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tain, than that every unfavorable vicissitude in trade, every period of commercial distress and embarrassment, would give rise to importunate and clamorous calls for indulgence, and for an injudicious extension of discounts, which no administration would have the firmness to resist. Every one who has witnessed the urgency and unanimity with which the representatives of the States indebted for public lands, have pressed the claims of their citizens for indulgence and remission, must be satisfied, that, if the citizens of all the States should become in debted much more largely for bank loans, the Government would have scarcely any faculty of resistance, when appeals for indulgence should come from all quarters of the Union, sustained by the strong plea of public distress and
The policy of extending indulgence to the public debtors, and of granting more liberal loans to the community, would, in the natural course of things, become the favorite theme of those who aspired to popular favor. Political parties would come to be divided upon the ques tion of observing towards the public debtors a strict banking policy, indispensable to the maintenance of specie payments, on the one hand, or a liberal Government policy, necessarily involving a suspension of specie pay ments, on the other. And when it is considered that the whole class of debtors, always the most numerous and active portion of the community, would be naturally in favor of increasing bank issues, and extending bank indulgencies, it can scarcely be doubted that specie payments would be suspended in the first great pecuniary exigency, growing out of embarrassments in our commerce, or deficiencies in our revenue.
The Government, therefore, which is under the most sacred obligations to constrain all the banks to maintain specie payments, with a view to the uniformity and soundness of the currency, would by its own example, perpetuate the great national evil of a fluctuating and depreciated circulating medium.
These evils, which would be so highly probable in time of peace, would be almost certain in the event of war. The temptation to supply the Federal Treasury by the easy process of bank issues, rather than resort to the unpopular process of internal taxation, would be too fascinating to be resisted. We should thus experience what every nation has experienced in like circumstances, the manifold evils of a mere paper currency, having no relation to any standard of intrinsic value.
[H. OF R.
Deeply impressed with the conviction that the weak point of a free Government is the absorbing tendency of Executive patronage, and sincerely believing that the proposed bank would invest that branch of the Government with a weight of moneyed influence more dangerous in its character, and more powerful in its operation, than the entire mass of its present patronage, the committee have felt that they were imperiously called upon, by the highest considerations of public duty, to express the views they have presented, with a frankness and freedom demanded by the occasion. It is, at the same time, due to their own feelings, that they should state unequivocally their conviction, that the suggestion of the Chief Magistrate, which they have thus freely examined, proceeded from motives of the most disinterested patriotism, and was exclusively designed to promote the welfare of the country. This is not the mere formal and heartless homage, sometimes offered up to official station, either from courtesy or interest, but a tribute which is eminently due, and cheerfully rendered, to the exalted character of the distinguished individual on whom it is bestowed.
Extract of a letter from an intelligent merchant in Charleston, South Carolina, to the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, illustrating the exchange operations of the Bank of the United States.
"This effect of diminishing the vast difference of exchange between the various points of the country, was evidently produced by the bank. The advantages produced by this institution, in the intercourse between the Western and Atlantic States, can be duly appreciated, only by one who sees, passing before him, the actual operation of the system of exchange it has created. For example: Lexington, in Kentucky, annually accumulates a large surplus of funds to her credit in Charleston, derived from the sale of horses, hogs, and other live stock, driven to that as well as to other Southern markets by her citizens. Philadelphia is indebted to Charlesand Lexington is indebted to Philadelphia for merchan ton for exchange remitted, dividends on bank stock, &c. dise. Without the transportation of a single piece of coin, Lexington draws on Charleston, and remits the check to Philadelphia in payment of her debt there; which operation adjusts the balance between the three points of the triangle almost without expense or trouble. Could such facilities be obtained from any other than an institution having branches in different parts of the Union acting as co-partners in one concern f Local banks, whatever might be their willingness, could not accommodate in the same manner and to a like extent."
In these views the committee are fully sustained by the opinion of Mr. Lowndes, expressed in 1819. These are his words: "That the destruction of the [United States] Bank would be followed by the establishment of paper "The discounting of bills on the low terms establish money, he firmly believed; he might almost say, he ed by the Branch Bank at this place, is a great benefit to knew. It was an extremity from which the House would the agricultural interest, particularly in enhancing the recoil, if now proposed: but if the resolution on the table price of cotton and rice; and were the bank to stop its were passed, it would very soon be proposed. The sub-operations, there is no saying how far these staples ject was too large for an incidental discussion. Gentle would be depressed. The private dealers in exchange men thought the amount of Government paper might be would take the place of the bank in that business, and limited, and depreciation prevented, by the rate of inter- their profits on bills would be taken out of the pockets of est which should be exacted. Inadequate every where, the planters, as the merchants would always regulate the the security was particularly ineffectual in the United
But the inevitable tendency of a Government bank to involve the country in a paper system, is not, in the opinion of the Committee, the greatest objection to it. The powerful, and in the hands of a bad administration, the irrresistible and corrupting influence which it would exercise over the elections of the country, constitutes an objection more imposing than all others united. No matter by what means an administration might get into pow er, with such a tremendous engine in their hands, it would be almost impossible to displace them without some miraculous interposition of Providence,
price they would give for an agricultural production, by
H. OF R.]
Veto on the Maysville Road Bill.
[21ST CONG. 1ST SESS.
expected in one which, like ours, owes its existence to the freedom of opinion, and must be upheld by the same influence. Controlled as we thus are, by a higher tribunal, before which our respective acts will be canvassed with the indulgence due to the imperfections of our nature, and with that intelligence and unbiassed judgment which are the true correctives of error, all that our responsibility demands is that the public good should be the measure of our views, dictating alike their frank expression and honest maintenance.
"If the Bank of the United States were destroyed, the all my duties. Diversity of sentiment among public funelocal banks would again issue their paper to an excessive tionaries, actuated by the same general motives, on the amount; and while a few adventurous speculators would character and tendency of particular measures, is an incibe much benefited by such an issue, the honest and unsus-dent common to all Governments, and the more to be pecting citizens of our country would, finally, be the losers. If we look back to what took place in New York, Pennsylvania, the Western States, and even in our own State, we shall see the grossest impositions committed by Banks commencing with a few thousand dollars in specie, buying up newspapers to puff them as specie paying Banks, in order to delude the public, and, after getting their bills into circulation, blowing up, and leaving the unsuspecting planter and farmer victims of a fraud, by which they were deprived of the hard earnings of years of honest industry. But, Sir, I believe the Bank owes a great deal of the opposition which exists, and has existed, to the fact that it has put down these fraudulent institutions got up by combinations and conspiracies of speculators; and who, after receiving large dividends, managed to destroy the credit of their own paper, and, by the agency of brokers, bought it up at half its nominal value.
"Since I last wrote you, I had a conversation with a gentleman in the confidence of some of the moneyed men of the North, and he says they are determined to break up the United States' Bank, to enable them to use their money to advantage; as that institution gives so many facilities to the community, as to deprive them of their former profits."
the opening of its present session, I endeavored to exhibit In the message which was presented to Congress at briefly my views upon the important and highly interesting subject, to which our attention is now to be directed. I was desirous of presenting to the Representa tives of the several States in Congress assembled, the inwould reconcile the diversity of opinion concerning the quiry, whether some mode could not be devised which powers of this Government over the subject of internal improvement, and the manner in which these powers, if conferred by the Constitution, ought to be exercised. The act which I am called upon to consider, has therefore, been passed with a knowledge of my views on this to. In that document the following suggestion will be question, as these are expressed in the message referred found:
"There is another consideration; the distress would be immense, which a refusal to renew the charter would produce among those who are indebted to the institution: for I find that to this Branch, the planters, owe upwards bable that any adjustment of the tariff, upon principles "After the extinction of the public debt, it is not proof a million of dollars; and I have no hesitation in saying, satisfactory to the people of the Union, will, until a reas safe a debt as is owing to any Bank in the Union. if the Bank should wind up its affairs, these planters considerable surplus in the treasury, beyond what may But mote period, if ever, leave the Government without a could not get credit from other institutions; and as the be required for its current service. As then the period Bank can sue in the United States' Court, where judg- approaches when the application of the revenue to the ment is obtained almost at once, property would be payment of debt will cease, the disposition of the surplus greatly depressed, and moneyed men would buy it up will present a subject for the serious deliberation of for half its value. Throughout the Union, all classes Congress; and it may be fortunate for the country that it would suffer, except those who should hold up their is yet to be decided. Considered in connexion with the money to go into the brokerage business, or buy property difficulties which have heretofore attended appropriaat a sacrifice. If I were sure the bank would not be rechartered, I would convert my property into money, with a view to dealing in exchange. I could make a vast fortune by it."
MAYSVILLE ROAD BILL
tions for purposes of internal improvement, and with those which this experience tells us will certainly arise, whenever power over such subjects may be exercised by the General Government, it is hoped that it may lead to the adoption of some plan which will reconcile the diversified interests of the States, and strengthen the bonds which unite them. Every member of the Union, in peace and in war, will be benefited by the improveThe following message was received from the Presi- ment of juland navigation and the construction of highdent of the United States, returning to the House of Re-ways in the several States. Let us then endeavor to atpresentatives the enrolled bill entitled "An act authorizing a subscription of stock in the Maysville, Washington, Paris, and Lexington Turnpike Road Company," with his objections thereto :
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, MAY 27, 1880.
To the House of Representatives:
tain this benefit in a mode which will be satisfactory to all. That hitherto "adopted has been deprecated as an infraction of the Constitution by many of our fellowcitizens; while by others it has been viewed as inexpedi ent. All feel that it has been employed at the expense GENTLEMEN: I have maturely considered the bill pro- the constitutional power of Congress to make what I conof harmony in the legisiative councils;" and adverting to posing to authorize "a subscription of stock in the Mays-sider a proper disposition of the surplus revenue, I subjoin ville, Washington, Paris, and Lexington Turnpike Road the following remarks: "To avoid these evils, it appears Company," and now return the same to the House of Re- to me that the most safe, just, and federal disposition presentatives, in which it originated, with my objections which could be made of the surplus revenue, would be its to its passage.
Sincerely friendly to the improvement of our country by means of roads and canals, I regret that any difference of opinion in the mode of contributing to it should exist between us; and if, in stating this difference, I go beyond what the occasion may be deemed to call for, I hope to find an apology in the great importance of the subject, an unfeigned respect for the high source from which this branch of it has emanated, and an anxious wish to be correctly understood by my constituents in the discharge of
apportionment among the several States according to their ratio of representation; and should this measure not be found warranted by the Constitution, that it would be expedient to propose to the States an amendment authorizing it."
The constitutional power of the Federal Government to construct or promote works of internal improvement, presents itself in two points of view; the first, as bearing upon the sovereignty of the States within whose limits their execution is contemplated, if jurisdiction of the ter
21ST CONG. 1ST SESS.]
Veto on the Maysville Road Bill.
[H. OF R.
ritory which they may occupy, be claimed as necessary constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigato their preservation and use; the second, as asserting the tion of water courses, in order to facilitate, promote, and simple right to appropriate money from the National give security to internal commerce among the several Treasury in aid of such works when undertaken by State authority, surrendering the claim of jurisdiction. In the first view, the question of power is an open one, and can be decided without the embarrassment attending the other, arising from the practice of the Government.
Although frequently and strenuously attempted, the power, to this extent, has never been exercised by the Government in a single instance. It does not, in my opinion, possess it; and no bill, therefore, which admits it, can receive my official sanction.
States; and to render more easy and less expensive, the means and provisions for the common defence." Regarding the bill as asserting a power in the Federal Government to construct roads and canals within the limits of the States in which they were made, he objected to its passage, on the ground of its unconstitutionality, declaring that the assent of the respective States, in the mode provided by the bill, could not confer the power in question; that the only cases in which the consent and cession of particular States can extend the power of Congress, are those specified But, in the other view of the power, the question is and provided for in the constitution; and superadding to differently situated. The ground taken at an early pe- these avowals, his opinion, that "a restriction of the power riod of the Government, was "that whenever money has to provide for the common defence and general welfare,' been raised by the general authority, and is to be appli- to cases which are to be provided for by the expenditure ed to a particular measure, a question arises, whether of money, would still leave within the legislative power the particular measure be within the enumerated author- of Congress all the great and most important measures of ities vested in Congress. If it be, the money requisite Government; money being the ordinary and necessary for it may be applied to it; if not, no such application means of carrying them into execution," I have not been can be made." The document in which this principle able to consider these declarations in any other point of was first advanced, is of deservedly high authority, and view, than as a concession that the right of appropriation should be held in grateful remembrance for its immediate is not limited by the power to carry into effect the agency in rescuing the country from much existing abuse measure for which the money is asked, as was formerly and for its conservative effect upon some of the most contended. valuable principles of the constitution. The symmetry and purity of the Government would, doubtless, have been better preserved, if this restriction of the power of appropriation could have been maintained without weakening its ability to fulfil the general objects of its institution; an effect so likely to attend its admission, notwithstanding its apparent fitness, that every subsequent administration of the Government, embracing a period of thirty out of the forty-two years of its existence, has adopted a more enlarged construction of the power. It is not my purpose to detain you, by a minute recital of the acts which sustain this assertion; but it is proper that I should notice some of the most prominent, in order that the reflections which they suggest to my mind, may be better understood.
The views of Mr. Monroe upon this subject were not left to inference. During his administration, a bill was passed through both Houses of Congress, conferring the jurisdiction and prescribing the mode by which the Federal Government should exercise it in the case of the Cumberland Road. He returned it with objections to its passage, and in assigning them, took occasion to say, that in the early stages of the Government, he had inclined to the construction that it had no right to expend money, except in the performance of acts authorized by the other specific grants of power, according to a strict construction of them; but, that, on further reflection and observation, his mind had undergone a change; that his opinion then was, "that Congress have an unlimited power to raise money, and that, in its appropriation, they have a disIn the administration of Mr. Jefferson, we have two cretionary power, restricted only by the duty to appropriate examples of the exercise of the right of appropriation, it to purposes of common defence, and of general, not lowhich, in the consideration that led to their adoption and cal, national, not State benefit;" and this was avowed to in their effects upon the public mind, have had a greater be the governing principle through the residue of his adagency in marking the character of the power, than any ministration. The views of the last administration are of subsequent events. I allude to the payment of fifteen such recent date as to render a particular reference to them millions of dollars for the purchase of Louisiana, and to unnecessary. It is well known that the appropriating the original appropriation for the construction of the Cum-power, to the utmost extent which had been claimed for it, berland Road; the latter act deriving much weight from in relation to internal improvements, was fully recognized the acquiescence and approbation of three of the most and exercised by it.
powerful of the original members of the confederacy, This brief reference to known facts will be sufficient to expressed through their respective Legislatures. Al- show the difficulty, if not impracticability, of bringing though the circumstances of the latter case may be such back the operations of the Government to the construction as to deprive so much of it as relates to the actual con- of the Constitution set up in 1793, assuming that to be its struction of the road, of the force of an obligatory expo- true reading, in relation to the power under consideration: sition of the constitution, it must, nevertheless, be admitted that, so far as the mere appropriation of money is concerned, they present the principle in its most imposing aspect. No less than twenty-three different laws have been passed through all the forms of the constitution, appropriating upwards of two millions and a half of dollars out of the national treasury in support of that improvement, with the approbation of every President of the United States, including my predecessor, since its commencement.
Independently of the sanction given to appropriations for the Cumberland and other roads and objects, under this power, the administration of Mr. Madison was characterized by an act which furnishes the strongest evidence of his opinion of its extent. A bill was passed through both Houses of Congress, and presented for his approval, "setting apart and pledging certain funds for
thus giving an admonitory proof of the force of implication, and the necessity of guarding the Constitution with sleepless vigilance, against the authority of precedents which have not the sanction of its most plainly defined powers. For, although it is the duty of all to look to that sacred instrument, instead of the statute book, to repudiate at all times encroachments upon its spirit, which are too apt to be effected by the conjuncture of peculiar and facilitating circumstances; it is not less true, that the public good and the nature of our political institutions require, that individual differences should yield to a well settled acquiescence of the people and confederated authorities, in particular constructions of the Constitution, on doubtful points. Not to concede this much to the spirit of our institutions, would impair their stability, and "defeat the objects of the Constitution itself.
H. of R.]
Veto on the Maysville Road Bill.
[21ST CONG. 1ST SESS.
The bill before me does not call for a more defi- appears, that if no adverse and unforeseen contingency nite opinion upon the particular circumstances which happens in our foreign relations, and no unusual diversion will warrant appropriations of money by Congress, to be made of the funds set apart for the payment of the aid works of internal improvement; for, although the national debt, we may look with confidence to its entire extension of the power to apply money beyond that of extinguishment in the short period of four years. carrying into effect the object for which it is appro- The extent to which this pleasing anticipation is dependpriated, has, as we have seen, been long claimed and ent upon the policy, which may be pursued in relation to exercised by the Federal Government, yet such grants measures, of the character of the one now under considehave always been professedly under the control of the ration, must be obvious to all, and equally so, that the general principle, that the works which might be thus events of the present session are well calculated to awakaided, should be "of a general, not local-national, not en public solicitude upon the subject. By the statement State" character. A disregard of this distinction would from the Treasury Department, and those from the Clerks of necessity lead to the subversion of the Federal sys- of the Senate and House of Representatives, herewith tem. That even this is an unsafe one, arbitrary in its na- submitted, it appears that the bills which have passed into ture, and liable, consequently, to great abuses, is too ob- laws, and those which, in all probability, will pass before vious to require the coufirmation of experience. It is the adjournment of Congress, anticipate appropriations however, sufficiently definite and imperative to my mind, with which the ordinary expenditures for the support to forbid my approbation of any bill having the charac- of Government, will exceed considerably the amount in ter of the one under consideration. I have given to its the Treasury for the year 1830. Thus, whilst we are di provisions all the reflection demanded by a just regard minishing the revenue by a reduction of the duties on for the interests of those of our fellow citizens who have tea, coffee, and cocoa, the appropriations for internal desired its passage, and by the respect which is due to improvement are increasing beyond the available means a co-ordinate branch of the Government; but I am not of the treasury; and if to this calculation be added the able to view it in any other light than as a measure of amount contained in bills which are pending before the purely local character; or if it can be considered national, two Houses, it may be safely affirmed that ten millions that no further distinction between the appropriate du- of dollars would not make up the excess over the Treaties of the General and State Government, need be at- sury receipts, unless the payment of the national debt be tempted; for there can be no local interest that may not postponed, and the means now pledged to that object with equal propriety be denominated national. It has applied to those enumerated in these bills. Without a no connexion with any established system of improve- well regulated system of internal improvement, this exments; is exclusively within the limits of a State, start-hausting mode of appropriation is not likely to be avoiding at a point on the Ohio river, and running out sixty ed, and the plain consequence must be, either a continumiles to an interior town; and even as far as the State ance of the national debt, or a resort to additional is interested, conferring partial instead of general advantages.
Although many of the States, with a laudable zeal, Considering the magnitude and importance of the pow- and under the influence of an enlightened policy, are er, and the embarrassments to which, from the very na. successfully applying their separate efforts to works of ture of the thing, its exercise must, necessarily, be sub- this character, the desire to enlist the aid of the General jected; the real friends of internal improvement ought Government in the construction of such as from their nanot to be willing to confide it to accident and chance. ture ought to devolve upon it, and to which the means What is properly national in its character, or otherwise, of the individual States are inadequate, is both rational is an inquiry which is often extremely difficult of solution. and patriotic; and, if that desire is not gratified now, it The appropriations of one year, for an object which is con- does not follow that it never will be. The general intelsidered national, may be rendered nugatory, by the re- ligence and public spirit of the American people furnish fusal of a succeeding Congress to continue the work, a sure guarantee, that, at the proper time, this policy on the ground that it is local. No aid can be de- will be made to prevail under circumstances more auspirived from the intervention of corporations, The ques- cious to its successful prosecution, than those which now tion regards the character of the work, not that of exist. But great as this object undoubtedly is, it is not those by whom it is to be accomplished. Notwith- the only one which demands the fostering care of the standing the union of the Government with the corpora- Government. The preservation and success of the Retion, by whose immediate agency any work of internal improvement is carried on, the inquiry will still remain, is it national and conducive to the benefit of the whole, or local, and operating only to the advantage of a portion of the Union.
But, although I might not feel it to be my official duty to interpose the executive veto, to the passage of a bill, appropriating money for the construction of such works as are authorized by the States, and are national in their character, I do not wish to be understood as expressing an opinion, that it is expedient at this time for the General Government to embark in a system of this kind, and anxious that my constituents should be possessed of my views, on this, as well as on all other subjects, which they have committed to my discretion, 1 shall state them frankly and briefly. Besides many minor considerations, there are two prominent views of the subject, which have made a deep impression upon my mind, which, I think, are well entitled to your serious attention, and will, I hope, be maturely weighed by the People.
From the official communication submitted to you, it
publican principle rest with us. To elevate its character and extend its influence, rank among our most important duties; and the best means to accomplish this desirable end, are those which will rivet the attachment of our citizens to the Government of their choice, by the comparative lightness of their public burdens, and by the attraction which the superior success of its operations will present to the admiration and respect of the world. Through the favor of an overruling and indulgent Providence, our country is blessed with general prosperity, and our citizens exempted from the pressure of taxation, which other less favored portions of the human family are obliged to bear; yet it is true, that many of the taxes collected from our citizens, through the medium of imposts, have, for a considerable period, been onerous. In many particulars, these taxes have borne severely upon the laboring and less prosperous classes of the community, being imposed on the necessaries of life, and this, too, in cases where the burden was not relieved by the consciousness, that it would ultimately contribute to make us independent of foreign nations for articles of prime necessity, by the encouragement of their growth and
manufacture at home. They have been cheerfully borne, because they were thought to be necessary to the support of Government, and the payment of the debts unavoidably incurred in the acquisition and maintenance of our national rights and liberties. But have we a right to calculate on the same cheerful acquiescence, when it is known that the necessity for their continuance would cease, were it not for irregular, improvident, and unequal appropriations of the public funds? Will not the people demand, as they have a right to do, such a prudent sysetm of expenditure, as will pay the debts of the Union, and authorize the reduction of every tax, to as low a point as the wise observance of the necessity to protect that portion of our manfactures and labor, whose prosperity is essential to our national safety and independence, will allow? When the national debt is paid, the duties upon those articles which we do not raise, may be repealed with safety, and still leave, I trust without oppression to any section of the country, an accumulating surplus fund, which may be beneficially applied to some well digested system of improvement.
[H. of R.
admitted by all candid minds. If we look to usage to de fine the extent of the right, that will be found so variant. and embracing so much that has been overruled, as to involve the whole subject in great uncertainty, and to ren der the execution of our respective duties in relation to it, replete with difficulty and embarrassment. It is in regard to such works, and the acquisition of additional territory, that the practice obtained its first footing. In most, if not all other disputed questions of appropriation, the construction of the Constitution may be regarded as unsettled, if the right to apply money, in the enumerated cases, is placed on the ground of usage.
This subject has been one of much, and I may add painful reflection to me. It has bearings that are well calculated to exert a powerful influence upon our hitherto prosperous system of government, and which, on some accounts, may even excite despondency in the breast of an American citizen. I will not detain you with professions of zeal in the cause of internal improvements. If to be their friend is a virtue whieh deserves commendation, our country is blessed with an abundance Under this view, the question, as to the manner in of it; for I do not suppose there is an intelligent citizen which the Federal Government can, or ought to embark who does not wish to see them flourish. But though all in the construction of roads and canals, and the extent to are their friend, but few, I trust, are unmindful of the which it may impose burthens on the people for these means by which they should be promoted: none cerpurposes, may be presented on its own merits, free of all tainly are so degenerate as to desire their success at the disguise, and of every embarrassment, except such as may cost of that sacred instrument, with the preservation of arise from the Constitution itself. Assuming these sug- which is indissolubly bound our country's hopes. If dif gestions to be correct, will not our constituents require ferent impressions are entertained in any quarter; if it the observance of a course by which they can be effected is expected that the People of this country, reckless of Ought they not to require it? With the best disposition their constitutional obligations, will prefer their local into aid, as far as I can conscientiously, in furtherance of terests to the principles of the Union, such expectations works of internal improvement, my opinion is, that the will in the end be disappointed; or if it be not so, then soundest views of national policy at this time, point to indeed has the world but little to hope from the examsuch a course. Besides, the avoidance of an evil influence ple of free government. When an honest observance of up n the local concerns of the country, how solid is the constitutional compacts cannot be obtained from commuadvantage which the Government will reap from it in the nities like ours, it need not be anticipated elsewhere; and elevation of its character? How gratifying the effect, the cause in which there has been so much martyrdom, of presenting to the world the sublime spectacle of a and from which so much was expected by the friends of republic of more than twelve millions of happy people, in liberty, may be abandoned; and the degrading truth, that the fifty-fourth year of her existence, after having passed man is unfit for self government admitted. And this will through two protracted wars, the one for the acquisition, be the case if expediency be made a rule of construction and the other for the maintenance of liberty-free from in interpreting the Constitution. Power in no governdebt, and with all her immense resources unfettered!ment could desire a better shield for the insidious adWhat a salutary influence would not such an exhibition vances, which it is ever ready to make, upon the checks that exercise upon the cause of liberal principles and free are designed to restrain its action. Government throughout the world! Would we not ourselves find, in its effect, an additional guarantee, that our political institutions will be transmitted to the most remote posterity, without decay? A course of policy destined to witness events like these, cannot be benefited by a legislation which tolerates a scramble for appropriations that have no relation to any general system of improvement, and whose good effects must, of necessity, be very limited. In the best view of these appropriations, the abuses to which they lead, far exceed the good which they are capable of promoting. They may be resorted to as artful expedients, to shift upon the Government the losses of unsuccessful private speculation, and thus by ministering to personal ambition and self aggrandizement, tend to sap the foundations of public virtue, and taint the administration of the Government with a demoralizing influence.
But I do not entertain such gloomy apprehensions. If it be the wish of the People that the construction of roads and canals should be conducted by the Federal Government, it is not only highly expedient, but indispensa bly necessary, that a previous amendment of the Constitntion, delegating the necessary power, and defining and restricting its exercise with reference to the sovereignty of the States, should be made. Without it, nothing extensively useful can be effected. The right to exercise as much jurisdiction as is necessary to preserve the works, and to raise funds by the collection of tolls to keep them in repair, cannot be dispensed with. The Cumberland road should be an instructive admonition of the consequences of acting without this right. Year after year, contests are witnessed, growing out of efforts to obtain the necessary appropriations for completing and repairing this useful work. Whilst one Congress may claim and exercise the In the other view of the subject, and the only remain-power, a succeeding one may deny it; and this fluctuation ing one, which it is my intention to present at this time, of opinion must be unavoidably fatal to any scheme, which, is involved the expediency of embarking in a system of from its extent, would promote the interests and elevate internal improvement, without a previous amendment of the character of the country. The experience of the past the Constitution, explaining and defining the precise has shown. that the opinion of Congress is subject to such powers of the Federal Government over it; assuming the fluctuation. right to appropriate money, to aid in the construction of national works, to be warranted by the contemporaneous and continual exposition of the Constitution, its insufficiency for the successful prosecution of them, must be
If it be the desire of the people that the agency of the Federal Government should be confined to the appropriation of money, in aid of such undertaking, in virtue of State authorities, then the occasion, the manner, and