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and hence it is but fair to contend that the people have only declared against a bank on the conditition that the state banks would fulfil their expectations; and, therefore, it would scem to be still an open question, or the decision is in favor of a national bank. If any thing has been decided, it was the question between the administration and the late bank, on the ground of imputed misconduct on their part, and not the general question of a national bank. He was not sufficiently acquainted with the facts to decide on the merits or demerits of the late bank; he had thought it indiscreet in them to issue publications concerning the controversy with the Government, because it did them no service, and subjected them to the imputation of interfering in the elections and politics of the country. For this course there may have been some excuse on the score of self-defence. I certainly never heard of any charge of the kind against the bank before its contest with the administration ; and the branches in Kentucky, I believe, have acted fairly and usefully, and to the satisfaction of all parties. I neither, Mr. Chairman, understand the facts involved in the controversy, nor am I disposed to engage in the discussion of them. I am for a good bank, under proper regulations, with a competent capital; reserving to the States one-fourth or one-third of the stock, to be divided among them according to an equitable ratio to be paid out of the proceeds of the public lands; foreigners to be excluded from any direction of the bank; the interest to be moderate, and a majority of the stock to be subscribed by citizens of the United States, with a reservation of full power to Congress to guard against abuses, and insure to the people a sound, stable, and uniform currency, and a fair and faithful administration of its affairs. Mr. Chairman, I have no expectation of a national bank until demanded by the voice of the nation; nor is it desirable that Congress should act in advance of public opinion. I am ready to act, at any time, when a majority shall feel satisfied that their constituents are for it. I shall not be deterred from pressing this subject on the consideration of this House or the Executive by any intimation or menace he may give of a veto, and I deny his right in this way to dictate to or influence the delibcrations of the legislative body. In doing so he departs from the sphere of action assigned to him by the constitution of his country. From what part or clause of that instrument does he derive the right to tell the Legislature that he will not co-operate in measures deemed by them necessary for the good of the people : The constitution makes it the duty of the President, from time to time, to give to the Congress information of the state of the Union, and recommend to their considera. tion such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; but on what part or clause he claims the right to tell the Congress of those things they ought not, or shall not do, I am yet to learn. The veto power was vested in the President to protect him against encroachments of the Legislature. It is, to the President, a conservative power, and may, on extraordinary occasions, be interposed to stay, for a time, rash and intemperate measures proceeding from high party or popular excitement, and pregnant with very disastrous consequences to the nation; and in such a possible case, not likely often to occur, the President may interpose to throw back the subject on the consideration of the people; but when it goes through the crucible of investigation, and is presented as their settled and deliberate will in relation to matters of concern to the whole nation, I cas, lot imagine a case where the President could rightfully use his veto to defeat the popular will; and the case is not materially different in regard to constitutional questions. After the nation has long considered and deliberately decided a constitutional question, the President must co-operate with the legislative department, not as he understands it, but as understood by the intelligence of the -eat community, for whose benefit it was made. The pop
ular will, clearly and deliberately expressed, must control the course of this free Government, and especially on subjects of doubtful policy, and doubtful constitutional power. To illustrate and support my views of this veto power, Mr. P. said he would call the attention of the committee to the last paragraph of Mr. Jefferson's letter to General Washington, on the bank question, in the year 1791. Mr. Jefferson, after expressing his opinions against the bank, well concludes by telling President Washington that, unless his mind, on a view of every thing, was tolerably clear that it was unconstitutional ; if the pro and con hung so equal as to balance his judgment, a just respect for the wisdom of the Legislature would decide the balance in favor of their opinion. It is chiefly for cases where they are clearly misled by error, ambition, or interest, that the Constitution has placed a check in the negative of the President. This opinion was given to the President at the first session the bank question was agitated in Congress, and before it had been discussed or decided on by the people. How much stronger is the case now, aster we have made two successful experiments of twenty years each, after the constitutional power has been three times asserted by large majorities of both Houses of Congress, confirmed by all the other departments of Government, and supported by the opinions of a host of the most enlightened statesmen and patriots of this country Let it be remembered, that the charter of a national bank does not invade the Executive or Judiciary, and can only trench, if unconstitutional, upon the rights reserved to the States and the people, and is a measure which concerns the interest of the people at large. If the people and the States, from a conviction of the necessity and utility of such an institution, should call on Congress to establish a bank, on what ground could the President rightfully interfere! Should this measure pass both Houses of Congress in conformity to the public will, I cannot believe it possible that he would venture a veto; but should he, in defiance of the public will, do an act so subversive of the great principle of self-government, for which our ancestors bled, I trust that another Patrick Henry will rise on this floor, and remind those clothed in a little brief authority here, that Caesar had his Brutus, Charles his Cromwell, and that they had better profit by their fate. Sir, this menace of a veto has no precedent in our history, except an opinion expressed in a message of Mr. Monroe about the appropriation of money for roads, for which he was censured by a friend on this floor. The British monarch would not dare to threaten a Parliament with a veto on a measure demanded by the voice and interest of the nation. The veto power, placed as a shield to protect the Executive and other departments against the invasions of the Legislature, and to stay, for a moment, rash and intemperate action, was never designed by our constitution to defeat the deliberate will of the nation in relation to measures of general interest. I will not, Mr. Chairman, say any more, on this occasion, of the veto power or its exercise, but will proceed to notice, very briefly, the amendment offered by a gentleman from Virginia [Mr. GARLAND] to the bill under consideration, for which, I repeat, I will vote, as the least of evils, and continue this State bank agency, whether the depos. ites are general or special, until the wisdom and experience of the nation shall provide a better. And here he would take leave to remark, that he felt proud that the Old Dominion was the land of his birth, when he saw her representatives stand forth, with manly firmness, regardless of party and the frowns of power, and resist measures of such dangerous tendency ; and he begged leave to assure them that he was not hostile to State banks; on the contrary, he believed it was wise for every State to have banks of solid capital, and under prudent management. He was not disposed, (continued Mr. P.) to impair the strength of the State
Governments, because he held them to be essential pillars of the temple of American liberty. While he was not prepared to go the whole length of nullification, his observation of the course and tendency of this Government for a long period had convinced him that the strength of the State Governments must be maintained, and that they were the great bulwarks around which the people must occasionally rally to arrest the anti-republican tendencies to which the central power is liable in the hands of wickedness or folly. At the same time that I express this view, with unfeigned sincerity, I must be permitted to say, that the national Government must be allowed the full and fair exercise of all the powers assigned to it, according to a fair interpretation of the constitution, to enable it to accomplish the objects for which it was intended. The powers were granted to Congress to regulate commerce, external and internal, and to coin money and regulate the value thereof, in exclusion of State power; and it would be a violation of the spirit and intent of the constitution to withhold from Congress any of the means fairly necessary and proper, and clearly adapted to carry into effect the objects of those grants of power to which I have referred. An unreasonable distrust or jealousy ought not to be indulged of this Government more than of other Governments created by the people, from whom both State and National Governments had emanated. Our national compact, whether of the people in the aggregate, or by the States in their sovereign corporate capacities, ought to receive, especially in regard to powers and subjects to which the States are not competent, a fair and rational interpretation, to accomplish the object of the parties to it, instead of an over-strict, technical, or metaphysical one.
His conservative friends, he said, must pardon him, while he admired their manly independence, to say, with great deference to their intelligence, that, according to his reflections on the subject of commerce and money, they are only half right. We agree, if I understand them, that an exclusive metallic medium will not answer over this extensive country; and that our social and commercial intercourse and business requires a paper representative of gold and silver, otherwise called bank money; for bank notes of undoubted credit, and convertible everywhere into specie, are money, for all the purposes of human society. If a paper inedium is necessary—if one is to be coined or manufactured for this people, I put the question to the candor and intelligence of those gentlemen and all other gentlemen on this floor, whether, according to the divisions of power established between the State and national Gov. ernments, that medium ought not to emanate from the Federal instead of State authority ? And if gentlemen could only free themselves from their commitments, and disregard of what is termed consistency here, they must respond in the affirmative.
Commerce and currency are certainly placed by the constitution within the sphere of national legislation, and the paper medium or bank money representative ought to be issued by a national bank of universal credit and confi. deuce, and on a foundation as firm as the Government itself.
It is essential that any paper substitute for specie, to make a currency over the whole nation, and convertible into specie everywhere, must have a national character; and I now put it to gentlemen, to answer whether it is possible to make the notes of the banks of twenty-six 8tates current everywhere, and constitute a uniform and stable currency for this people Is it in the power of this Government to nationalize the notes of all these banks, however solvent they may be, so as to give them a par value everywhere ! And if they cannot, the harvest of the brokers must continue, and the losses to the holders of notes must fall chiefly on the laboring, farming, and planting classes of the community.
It is impossible for the great body of the people to know the condition or credit of all the local banks scattered over this vast country; hence the necessity of a medium with the national stamp on it. The people may be acquainted with the condition, and have confidence in the banks of the State or neighborhood in which they live, but few can know much of distant institutions.
In the most prosperous season of trade and business, when there existed little distrust of banks, it was difficult to travel in different States with local notes, and they were generally under par at a distance from the banks of issue, and had to be sold to the brokers. Mr. P. said he could not believe that this Government ought to be dependent on the agency of banks not responsible to them, but under the control of the States, and he had other strong objections to this connexion; but he preferred them to the plan under consideration. In addition to the objections he had urged against this bill, he would observe that these sub-treasuries were to be dispersed over the country, and to be inspected by the agents of the Secretary of the Treasury, and their reports, through him, would be all the information which it would be practicable for Congress to obtain. A large portion of the public money might be purloined from these sub-treasuries, which it would be impossible for Congress to detect, without sending committees to all these distant places to examine things and count the money, and then, without an inspection of the whole, the most vigilant scrutiny could be eluded. It cannot be expected (said he) that the members of this House can absent themselves from their duties here so long, and encounter the labors such an examination would require.
Mr. Chairman, we have now twenty-six States, with unlimited power to make banks beyond the direct control of Congress, and the banking system has taken such a deep root in our country that it is the extreme of folly to think of exterminating it; and if one State banks, another will, and this system must remain a permanent part of our domestic poiicy. These banks furnish, and will continue to furnish, local currencies for the people; and the inquiry is, whether this Government ought to guard them against the evils of the system, and what are the best and most practicable ineans of doing so 1 Every administration, commencing with that of Washington, down to the present, has considered it the sacred duty of this Government to use the best means in their power to cure disorders in the currency, and insure to the people a stable and uniform measure of value for commerce and contracts of every kind. Can it be expected, however we may get along in good times, that, in a commercial or pecuniary convulsion or war, these numerous local banks can have general confidence in each other, or can be united and act with that concert which is necessary to sustain credit and confidence and a good uniform currency during the shocks incident to periods of difficulty and danger ? Alarm and distrust overspread the country; moneyed men and holders of notes run on the banks, and force them to close their doors; business of every kind is suspended ; thousands are thrown out of employment, and the public tranquillity endangered. A wise Government ought not to content themselves with the means of managing the vessel of state in pleasant seasons, and when temperate breezes only are to be met with, but should be prepared to keep her steady and moving in the great current of the public interest in the most tempestuous seasons. Throughout our past political history, the strong ground taken against a national bank has been, that State banks would answer; for, at all times, it has been admitted that bank agency was a necessary and important auxiliary to the fiscal and commercial operations of the country. Twice has that agency failed; twice, for a period of twenty years each, has the agency of a national bank succeeded to the full extent of public expectation; and yet will those charged with the control of public affairs obstinately adhere to the
ground they have assumed. If gentlemen believe their constituents are opposed to a bank, I will not ask them to oppose their will ; I will, however, I must, exhort them as friends, fellow-citizens, and patriots, when they return among the people, to tell them with frankness that there is no other eflectual and permanent cure for the disorders of the State but a national bank. Gentlemen must be sensible that, in the exigencies of war and the revulsions of trade, a national bank, with a competent capital, with well established credit and confidence, at home and abroad, would be able, with the aid of the Government, to do more to sustain public and private credit and confidence, keep the monetary system sound and regular, and avert the evils incident to the perils of war and shocks in trade, than a thousand local insulated institutions, with no common head, jealous and afraid of each other, which, in a moment of panic, would each revolve on its own axis, and take care of itself. What occurred twenty years ago, will occur again; when another bank shall be established, the small fictitious banks will be wound up; others of sound capital will dissolve and subscribe their funds to a new bank, and those of good and large capitals, freed from the competition of swindling institutions, will be able to do a fair business in harmony with a national institution. A new bank, if established, will be required to locate branches, one, at least, in every State, which will be particularly advantageous to the Western and Southwestern States. The capital and wealth of the South and West consists chiefly of land, live stock, and slaves; and the people there are more disposed to vest the fruits of their industry in such property than in bank stock, yielding a moderate profit of five, six, or seven per cent. The interest of money in the West is high ; in some of the States the legal interest is ten per cent., and the people of those States have little motive to put their capital in banks, who must lend at five or six per cent. The property of the commercial States consists, to a great extent, of money derived from the profits of trade, and they are willing to vest their capital in good stock, yielding a moderate profit; and they would prefer stock in a national bank, because more valuable, and under the protection of the constitution and Government of the United States. Their capital, through the bank, would be diffused over the nation, according to the demands of trade and business, and would aid and encourage the trade, enterprise, and industry of the West, and especially of the new States of the far West. It would facilitate their exchanges and commerce, and every branch of their industry. The traders from the interior States of the West to the South and West would be able to do their business in a currency which would pass everywhere, and remit their funds from place to place without hazard or loss. Sir, this bank, with its branches diffused over our extended country, part of the stock belonging to the States, would be a bond of union. Every man using a note of a national bank, would, in feeling at least, be in some degree identified with the National Government. The power and influence of such an institution is an objection urged by some, to which (Mr. P. said) he would answer that he believed that the State institutions exercised forty times as much influence and power over the political affairs of the country as had ever been used by both Banks of the United States. Nor can (continued he) any bank exercise one-hundredth part of the power and influence which belongs to the Post Office Department alone. The same objection of power was urged against a navy, at an early period of this Government; it was said that the navy would be an instrument of power in the hands of the Government, but time and experience had overruled all objections to this strong arm of our national defence. The navy is not only a weapon of defence and protection to our rights on the ocean, but a powerful bond of union. Our ships of war do not belong
to any State; they are the common property of the nation; and every victory or defeat vibrates through every fibre of the body politic. The strong ground of objection, and the one chiefly relied on at all times, has been that the constitution does not authorize the creation of a bank, while its utility and convenience have been generally admitted. I shall not enter at large into a discussion of this objection, nor have I the vanity to suppose that I could shed any new light on a question on which the intellectual powers of a Hamilton, a Gallatin, a Marshall, a Pinckney, a Crawford, a McDuffie, and a host of others, the most distinguished statesmen of our republic, have been exhausted, supported by the cool and deliberate opinion of the Father of his country, sanctioned three several times by large majorities of both Houses of Congress, and, at a late period, after a long trial of its utility and necessity, confirmed by the opinions of a Madison and Monroe, two of the elders of the Republican church. One fact, often mentioned in the public prints, and much relied on here, I must be permitted to notice; and that is, that the convention rejected a proposition to grant charters of incorporation. I have not examined the proceedings of that body; but, if the fact be as stated, it proves nothing, because that proposition was for a general power to grant charters of incorporation. That was, I think, very properly refused—nor is such a power contended for by the friends of the bank. It will be a sufficient set-off to that fact to state another, and that is, that in the same convention a proposition was made to grant Congress a power to emit bills of credit, and that it was rejected. Now, sir, it is well known that, during the late war, Congress did issue bills of credit; and the bill passed at the present session, to issue Treasury notes, approaches very nearly, if not entirely, to bills of credit. If it be fairly necessary and proper to grant a charter to carry into effect any of the great powers grantedif such a measure is a necessary auxiliary to effectuate other powers, and it has a fair relation to them, then the bank is constitutional; and, if money is not to be had to meet the demands of Government by taxes or loans, if it is necessary to resort to an issue of notes, then it may be constitutional. I voted with much hesitation for this Treasury note bill, because it authorized a larger sum than appeared necessary, and it seemed to me more congenial with the spirit of the constitution to borrow money directly than to do it indirectly ; but as the amendment to borrow directly sailed, and the interest on the notes gave it the appearance of a loan, I voted for it to relieve the Treasury, and give some relief to the country. I entered this House, with no disposition to find fault or embarrass the administration. I voted for indulging the inerchants, and will give time to the banks to enable them to indulge the people, and would have voted for the postponement of the fourth instalment provided the House had adopted the amendment offered, making it the duty of the Secretary of the Treasury to pay the money at the period to which payment is postponed ; but, sir, I felt constrained, by a regard for principle and the public good, to exert my feeble powers against the passage of this sub-Treasury bill. Mr. Chairman, I had more to say to this committee, on the several subjects embraced in this debate, but I feel too much exhausted to proceed, and will therefore conclude with urging on the consideration of the representatives of the people the propriety of postponing a final decision on a measure of so much importance, and involving principles of such great magnitude, until public opinion can be pronounced upon it. If the measure be doubtful in principle or policy, we ought to avoid the appearance of precipitancy; respect for our constituents, who have had no opportunity of making known their sentiments, and who are to be bound by this measure, require that the final action on this bill should be suspended until the next session. Let us
think a little more ourselves, and afford our constituents an opportunity of thinking and speaking also. Before Mr. Pope had concluded his remarks, as given entire in preceding pages, he was arrested by the hour, and the House took its usual recess till 4 o'clock.
Ev ENING SEssiox.
The Committee of the Whole met at four o’clock, and had to wait long for a quorum. Mr. Pope had the floor, but yielded it for a short time to Mr. CUSHMAN, who observed that, as the gentleman from Kentucky had made a personal allusion to him, he would, with that gentleman's leave, say a word or two by way of explanation. It is true, as that gentleman says, that while the report of the Committee of Ways and Means was under discussion, and after it had been debated during the morning hour for several days, he moved the previous question. It is true, also, that the honorable gentleman from Kentucky asked him to withdraw the motion, that he might make a few remarks upon that subject, and he now complains that he was then prevented from so doing by the above-mentioned motion. Mr. C. said there were two reasons why he did not comply with that request. The first was, that there was around him a general desire that it should not be granted: and if he had withdrawn it, the same motion would have been renewed by some other gentleman. Secondly, that the subject of a United States bank had, for the last five or six years, been the common theme of discussion in every city, town, village, and hamlet in the country. It is true, he said, that several gentlemen, during this debate, had declared that the subject of a bank has not been before the people for their discussion, but it was the bank. Mr. C. said if gentlemen would only go back to the reelection of the late venerable President of the United States, they would find that that Presidential canvass was put upon the question of bank or no bank. A bank, the bank, or any bank, were all denounced by the people at that time, as appears by the result of that election. It was the pivot upon which that election turned. But if the subject of establishing a bank was not before the people for consideration at that time, the whole subject was before them during the election of the present Chief Magistrate of the United States. Mr. Van Buren, before the late Presidential election, in pursuance of a call which was made upon him for that purpose, declared, in the most unequivocal manner, that he could not sanction an institution of that character; and this was the pivot, also, upon which that distinguished individual was elevated to the Presidency. Twice, therefore, have the people declared that a United States bank ought not to be established. Mr. C. observed that, from the course which he had thought proper to pursue, some gentlemen may have supposed that he was disposed to check, unnecessarily, the freedom of debate. But he would assure gentlemen that they mistook his character altogether. He would go with him who would go farthest to protect the great vital principles of civil and religious liberty, the freedom of speech, the liberty of the press, and the right of petition. These sacred rights he never would yield but with the last breath of life. But there is a very wide difference between the rightful exercise of these invaluable privileges, and a wilful abuse of them. To correct this evil, this abuse, the rule regulating a call for the previous question was adopted as a part of the by-laws of this House; a rule which has existed ever since the formation of the General Government. A similar rule has been adopted by several State Legislatures to correct the abuses which are the subject of so much complaint in this House. In fact, nothing of any importance could be accomplished in this House without such a law.
On the east side of the Atlantic, in the Spanish Cortes, the question asked is, “Has not this subject been sufficiently debated " If this question is responded to by a majority of that body, an end is put to the discussion, and a vote taken on the main question. This is the operation of the rule for the previous question in this House : the design of the motion is to ask the House if the subject under consideration has not been sufficiently debated, and cannot be enforced without a majority of the members present. As the gentleman from Kentucky states that he merely alluded to him as stating a fact, and not for the purpose of impugning the purity of his motives, Mr. C. observed that he would close his remarks by stating, that, so long as his fellow-citizens of New Hampshire should provide him a seat upon this floor, he would faithfully and independently execute his political trust; and should any gentleman, here or elsewhere, dare to question the purity of his motives, he would pronounce him a base caluminator. Mr. C. was here interrupted by Mr. W.M. COST JOHNSON, who said that he rose to a point of order. He said that he rose to arrest the current of the honorable gentleman's remarks with great reluctance; but he considered them so out of place at this moment, that he was constrained to protest against their further continuance. We are now, Mr. Chairman, (said Mr. J.,) within a few days of an adjournment, and have to decide upon an important bill; and, in the midst of this discussion, the honorable gentleman from New Hampshire [Mr. CushMAN] thinks fit to consume the time of the House by discussing the merits of the previous question, which he called some four or five days ago. Then was the time for explanations, if the gentleman thought any necessary. But his object was then to arrest explanations and discussion upon the merits of a resolution which the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means thought fit to introduce, but was afraid to have discussed. And now the honorable member from the Granite State feels a strong propensity to enlarge upon it. Yes, sir, with great and peculiar emphasis, he now discusses a bank and the bank, and called the previous question upon it, after but one member had spoken upon the subject. Why did not that gentleman use that occasion (said Mr. J.) to discuss a bank and the bank He has edified the committee with his learning and research upon the history of the previous question; and after making a great display of his exalted patriotism in defending the freedom of debate—and we must, in giving him the credit which he claims for the patriotism of his notions, listen to his pretensions, and not judge him by his acts—he refers us to the high authority which he has culled from the east side of the Atlantic. He has talked about Turkey, and has shown that he has preeedent for the gag-law in the example of the Spanish Cortes. The gentleman is as unfortunate in his authority as he is in the time of his using it. The gentleman can find authority in the Spanish history for the inquisition; and from his readings of Spanish history, and adopting their principles for his standard of action in this hall, we may account very rationally why he has so often called the inquisitorial and detested previous question—the instrument of petty tyranny all over the world. And, to use the gentleman's own figure, he is the “pivot” around which that question has so often wheeled in this hall. But I urge the distinguished gentleman to forbear in this discussion, for he has already reaped honors enough in that barren field, for his head now blooms and blossoms with the glories of the previous question. [Here Mr. Cush MAN rose, and said that his object was not to consume the time of the House, but he had risen to explain, by the courtesy of the member from Kentucky, [Mr. Porz,] who was entitled to tho floor.] Mr.J. said that he utterly denied the right of the mem
ber from Kentucky, or of any other member, to allow the gentlemen from New Hampshire to consume the time of the House, at this stage of our proceedings, in discussing the merits of the previous question, which the gentleman from New Hampshire called some weeks ago. I have tried (said Mr. J.) several times to gain the floor, in order to speak upon the bill now under debate, and have sailed. I wish to give my views upon it; but, knowing the propensity of the honorable member whom I have interrupted to call the previous question, I have no guaranty that I might not be precluded from speaking at all. And if the gentleman, whom I regard as a living personification of the previous question, will not desist from this discussion, I will be constrained to use his own remedy upon himself, and will call his own previous question upon him. I hope, in concluding, that the gentleman from Kentucky will be permitted to resume the floor. Mr. POPE then resumed the course of his remarks, which he continued till long after lights had been brought into the hall, when, being exhausted, he sank into his seat without having closed his speech. A motion was now made for the committee to rise; but Mr. W. COST JOHNSON, having conferred with Mr. Pork, stated that the gentleman had no objection to Mr. J.'s taking the floor at this time, in the confidence that the House, in the morning, would permit him to conclude his remarks. Such seeming to be the general understanding, Mr. JOHNSON rose and addressed the committee as follows: Mr. Chairman : I return to the honorable member from Kentucky [Gov. Popk] my thanks for yielding the floor to me before he has completed his remarks. Aster having spoken for four hours, his physical energies have yielded before the rich abundance of his mind is exhausted on this interesting question. I feel (said Mr. J.) how perilous my situation is in attempting to follow the learned and distinguished member who has just taken his seat. At this late hour, too, when the committee have been so long in session, I am strongly apprehensive that I may not compensate them for any portion of their attention. I must therefore throw myself upon their magnanimity. But before I enter upon the subject under discussion, I feel it a duty which I owe to myself and to others, to give a passing notice to an observation which fell from the honorable member who last addressed the committee. The honorable member renuarked, in the course of his observations, in substance, that the friends of the administration, or some of them, had said that the opposition had a few years ago made charges against the Post Osfice Department, and, among others, his friend, the late Postmaster General; and that the administration sacrificed some of the members of that Department (at least the chief clerk) to the avenging deity of the relentless opposition. I do not for one moment suppose (said Mr. J.) that the honorable gentleman purposed any personal application of his remarks to any particular member of the opposition, but spoke of the opposition as a party. But having been a member of the twenty-third Congress, when the administration of the Post Office Department was made a subject of special examination, and the report upon that examination was submitted to this House, I felt it my duty to take an humble part in a debate in this hall in relation to the abuses committed in that Department. And my name having been thrown before the public in connexion with that discussion, and with a collision with the late Postmaster General and his son, I feel warranted in now alluding to it, from what has been said, and in giving an explanation which circumstances at the time rendered it impossible for me to do. When a bill was under discussion in this House giving, as I thought, increased patronage to that Department, I took occasion to oppose its passage, and to animadvert upon
the corruptions which were proved to exist in it. A spirit of intimidation then still lingered in this hall, and clearly manifested itself, l thought, on the night of that discussion; for, during that session, a member had been waylaid on the street and attacked for words spoken in debate; and, but shortly before, other members had been beset and assaulted. I saw, or thought I saw, that there were members willing to place themselves between the officers of Government and the members of this House who wished to scrutinize their official conduct. I was soon left alone on one side in that exciting discussion, and, fancying I saw its result in advance, took the distinct ground, when daggers were spoken but none used, that I was willing and ready to hold myself responsible to any member of this House, or to any officer of Government, who might imagine himself aggrieved by my strictures. That was the position I assumed-perhaps rashly—but still it was the position. The next morning, in this Capitol, and before I entered this hall, I received a laconic note from the Postmaster General, by a gentleman whom I had never seen before, but whose bearing convinced me that he was a gentleman. There was no threat written in it, but, from its peculiar brevity, I regarded it as a threat; so did two honorable gentlemen of this House to whom I submitted it. I felt it to be my duty to give it a very short answer. Soon after, I received a challenge from the son of the Postmaster General—a gentleman whom I have never seen in my life. I accepted it. By the advice, I apprehend, of others, it was withdrawn. Rumor reached my ear that I was to receive some two or three more, and was to be caned by I know not how many. Under such circumstances, I would neither explain nor authorize any friend to explain in my name, as an honorable friend in this hall will well remember. The system of interrogatories I dislike at best; but, according to my sense of propriety, I can never bring myself to answer them when they are blended with even the shadow of a threat. But now that the late Posmaster General is no more, and the restraining circumstances of the affair have passed away, I embrace the opportunity which the remarks of the honorable member have afforded me, to say, in my place, that I never designed to charge the Postmaster General with peculation, though I was unwilling to except him from the charge (of which I had proof enough to convince my judgment) that it did exist at that time in the Departinent. I deem it due to mysels, due to those whom he has lest behind him, his relations and friends—and the honorable member as one of those friends—to say, that I had no proof that he was corrupt, nor do I believe that he was a corrupt man in the moral or legal sense of the term. The most that I meant to say was, that when corruption was proved to exist in a department, the censure should full with the heaviest force upon the head of that department, if he did not suspend the guilty subordinate. But I dismiss this subject, now and finally, and will attempt to approach that immediately under debate. Mr. Chairman, (said Mr. J.,) when Sir Walter Scott was asked why it was that he had not written the life of the Emperor Napoleon in one instead of three volumes, he answered, because he had not time ! And if I should trespass upon the kind indulgence of the committee a little longer than it may think judicious, I beg the committee to receive in advance, as my apology, that I have not had time to investigate, in all its bearings, the important subject before us, and to arrange my reflections in perspicuous brevity, which is the best proof I know of a familiar knowledge of a subject. Day and night have we been occupied in this hall, for weeks past, without hardly taking respite for sleep, in investigating the important bills which have been crowded upon our attention; with not even time to eat with comfort, and with scarcely a spare hour to read the budgets