him. He was glad that the member had at length thrown off the cloak, under which he had covertly acted during the present session. He had been elected to his seat here by the friends of the President. He came here professing to give to his administration a fair and an honest support- professing to be enumerated among his political friends. Had he sustained one single measure which the President recommended? Not one-and it was matter of no regret that the member had at length thrown off the mask. He cannot claim this occasion or this bill as a pretext for his desertion from his former professed political attachments. What was there in this occasion to call forth such a tirade of abuse? The President has returned to this House, as it was his constitutional right, and, entertaining the opinion he did, his duty to do, a bill which has passed Congress and been presented to him for his constitutional sanction. He had, in a very temperate, and he added, in a very able manner, assigned the reasons why he had felt himself constrained, from a high sense of public duty, to withhold his signature and sanction from it. We were called upon by an imperative provision of the Constitution to reconsider the vote by which a ma
jority of this House had agreed to pass the bill? The bill and the message of the President were the fair subjects of deliberation and discussion for this House.
The message of the President, he undertook to stake, was emphatically his own; and the views presented for, the rejection of this bill were the result of the honest conviction of his own deliberate reflection. Was it an electioneering measure? No man who knows his character will believe it. Such considerations are only suited to the bent of such grovelling minds as are themselves capable of making the charge. No, sir, on the contrary on the brink of a great crisis at a period of unusual political excitement, to save his country from what he conscientiously believed to be a dangerour infraction of the Constitution ― to avert the evils which threatened, in its consequences, the long continuance of the Confederacy, upon its original principles - he had, with a patriotism never surpassed, boldly and firmly staked himself, his present and his future popularity and fame, against what seemed to be the current of public opinion. Had he signed this bill, the road on which he would have travelled would have been a broad pavement, and his continued elevation certain, beyond a possibility of doubt. As it was, he had planted himself upon the ramparts of the Constitution, and had taken the high responsibility upon himself to check the downward march, in which the system of
which this bill is part, was fast hastening us. It required just such a man, in such times, to restore the Constitution to its original reading. He had never failed to assume responsibility when he should assume it; and in no instance, in his public life, had he displayed in a more eminent degree, that moral courage and firmness of character, which was peculiarly characteristic of him, than in this. By this single act, he verily believed, he had done more than any man in this country, for the last thirty years, to preserve the Constitution and to perpetuate the liberties we enjoy. The Constitution was, he hoped, to be again considered and practised upon, as it, in fact, was one of limited powers, and the States permitted to enjoy all the powers which they originally intended to reserve to themselves in that compact of union. The pernicious consequences, the evil tendencies, to say nothing of the corrupting influence of the exercise of a pow er over internal improvements by the Federal Government, were not fully developed until within a very few years last past. Mr Madison, on the last day of his term of office, put his veto on the bonus bill. In the following year Mr Monroe rejected a bill assuming jurisdiction and fixing tolls on the Cumberland road. The subject of the power was discussed at great length, and with great ability in the next Congress. The House of Representatives, by a small majority, at that time, affirmed the power to appropriate money for objects of national improvements, but denied, and by