網頁圖片
PDF
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

poured into the treasury of this Government. Can New York, consistent with her honor or her interests, submit to such degradation ? Is Pennsylvania, with her numerous canals, prepared to surrender all to this Government I trust not. Sir, where is the remedy ? I answer here, in this hall. We must halt in our course—we must confine this Government within its primeval legitimate bounds— we must restore it to the powers that were exercised under it in the days of Jefferson's administration. It is contended that the power to construct roads and canals is given by the clause in the constitution author. izing. Congress to establish post offices and post roads. Great pains have been taken to give us the definition of the word establish. Dictionaries have been consulted— Walker, Ainsworth, and others. It is defined to mean “to erect, to make,” &c. We have heard labored arguments to show us, because the meaning of the word establish is defined to be “to make,” that Congress has the power to make post roads. Sir, I will not say, that these words may not be tortured into such construction, nor offer any argument on the constitutionality of the doctrine. Yet I must be permitted to doubt that any such power, under these words, was intended by the framers of the constitution to be given to Congress." The plan and obvious meaning of that clause is that which is yearly exercised by Congress—the establishment of post routes on roads erected and made by the people, and on which, for public eonvenience, it is thought necessary to transport the mail. In the remarks I have made, I have endeavored to show to the committee the inexpediency of Congress exercising all the powers which, . construction or implication, are claimed as belonging to this Government; and particularly as such exercise affects the rights and interests of the States. As a further illustration of my views, I will suppose my colleague, who resides at Buffalo, to offer to this House the following resolution: “Resolved, That the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads be instructed to inquire into the expediency of establishing a post route from Buffalo to Albany, by the way of the Erie canal.” It is referred to the committee, at the head of which is the honorable gentleman from Kentucky. Congress having the right to establish post offices and post roads, and waters navigable or made navigable, being considered highways, the reasoning follows the premises, that Congress has the power to establish a mail route upon the Erie canal. It has been decided that the Hudson river is an arm of the sea, and jurisdiction has been so far extended over the waters of New York, as to establish ports of entry on the western lakes, the Erie canal connecting the tide waters of the Hudson with the waters of Lake Erie; it, therefore, becomes necessary that commerce should be carried on between the States. . A law is passed, in obedience to the resolution; and a boat is started at Albany, on the tide waters, with the “United States' mail,” in capitals, upon her stern. She approaches the first lock, and is hailed “what boat is that?” “The Congress of the United States.” “Who is her commander f" “General Welfare.” “What is the object of her voyage " "Regulating commerce among the several States and with the Indian tribes, transporting the United States' mail, and conveying troops to the northern lakes.” The collector would say, this canal is the property of the State of New York; it was made by the exertions of her own citizens without any foreign aid, and you cannot pass without the payment of toll. To which “General Welfare” would reply that Congress has power to regulate commerce and establish post offices and post roads; a post route has been established on this canal, and you will not presume to interrupt the United States' mail. The people of New York look to the law for protection and decision of all disputed claims. On the return of “General Welfare,” he is arrested in our State courts. I will not trouble the comVoI. VI.-92, *

mittee with a long detail; the State courts decide in favor of the toll gatherer; it is carried up to the Supreme Court of the United States. I need not give you the decision. When did State decisions or State o succeed in opposition to the laws of Congress, or the constructive powers of this Government? Let Kentucky, Ohio, New York, and other States answer.

I am op. to the exercise by Congress of this disputed right on another ground: it is unequal and unjust in its operation. During the last year, disregarding fractions, there was received into your treasury twenty-four millions of dollars; for all the ordinary purposes of Government, twelve millions are sufficient; and, with proper economy, that sum need not be expended. You have then a surplus fund of twelve millions beyond the amount required for the expenses of Government, to be serambled for in this hall, and expended, according to present doctrines, in internal improvement. You have two hundred and thirteen members from the States, and three delegates from territories; divide this amount into two hundred and thirteen distriots, and you will give annually to each congressional district fifty-six thousand dollars. By this division, New York, with her thirty-four members, would be entitled annually to two millions of dollars. Pennsylvania, with her twenty-four members, to one million four hundred and forty-four thousand. Virginia, with her twenty-two members, to one million two hundred and thirty-two thousand. Will any course of legislation here give to these States a fair proportion of the surplus funds by way of internal improvement? Certainly not. This miserable pittance to New York of a road from Buffalo to the State line of Pennsylvania, is but a sorry return for the four millions she pays annually into your treasury. As it is the first, so for many years it will be the last boon that will be of

fered for her two millions annual surplus in your treasury.

Give to New York, to be applied by her legislature, one-half of her just proportion of this surplus fund. Let it be placed in the treasury of her own State, and in ten

ears she will extend the blessings of her own system of improvement to every village and hamlet in her State, and gladden the hearts of her people; it will be expended in useful works, in national objects, and promote the general welfare of the people."

I come now to the question of the utility of this gigantic project of a grand land communication from Buffalo to New Orleans, and must say that, to my mind, it is the most extravagant and visionary one that ever was presented to the deliberate judgment of a representative assembly. It is to be made through the interior of the country, fifteen hundred miles in length, and from its commencement at Buffalo, the first seaboard, the first commercial place it touches is the city of Washington, a distance of some four hundred; miles. Can any man believe that the trade from Buffalo, or any part of New York, will be diverted from the city of New York by this road Î or will Pennsylvania or Maryland prefer Washington for a market to their own Philadelphia and Baltimore? Look to the improvements of New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, their railroads and canals, and the most visionary must be satisfied that this contemplated road cannot be used for commercial purposes. It is said, by its friends, that it will be useful in time of war to march troops to the frontiers. I trust we shall not need it for that N.P. for many years to come; and if we should, New York desires troops from Washington to defend her frontier. No, sir, there is no beneficial purpose for which this road can be used; it will be a lasting monument of a nation's folly, and receive the worst curse which an Irishman can bestow upon his enemy—the grass will grow, upon its surface: Again. What is to become of the road after it is made? Do you intend to place toll gates upon it?, That power has not yet been assumed upon your Cumberland road. But suppose you should assume jurisdiction over State soil,

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

and scatter your toll gatherers over the States; what will you receive Not one per cent. You cannot keep it in repair by tolls. What next The Government must apropriate, annually, one million of dollars to repair it. By the bill fifteen hundred dollars per mile are appropriated; but no friend of it will pretend |. is all that will be asked. Let the faith of the nation be pledged for its construction, and you will be required, annually, to appropriate money for its completion, until it will cost as many thousands as hundreds are now asked. Will the States, through which it passes, take it off your hands, and keep it in repair No. The States know it will not yield revenue sufficient to do so. They will tell you it is your own sickly bantling, and your faith is pledged to support it. It has been said out of this hall, that this is a part of the “American system;" and I have been urged, as a friend to that system, to support this bill. It is called the pioneer bill, in the train of which numerous others are to follow. If by the “American system” is meant a system of laws which shall be for the i. of the American people, and, as nearly as may be, operate equally and justly, then am I its friend and o but if by the system is meant that I am bound to support every wild and visionary road project that the imaginations of gentlemen here or elsewhere may present to the consideration of Congress, I must be permitted to dissent, and enter my protest. As a member of the Committee on Manufactures, I cordially agree to the resolution submitted to the House, “that it was inexpedient at this time to revise the tariff law of 1828.” I then believed, and now believe, that justice to the manufacturers and sound policy required the suppression of further legislation at this time. There are, however, articles which have become necessaries of life from their common use, such as tea, coffee, silk, &c., which are not grown or manufactured in this country, or, if so, to a yery limited extent, and not interfering with the domestic industry of the nation. By reducing the duties on the articles I have mentioned, you will relieve the people from several millions of indirect taxation, and retain in your treasury more than sufficient to meet the current expenses of the Government. There are two situations in which Governments, like individuals, are frequently unjust: in adversity, with a heavy debt hanging over them, and in prosperity, suddenly and unexpectedly acquired; in the one case, pressed to discharge claims out of their power to meet, they prevari. cate, and refuse justice when it is due; in the other, their funds are profusely squandered and their money lavished upon unimportant and useless objects. The latter is the present situation of this Government. You have an overflowing treasury, and you know not what to do with your surplus funds. Now, sir, as I am one of those who do not consider a national debt to be a national blessing, I propose to discharge your national debt—pay off every shilling— take up the last bond; it will be the brightest star in the galaxy of your renown. Exhibit to the world the bright example of a nation, not sixty years old, having passed through two expensive and lengthy wars, and free of debt. When that shall be accomplished, (and we are assured it will be in a few years) our manufacturers will have acquired strength sufficient to compete with their foreign opponents, and will themselves unite in the propriety of a gradual but certain reduction of duties until the revenue shall only be equal to the necessities of the Government, and the •people relieved from heavy burdens. r. ANGEL said it was with great diffidence he rose to address the committee. It was his first attempt to speak upon that floor, and it was with much difficulty he had raised his courage to the speaking point. We have been several days [said Mr. A.] engaged in the discussion of this bill. I have listened with strict and painful attention to the arguments urged in favor of its passage. I have witnessed, with astonishment and with alarm, the ardent

zeal with which its friends are hurried forward. Reluctant as I have been to engage in this discussion, I could not sit here quietly, and in silence see the screws turned upon the people. I could not see burdens unjustly and unwarrantably imposed upon my constituents, without protesting against it. I consider this system of legislation cruel, unjust, and oppressive. I consider it as fraught with the most dangerous tendency, and as leading to the most disastrous consequences. My feelings are such, that I cannot repress them when I see the fruits of honest industry about to be coined into dollars and cents, and squandered by a profligate hand upon projects which are useless and idle. I have prepared an amendment to this bill, which I intend to offer at a proper time, if the motion to strike out the first section does not prevail. If gentlemen are determined to force the bill through, right or wrong—if they are determined to plunder the treasury, and pursue a course of public rapine, I feel anxious that the State of New York should not participate in the disgrace. I believe this is the first attempt of this Government to force her system of road-making into that State. The small section of this road which is to be located within her limits, appears to be intended as an offer of earnest money, to bind her to the unhallowed compact. I protest against the whole system, and particularly against this attempt to contaminate that State. Should this bill pass in its present shape, I should consider the intrusion into our territory as a bane to our prosperity, a poison to our happiness, and the destruction of our tranquillity. As soon as an opportunity shall offer, I will move to amend the bill by striking out the words “Buffalo, in the State of New York,” and inserting “the northern boundary of the State of Pennsylvania.” This amendment would exclude New York from the bill and from its contamination. We ask not, nor do we need, your aid in the construction of our roads and canals. We desire you to confine yourself to your proper sphere of legislation, and not to interfere with the internal regulations of our State. We will willingly and cheerfully pay all the taxes and bear all the burdens which you may constitutionally impose upon us; we will not rebel—we will raise no insurrection—we will not threaten a dissolution of the Union; but when you oppress us by your unjust, unauthorized, and partial legislation, we will tell you of it. We will boldly and fearlessly protest against your encroachments, and we will not withhold our remonstrances when you extend the arm of oppression over us. We will tell you of our wrongs; as an independent State, we will assert our rights; and we will never hang about your halls of legislation, in the character of supplicants and beggars, watching for the crumbs that may fall from your table. Following the example of gentlemen who have preceded me in opposition to this bill, I will refrain from discussing the constitutional power of this Government over the subject of internal improvement. The arguments upon that subject have been worn thread-bare; they have been again and again repeated; the subject has been exhausted in the hands of abler men, and I feel myself incompetent to shed additional light upon the question. The omission to discuss the constitutional question in this debate appears to have been assumed by the friends of the bill oi. giving of a cognovit to their claim of constitutional power. Sir, I wish those gentlemen expressly to understand me as not yielding my assent to their constitutional doctrines. I wish them to understand that I sign no cognovit to their unfounded claim, but that I insist that if this bill becomes a law, that law will be the offspring of usurped authority. Gentlemen have said that Congress, by its enactments, has settled the constitutional power of the Government in relation to internal improvements, Can Congress confer a new power? Can Congress rule the constitution? That instrument was designed to control the powers of Con

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Can one aqt of usurpation be pleaded as authority to justify the commission of another No. The constitution remains what it was in the beginning—it is the same now that it was at the time of its ratification by the States. It remains unaltered, nor can it be altered but by the eonsent of three-fourths of the States. For that instrument I entertain the highest veneration. I will not suffer myself to trample upon its authority. Each infraction of its H.” by Congress, is a signal for the downfall of our iberties. This bill is entitled “a bill for constructing a road from Buffalo, in the State of New York, by the way of Washington, to the city of New Orleans.” When I look into the provisions of this bill—when I see the stretch of authority there attempted—when I consider the profligate expenditure of money it proposes—when I reflect upon the burden it casts upon the people—when I view its partiality, its cruelty, its injustice, and its usurpation, and compare all with the constitutional powers of this Government, the title strikes me as being inappropriate. The title is wrong. It should be entitled “a bill to construct a road from the liberties of the country, by the way of Washington, to despotism.” It is not a road which the interest of the country calls for; the public good does not require it. Gentlemen have said it was necessary for the safe and easy transportation of the mail, for the marching of troops, for commercial intercourse, for the advancement of national prosperity, and ... the promotion of the general welfare; but when you contrast its advantages with the principles upon which it is to be constructed, with the cost of its construction and perpetual repairs, it looks more like a road to ruin than a road to ease and safety. I have an abhorrence to this species of legislation that I cannot overcome; it has grown out of long reflectiou and a careful consideration of the subject. Its tendency is rnicious; it begets collision and strife; it produces hearturning and ill blood between different States and sections of the Union. These effects do and will unavoidably attend it. If, in estimating the consequences, I have come to an erroneous conclusion, I have to regret it. The eorrectness of my conclusion appears to be supported by the sensitiveness manifested by gentlemen in this House whenever this subject is agitated. Do we not see the warmth of feeling and heat of temper it elicits Its discussion calls up the image of discord, and exhibits an acrimony of feeling and temper, which spends itself in accusing invective and keen reply. It should be our business here to harmonize, and not to distract; we should avoid those subjects which set in motion the discordant feelings of sectional interests. It should be our aim to strengthen the cord of union, and, by a kind and coneiliating exercise of our legislative functions, secure the confidence and attachment of the people and of the States. Partial o, beget jealousy and distrust, and destroy confidence in Government. The people will not rest quietly under oppression, when they see the fruit of their hard earnings bestowed upon objects in which they have no interest, and which are in themselves worse than useless. They will complain—their attachments will be alienated, and the federal power become odious, This bill appropriates fifteen hundred dollars per mile for the construction of this road; the length of the road is great enough to swell the sum appropriated to two million five hundred thousand dollars. This is but the beginning of the expenditure. This sum bears about the same proportion to the ultimate cost of construction, repairs, &c., when the whole shall be completed, as the title page of a book does to the whole volume. This two and a half millions is but a single instalment, the payment of which is to be repeated year after year, by appropriation after appropriation, through a series of years, to terminate the Lord knows where. I have not heard it contended, even by the friends of the bill, that the proposed appropriation will cover the cost

of the work. From the description given of the country over which the road is to pass, the streams that intersect its course, the swamps and the quagmires which lie in its way, it is evident that the cost per mile will far exceed the sum per mile expended upon the Uumberland road. so length of the Cumberland road now comple ed falls short of one-sixth the distance embraced by the road under consideration, and our statutes tell us that upwards of three millions have been expended upon that work. This two and a half millions is to be taken from the avails of the revenue. Nearly one-half the revenue is collected at the city of New York: the citizens of that State, by the consumption of articles subject to duties, pay about one-sixth part of the whole revenue. The appropriation in the bill will impose a tax of at least four hundred thousand dollars upon the State of New York, which must be taken from the pockets of her citizens. The fruit of their labor, under the screwing operations of this Government, must be taken from them, and expended upon this sublime and magnificent road; a road which they will never travel, and which, whilst it forms a drain upon their purses, will never return a farthing into them. The passage of this bill will say to the citizens of New York, “pay four hundred thousand dollars as a tribute to our power, and prepare yourselves to meet future exactions of a similar character, when we see fit to make them.” The sum to be extracted from the State of New York, by this single appropriation, is sufficient in amount to enable that State, could she control it, to accomplish some of her most useful and favorite plans of internal improvement, and this is to be bartered away for a few miles of a great national road, cutting through a corner of her territory. Let any gentleman look, for a moment, at the operation of this scheme, and then tell me whether he will have the hardihood to ask a New Yorker to vote for this bill. No, sir, I will not violate the public trust reposed in me: I will not prostitute my vote to the surrendering of the rights of the State. I will resist this attempt to force the shackles upon her. Were this a work of utility, and did there exist a reasonable prospect of its advancing the general welfare, the hardship would not be so great; but I repeat what my colleague [Mr. MoneLL] has said, the project is wild, visionary, idle, and useless. A few years ago, the State of New York applied to this Government for assistance in constructing her canal. Her then contemplated work was of a national character; it was no less than the connecting, by a navigable communication, of the waters of the great western lakes with the Hudson river, and uniting navigable waters extending from the Atlantic two thousand miles into the interior. What was your answer to this application ? Notwithstanding the important link this work was to form, notwithstanding the increase of commerce it was to create, and notwithstanding the vast facilities it was to afford, you, in your walike and other operations, told her that you had not the constitutional power to appropriate the funds of the nation to purposes of internal improvement. New York was satisfied with your answer; she neither murmured nor complained. She had too much patriotism, and too just a sense of your limited authority, to press you to a violation of that sacred compact which forms our bond of union. Taking you at your word, she believed you had decided in good faith upon her application, and she believed that your decision would stand as a controlling precedent in all similar cases. Upon the faith of this understanding, she resorted to her own energies, and, through a wise, prudent, and persevering policy, she has accomplished her grand design, and astonished the world by her success. She has taxed herself for this improvement: her own resources have met the current expense, and this Government has not been annoyed by beggarly applications for her relief. Whilst she has been ex: pending twenty millions of dollars for these objects, and

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

resting upon her own means to extinguish the cost, you have been lavishing the national funds upon interior projects in other sections of the Union; the utility of all of which combined, will not compare with what she has effected. * Since the wisdom of this Government has fathomed the depths of its power, reversed its solemn decision, and entered the field of internal improvement, New York has been undergoing a double taxation. She has met the demands for her own improvements, and been cruelly comE. to pay for the one-sixth of yours. Accumulating urdens oppress her; she finds her hands tied, and her treasury exhausted. She is compelled to impose a direct tax upon her citizens, to meet the current expenses of her Government, and to suspend the prosecution of some of her most favorite works. In this embarrassing state of her finances, and whilst deploring her want of means necessary for the further prosecution of her favorite plans, you threat. en, in addition to your former exactions, to rifle her of four hundred thousand dollars by this bill, and to perpetuate your oppression. Sir, I of: the motion to strike out the first section of this bill wi prevail; if it does not, I will offer the amendment I mentioned, at the earliest opportunity. As a representative from the State of New York, I protest against the power of this Government to pass this bill into a law. I protest against its partiality, and against its prodigal waste of the public treasure. New York has pa. tiently and quietly borne all the burdens you have cast upon her. . Her attachment to the Union forbids the thought of estranging herself from you. She asks you to return to those principles which governed your councils in decid... ing her application. If you have a surplus in your treasury, she asks you to apply it to the payment of your national debt, and, when that shall have been done, if a surplus still remain, she asks you for a just and equal distribution. Should you refuse this request, and continue your present system of legislation, regardless of her rights, to say the least of it, she will take it most unkindly. Mr. PETTIS now withdrew the motion which he made some days ago, to strike out the enacting clause of the bill, having at first made it to enable gentlemen to discuss the general merits, free of the amendments proposed. Mr. CRAIG, of Virginia, regretted that the motion was withdrawn, as he thought it desirable to see whether there was a majority for the bill, before the amendments were taken up. Mr. STORRS, of New York, renewed the motion to strike out the enacting clause, and proceeded to offer his reasons for being opposed to this bill, although now and always an advocate of the constitutional power of inter. nal improvement. Mr. BOULDIN said, he had no prepared speech to make on the subject; he had no note of what had been said on it by others; but the deep interest felt by those who sent me here, [said Mr. B.] in the question now under considera. tion—an interest felt by them in common with all the growers of cotton, rice, and tobacco, in this Union, forbids that I should give, entirely, a silent vote. The evils, both moral and political, which must and will arise from carrying the principle of this into practical effect, from executing a fo scheme of internal improvement, have been set orth so clearly by my colleague, [Mr. BARBOUR) the inexpediency of the proposed measure proved by arguments so strong and clear, that nothing would be needed to exemplify, extend, or apply his views, were I able to execute such a task. And as it regards the road now proposed, from Buffalo, by the way of Washington, to New Orleans, if anything had been wanting to prove its inutility, I had almost said its absurdity, when compared with its cost, the same has been most amply supplied by the ... gentleman from New York, [Mr. Storks] who, though a ; friend to the principle of the bill, proves that the measure

itself is any thing else rather than wisdom. I have but a single additional view of this case to present to this committee. Sir, my constituents, together with the growers of two-thirds of the whole exports of this Union, have regarded and do regard the proceedings of the present Congress with much anxiety. Upon their minds, the conviction that an unequal share of the public burdens is laid on them, is deep rooted; it is an opinion fixed as fate, it has been well and long examined; every fact and circumstance belonging to it have been viewed and reviewed, patiently and diligently, and have been presented, here and elsewhere, in a light so clear, that, as it appears to me, nothing but the potent effect of real or supposed interest could prevent the majority (to whom I now address o from seeing it as it is. And though I may be truly tol

that interest has as binding an effect on one side as the other, the very fact that we are arranged on different sides, according to our general occupations, proves the unequal operation of our present revenue laws. The majority, I know, call the protecting duties the American system, and say it is good; and for them it may seem so. I shall not enter the lists against their formed, their nourished opinions, based as they are on apparent interest; it would be a hopeless task indeed. But I may, I think, safely ask this committee to believe, that, in the opinion of the whole southern country, (except the sugar planters) they are unequally taxed; and I said that the movements of this Congress were regarded by them with deep solicitude; they looked, sir, with anxiety for the President's message; they had no right to expect from him an abandonment of the tariff principle; they knew, when they voted for him, that his opinions were with the majority on that point; they, therefore, did not expect him to recommend a system of taxation, by which they would be required to pay no more than their equal share of the public burdens; but they did expect him to recommend a modification of the present law on that subject; they were not disappointed; they had a right to demand of him, and of you, that in this modification their interests should be regarded. Yes, sir, and that their opinions, too, should have their due weight; here, sir, the message is also as it should be: for the sake of harmony in our national councils, an abandonment of the scheme of internal improvement is distinctly recommended. But the indications of the temper of the House on these two points are calculated to increase the anxiety of the South to produce alarm in their minds. A bill to modify the tariff in the spirit of the message, was reported by the Committee of Ways and Means. It was kicked out with indignity by this House, and by most of the same votes; a most alarming liberality in appropriations is observable. Shall the entire payment of the public debt give us no relief? I beg the committee to pause, and think of this matter; we have no hope for justice, we look not for equality of taxation. This inequality we have borne, and (to be applied to the necessary expenses of Government) we will bear it so long as it is tolerable: nor will I attempt to mark the limits, to which Virginia will go. Whatsoever can be done by heroic fortitude, all that can be dictated by love of this, Union, by her clear perception of her deep interest in it, will be done. But, I pray you, do not declare to her that the present inequality of taxation shall not only remain, as it respects the proportions, but shall be kept up, as it regards also its amount. It is not sufficient to answer that this inequality is imaginary. The legislators of this land cannot wisely, they cannot safely, disregard the deliberate, settled opinions of the growers of two-thirds of its exports. This interest is too powerful in wealth, numbers and talents, to be thus treated. I ask not, I do not insinuate, that the decision of this question is to be left to them. No, sir, this whole subject is to be weighed and decided by the majority, who feel not the interest, and partake not of the opinions of the population allud: ed to. I ask that majority, in framing their own opinions,

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

to spread out this whole country before their mind's eye. You know that sore restlessness exists, if you will not, and think you cannot appease it. It is unwise, it is unsafe, to increase it. The arguments which the committee have heard from others, prove clearly that this road could get but few votes in its favor, upon a simple comparison of public and general utility with its cost. The abstract principle of internal improvement with its connexion with the American system (as it is called) is to carry the bill, if carried at all. Should this bill pass, I should regard it as conclusive that the purpose of this Government, to keep the present grinding oppression of the South up to its present amount, is fixed. I have an awful feeling on this point. I know well the opinions of my own constituents, and we all know that one common feeling, on this subject, pervades the whole southern country. They cannot, for one moment, be duped into the belief that the inequality they are subjected to, is, under any circumstances, to be made to them by the disbursements of the Government. The best, the most they could hope for, under the operation of this internal improvement system, is an effect sometimes seen in the conduct of a spectator, who, finding that the stock on hand has fallen in price, goes on pur. chasing on a falling market, whereby he lowers the average, but increases his loss. So long, therefore, as the southern country pays two dollars tax for every one dol. lar of that tax that is paid into the treasury, will it be plain to them that, even on an equal application of the revenue to all parts of the Union, they will be losers one hundred r cent.; but they know they are to lose more. They ave no warrant for the belief, that those who now see not that they are unequally taxed, will ever be less unegual in the application of the proceeds. Should anything be done in their country, under the name of internal im. provement, they well . know that, for every dollar thus received, they will pay five; and, from the manner such works must and will be executed, their own contributions to the particular work itself will exceed its value. But, sir, if this bill passes, they see not in it a disposition to give them one dollar in five of their own money. They cannot regard the money as appropriated to open the road. No, air; they will believe that the road is to be opened to appropriate the money. I shall say nothing of the want of lawful power which should now hold our hand. Reasons, good, for declining to argue that question here, were stated in the opening of the debate. But the deep, the settled opinion of the South, that they are oppressed, be. comes a matter of more serious consequences, when you take into view their equally settled opinion, that the opression arises from the exertion of unauthorized power in the manner the taxes are laid. This mode of continuing these taxes, or increasing them, is also by them regarded as unconstitutional. The state of feeling and of opinion thus entertained by the South, I wish taken up and considered as a substantive argument in itself, unconnected with the idea of its being well or ill founded. You cannot say it is capricious; you cannot say it is entitled to no respect; the opinion has been long fixed, it is identified with the soil; it is now, and always has been, the deliberate conviction of many of the clearest heads and soundest hearts of this or any other country. It pervades a large, a powerful section of country, marked out by natural boundaries. The lawgiver who acts in contempt or disregard of opinions, thus situated, acts unwisely; he treads on danger's giddy brink. Mr. Jefferson is often cited as authority here on all sides; the fixed opinion of NewEngland caused him to give up the embargo. The opinion of Massachusetts was not more firmly or warmly set against the embargo, than is that of the whole South against the tariff, and this mode of continuing or increasing it. Our federative system is supposed to be wisely contrived to secure as much of energy as is consistent with the preservation of liberty; but, sir, the lawgiver who acts on these States as

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

one compact whole, and regards not the opinions, nay, the prejudices of large compact minorities, knows nothing of the spirit in which the constitution was formed, or the practical administration by which our Union, under it, can be preserved. Mr. W. B. SHEPARD said, he did not rise at that late hour, with any desire of entering fully into the discussion of the subject before the committee. I have [said Mr. S.] no such uncharitable intention; I merely wish to explain the reasons why I should give the vote I intend to do on this occasion. And this, sir, would be unnecessary; but, representing the section of country, and holding the opinions which I do, my motives might otherwise be misunderstood. Perhaps in the course of my observations I may be induced to take a short excursion along this road, with the view of picking up a few stragglers i. the way side. This subject has been discussed upon two grounds—its constitutionality and its utility. , I had hoped, sir, after the abandonment of the constitutional ground of objection by the honorable gentleman from Virginia, we should have taken the question as settled, that the General Government have the right to prosecute works of improvement within the bounds of the several States. [Here Mr. BARBOUR interrupted Mr. S., and denied he had abandoned that ground. I have no intention of roaming over the numerous reasons why the General Government has this power; but would merely observe, that it is very surprising to see gentlemen denying this power, who admit other construetions of a more evil or dangerous tendency. It is the practice of those who advocate this restrictive construction of the constitution, to appeal to Mr. Jefferson as to a pure fountain of truth, undefiled; they catch at the 'slightest word which has fallen from him, and regard it as an incontrovertible political axiom. , And yet, sir, the most remarkable instance of constructive power ever assumed by this Government was under his administration, and by his recommendation. I mean the purchase of Louisiana. I would ask those who rely on this authority for the correct construction of the constitution, to show me the clause which gave the power of purchasing Louisiana to the Ge: neral Government; and, if they cannot find it expressed totidem verbis, will they stand up on this floor and eondemn that purchase ?, Will they condemn an act, which brought a new world into existence, and opened the fertile and prosperous West to the industry and enterprise of our fellow-citizens? I mention this fact, with no intention of derogating from the well-earned fame of Mr. Jefferson, but as an instance of his practical construction of the constitution. If his opinion changed, I know of no reason why we should wander, even with the divine Plato. It is unnecessary to go very remotely back for precedents of constructive powers—we can find them sufficiently numerous by daily observation in this House... It has not been many days since we construed two “little words’ into a statute of Virginia, in order to eject one member from his seat, and put another one in it. And for this we had the efficient aid of the honorable gentleman from Virginia, who spoke so feelingly *: this bill. I followed his example; for I thought his construction the right one, although the reasons for it would not be entirely satisfactory to a plain man, who understands words by their apparent meanings. The truth is, the constitution of the United States was intended to save the country from misery and anarchy. It is a grant of enumerated powers; powers which could not be very rigidly or strictly defined. The wants of a great and growing nation could not be anticipated or imagined; and so long as the exercise of those powers tends to the so welfare and prosperity, they answer the great end for which they were designed. It is immaterial what set of politicians are called to the administration of this Government—they will find themselves compelled to adopt the construction now contended for.

« 上一頁繼續 »