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INGS EN CONGRE
THE PROCEEDINGS IN CONGRESS DURING THE PASSAGE OF THE BILL PROVIDING FOR THE PAYMENT OF THE PURCHASE PRICE OF ALASKA, WHEREIN THE HOUSE REQUIRED THE SENATE AND EXECUTIVE TO RECOGNIZE AND RESPECT THE RIGHT OF THE HOUSE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DETERMINATION OF THE QUESTION WHETHER OR NOT A CESSION OF FOREIGN TERRITORY TO THE UNITED STATES SHALL BE ASSENTED TO BY THE SOVEREIGN PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES.
In my report on "The status, etc.," submitted February 12, 1900, reference was made to the proposition that, in order to complete the cession of territory from another sovereign to the United States, it is necessary to secure the assent of the sovereign of the United States to such transfer; that sovereignty in the United States is vested in the people, and the sovereign will of the people is to be declared by the Congress and can not be declared by the military authority nor the treaty-making power of this Government. The House of Representatives has always asserted its high prerogative respecting this matter and insisted upon its being recognized. It would seem that ample justification for such insistence is found in propounding the question, How can the will of the sovereign people of the United States be ascertained except by the action of Congress, in which the House must participate?
There is also an additional reason, of great importance, why the House of Representatives should participate in determining whether or not a proposed cession of territory should be accepted, to which attention is directed by a discussion now in progress in this country. It is asserted by no inconsiderable number of people that a treaty providing for the cession of foreign territory to the United States being ratified by the Senate, signed by the Executive, ratifications exchanged and the treaty proclaimed, ipso facto, the revenue laws of the United States are so modified that the products of the territory to which the treaty relates are to be admitted into the ports of the United States free from custom duties. The Constitution provides (art. 1, sec. 7, cl. 1):
All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives.
In respect of this provision of the Constitution, The Federalist says (No. 58, pp. 269–270, ed. 1852):
The House of Representatives can not only refuse, but they alone can propose, the supplies requisite for the support of Government. They, in a word, hold the pursethat powerful instrument by which we behold, in the history of the British constitution, an infant and humble representation of the people, gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing, as far as it seems to have wished, all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the Government. This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people for obtaining a redress of every grievance and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.
Ante, page 37.
Is not this great power of the House of Representatives rendered nugatory if the treaty-making power, in which the House does not participate, may exempt from the operations of the revenue laws originating in the House the products of territory which the House contemplated and declared should be subject to said laws?
The fact that such modification of the revenue laws arises by implication from the cession or is incidental thereto, does not avoid the force of this important provision of the Constitution. If the treatymaking power may properly exercise this authority inferentially or incidentally, it may exercise it directly and enter into such reciprocity treaties respecting trade and commerce with foreign countries as it sees fit to do, and the House of Representatives is powerless to prevent such action.
The report on “ The status, etc.," submitted February 12, 1900, contained the following:
The subject was again before Congress when the bill making appropriations for the purchase of Alaska was under consideration, and was disposed of by the House accepting from a conference committee a preamble reciting that the stipulations of the treaty "that the United States shall accept of such cession * * * can not be carried into full force and effect except by legislation, to which the consent of both Houses of Congress is necessary.” (15 U. S. Stat., 198.)
The report of the conference committee was adopted by the Senate and House of Representatives, and thereby Congress declares that the cession of territory to the United States must be effected by legislative enactment; that is, the assent of both Houses of Congress must be secured.
The House of Representatives through all our history has guarded with vigilance its constitutional right to participate in the declaration of the will of the sovereign people of the United States in all matters which by the Constitution are subjected to the legislative branch of this Government. A review of all the instances in which the House has asserted this right would constitute a volume; therefore, I select the instance of Alaska, for the proceedings therein contain reviews of many former instances.
When the bill making an appropriation for the purchase price of Alaska was reported for passage, Mr. Loughridge, of Iowa, moved to amend by inserting the following as a substitute:
Whereas the President of the United States, on the 30th of March, 1867, entered into a treaty with the Emperor of Russia, by the terms of which it was stipulated that, in consideration of the cession by the Emperor of Russia to the United States of certain territory therein described, the United States should pay to the Emperor of Russia the sum of $7,200,000 in coin; and whereas it was further stipulated in said treaty that the United States shall accept of such cession, and that certain inhabitants of said territory shall be admitted to the enjoyment of all the rights and immunities of citizens of the United States; and whereas the subjects thus embraced in the stipulations of said treaty are among the subjects which, by the Constitution of the United States, are submitted to the power of Congress, and over which Congress has exclusive jurisdiction; and it being for such reason necessary that the consent of Congress should be given to the said treaty before the same can have full
force and effect, having taken into consideration the said treaty and approving of the stipulations therein. To the end that the same may be carried in o effect: Therefore,
SEC. 1. Be it enacted, That the assent of Congress is hereby given to the stipulations of said treaty. (Cong. Globe, 2d sess. 40th Cong., part 4, p. 3621.)
Mr. Loughridge supported his proposal with marked ability, advancing with other arguments the following:
I shall leave the question of the physical character of this territory and its value to others better informed than I am on that question. There is another question involved of far more importance, one before which the question of the value of this territory sinks into utter insignificance, a question more important than which has never been discussed within these walls. That question, sir, is in relation to the rights, the powers, and the constitutional prerogatives of this House of Representatives as one of the departments of this Government. That question is directly involved in this case, and to that I propose to direct my remarks; and so far as that question is concerned it makes no difference whether this territory is a worthless, frozen waste of eternal ice and snow or whether it is a fertile, blooming, fruitful garden. Upon this question the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs has said but little in his remarks in favor of this bill, and I say in all candor that I am unable to gather from the report of the committee or from the speech of the chairman what the opinion of the committee or of the chairman is in relation to the extent of the treaty-making power as vested in the President or in relation to the constitutional rights and prerogatives of the House in connection with treaties.
An attempt is being made, through the means of the treaty-making power, to concentrate almost all of the power of this Government in the hands of the President, subject only to the advice and consent of the Senate. And this proposition is, if adopted, a long step in that direction. I hesitate not to say, sir, that if, without any explanation, disaffirmance, or protest, we make this appropriation, we shall, so far as this House can do it, have surrendered practically all the power of the Government into the hands of the treaty-making department and reduced this House to the position of an involuntary agent of that power, with no discretion but to carry out its expressed will. That we are rapidly drifting in that direction it seems to me must be apparent to the most casual observer. By substituting a foreign government or an Indian tribe in place of this House, on the principle claimed by the Executive, there is nothing within the whole scope of the legislative powers of the Government that can not be done without the consent or intervention of this House. I defy any gentleman to point out a single act of legislation that can not be done through and by the treatymaking power if we admit that power to the extent claimed by the Executive.
From the course of the Executive in this case it is clearly his opinion and that of his advisers that Congress has in no case any discretion in relation to passing the laws necessary to carry treaties into effect; but that when a treaty is made by the President and ratified by the Senate it is the duty of this House then to recognize it as the supreme law of the land and to pass all laws necessary to carry it into effect, whatever may be the nature or character of its stipulations and regardless of the views of Congress as to its expediency or its bearing upon the public good. That the President has the power, with the consent of the Senate, to purchase territory from foreign powers to any extent and annex such territory to and make it a part of this Government and make all its inhabitants citizens of the United States, and to appropriate for such purpose such sums of money as he may see fit; that this may be done by secret treaty, without any authority or consent from Congress, and that after such treaty is consummated Congress has no control whatever over the matter, but must, without question or hesitation, appropriate the money required and pass all necessary laws to carry the treaty into effect; and there is no limit to the extent of this power. It may extend to the purchase of the whole continent, British America, Mexico, West India Islands, and thus insure the destruction of our Government.
Sir, as one of the Representatives of the people upon this floor I here enter my earnest and solemn protest against this monstrous assumption-this fatal political heresy. If this doctrine is to prevail, then, sir, this House is but a useless appendage to the Government, and for all practical purposes might as well be abolished. Can any gentleman upon this floor go home to his constituents and tell them that he has agreed to the surrender of his rights, his power, and his dignity as a member of this House, and the surrender of the constitutional rights of the people through their Representatives upon this floor to be heard upon as important questions as are involved in the unlimited extension of the jurisdiction of our Government and the unlimited increase of our already crushing debt?
I hold the true doctrine and the law in relation to the treaty-making power to be that which the House decla 'ed in 1795; that while the treaty-making power is vested in the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and while the House has no agency in making treaties, yet when a treaty contains stipulations in relation to subjects which by the Constitution are submitted to Congress, the treaty must depend for its execution upon laws to be passed by Congress, and that in all such cases it is the prerogative and the duty of Congress to deliberate, to take into view all of the considerations bearing upon the question, and to act upon it according to their judgment of the interests of the Government and the wishes of the people, and either pass the necessary laws, and thus give the treaty vitality and effect, or refuse to pass them, as in their opinion the public good requires.
Take the case now before the House: The President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, made a treaty of purchase with Russia whereby that power agreed to transfer to the United States certain territory, in consideration of which territory the United States agrees to pay Russia $7,200,000 in gold. This treaty was ratified by both powers and ratifications exchanged. And Congress is now asked to enact a law for the appropriation of the necessary money and to carry the treaty into effect. Now, if the doctrine I have referred to, and to which I object, is correct, and if without any legislation by Congress the treaty is effective, clothed with vitality and the law of the land, then no laws of Congress are necessary, and the treaty itself is a sufficient law for the appropriation of the money. Sir, the application to Congress for the passage of a law for the appropriation of the money and to carry the treaty into effect is a clear and conclusive demonstration of the error and the unsoundness of the doctrine claimed by those who regard this negotiation as perfected and binding without the action of Congress.
I trust, sir, that but few will be found upon this floor willing to consent to a doctrine so dangerous, willing to yield up the authority and prerogatives of this House vested in it by the Constitution of the country, and which it has always heretofore persistently maintained. But there is another question involved in this case in addition to that of the appropriation of the money, and one of equal importance and interest, and that is as to the power of the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, and without the consent of Congress, or of the people of the United States, by treaty, to extend the area of our Government and bring into its jurisdiction foreign countries and foreign peoples. This power I deny. I do not claim that the Constitution has vested this power in ('ongress in express terms. As I read that instrument it is silent on the subject. Such power is not by that instrument given to any department of the Government in express terms. I do not wish to be understood as denying this power to the Government. By the laws of nations all governments have the right to add to their domain by purchase and by conquest, and I suppose that our Government has this right, by the laws of nature, the same as the right of self-defense—the right to do what is necessary for its own existence.
Jefferson, I believe, placed the power to purchase Louisiana upon the law of necessity, of seli-preservation. Many of our greatest statesmen have placed it upon the clause in the Constitution giving Congress the power to admit new States into the Union. But from whatever source the power is derived, I deny that it belongs to or is vested in the treaty-making department, but that it belongs strictly to Congress. (Congressional Globe, second session, Fortieth Congress, part 4, pp. 3621, 3622, 3623.)
Mr. Meyers, of Pennsylvania, said: I will not for a moment admit that the action of the President and Senate binds us to complete any purchase of territory whatever. If the treaty-making power extended thus far we should be required to accept a country although inhabited by millions of slaves, or thousands of miles distant, though its religion were inclosed in the Koran, or its people dwelt at the feet of polygamy and barbarism. If Alaska could be thus acquired, why not China or Japan? To state the proposition that the House of Representatives need not be consulted in such an event is its own best refutation. It is unnecessary to trouble the committee with precedents. The House of Representatives asserted its right in this regard, even against the protest of Washington, 3s early as 1794, in relation to the British treaty, and has in no instances that I am aware of surrendered this right. Nor is the objection solely that a grant of money must be made by law before the treaty can be carried to its perfect consummation. It is for the people, through their Representatives, to say whether from locality or for any cause an acquisition of territory is subversive, in their opinion, of the interests or principles of the Government. (Ib., p. 3661.)
Mr. Ferriss, of New York, called attention to the fact that the House of Representatives had always theretofore insisted upon the necessity of concurrent action by both Houses of Congress in the acquisition of territory by the United States, and carefully reviewed the history of each acquisition. (Ib., p. 3663 et seq.)
The further debate in the House on the propositions contained in the substitute offered by Mr. Loughridge is to be found in the appendix to the Congressional Globe, second session Fortieth Congress, part 5. Arguments in support of the substitute were delivered by Paine, of Wisconsin (p. 305); Shellabarger, of Ohio (p. 377); Price, of Iowa (p. 380); Washburn, of Wisconsin (p. 392); Butler, of Massachusetts (p. 400); Delano, of Ohio (p. 452); Cullom, of Illinois (p. 473), and Williams, of Pennsylvania (p. 485). Arguments in opposition to the substitute were offered by Pouyn, of New York (p. 382); Banks, of Massachusetts (p. 385); Maynard, of Tennessee (p. 103); Stevens, of Pennsylvania (p. 421), and Orth, of Indiana (p. +20).
The addresses in support of the substitute are largely historical reviews of the instances and attendant circumstances wherein the House of Representatives has insisted upon the recognition of the rights asserted in the substitute. It is therefore impossible to abridge them or adequately present the arguments advanced in abbreviated form. The address of Mr. Cullom, then a Representative from Illinois and now a Senator from that State, sets forth the general argu