« AnteriorContinuar »
Postmaster General which relates to the carriage of the Mails of the United States upon rail-roads constructed by private corporations under the authority of the several States. The reliance which the General Government can place on those roads as a means of carrying on its operations, and the principles on which the use of them is to be obtained, cannot too soon be considered and settled. Already does tbe spirit of monopoly begin to exhibit its natural propensities, in attempts to exact from the public, for services which it supposes cannot be obtained on other terms, the most extravagant compensation. If these claims be persisted in, the question may arise, whether a combination of citizens,
acting under charters of incorporation from the States, can, be a direct refusal, or the demand of an exorbitant price, exclude the United States from the use of the established channels of communication between the different sections of the country ; and whether the United States cannot, without transcending their constitutional powers, secure to the Post Office Department the use of those roads, by an act of Congress which shall provide within itself some equitable mode of adjusting the amount of compensation. To obviate, if possible, the necessity of considering this question, it is suggested whether it be not expedient to fix by law, the amounts which shall be offered to railroad companies for the conveyance of the mails, graduated according to their average weight, to be ascertained and declared by the Pustmaster General. It is probable that a liberal proposition of that sort would be accepted.
In connexion with these provisions in relation to the Post Office Department, I must also invite your attention to the painful excitement produced in the South, by attempts to circulate through the mails indammatory appeals addressed to the passions of the slaves, in prints, and in various sorts of publications, calculated to stimulate them to insurrection, and to produce all the horrors of a servile war.
There is, doubtless, no respectable portion of our countrymen who can be so far misled as to feel any other sentiment than that of indignant regret at conduct so destructive of the harmony and peace of the country, and so repugnant to the principles of our national compact, and to the dictates of humanity and religion. Our happiness and prosperity essentially depend upon peace within our borders—and peace depends upon the maintenance, in good faith, of those compromises of the constitution upon which the Union is founded. It is fortunate for the country that the good sense, the generous feeling, and the deep rooted attachment of the people of the non-slaveholding States to the Union, and to their fellowcitizens of the same blood in the South, have given so strong and impressive a tone to the sentiments entertained against the proceedings of the misguided persons who have engaged in these unconstitutional and wicked attempis, and especially against the emissaries from foreign parts who have dared to interfere in this matter, as to authorize the hope, that those attempts will no longer be persisted in.
But if these expressions of the public will shall not be sufficient to effect so desirable a result, not a doubt can be entertained, that the non-slaveholding States, so far from countenancing the slightest interference with the constitutional rights of the South, will be prompt to exercise their authority in suppressing, so far as in them lies, whatever is calculated to produce this evil.
In leaving the care of other branches of this interesting subject to the
State authorities, to whom they properly belong, it is nevertheless proper for Congress to take such measures as will prevent the Post Office Department which was designed to foster an amicable intercourse and correspondence between all the members of the confederacy, from being used as an instrument of an opposite character. The General Government, to which the great trust is confided, of preserving inviolate the relations created among the States by the constitution, is especially bound to avoid in its own action, any thing that may (listurb them. I would, therefore, call the special attention of Congress to the subject, and respectfully suggest the propriety of passing such a law as will prohibit, under severe penalties, the circulation in the Southern States, through the mail, of incendiary publications intended to instigate the slaves to insurrection.
I felt it to be my duty, in the first message wlich I communicated to Congress, to urge upon its attention the propriety of amending that part
of the constitution which provides for the election of the President and the Vice President of the United States. The leading object which I had in view was the adoption of some new provisions, which would secure to the People the performance of this high duty, without any intermediate agency. In my annual communications since, I have enforced the same views, from a sincere conviction, that the best interests of the country would be promoted by their adoption. If the subject were an ordinary one, I should have regarded the failure of Congress to act upon it, as an indicaiius of their judgment, that the disadvantages which belong to the present system were not so great as those which would result from any attainable substitute that had been submitted to their consideration. Recollecting, however, that propositions to introduce a new feature in our fundamental laws cannot be too pariently examined, and ought not to be received with favor, until the great body of the people are thoroughly iinpressed with their necessity and value, as a remedy for real evils, I feel that, in renewing the recommendation I have heretofore made on this subject, I am not transcending the bounds of a just defer
he sense of Congress, or to the disposition of the People. However much we may differ in the choice of the measures which should guide the administration of the Governnient, there can be but little doubt in the minds of those who are really friendly to the republican features of our system, that one of its most important securities consists in the separation of the Legislative and Executive powers, at the saine tinse that each is held responsible to the great source of anthority, which is acknowledged to be supreme, in the will of the People constitutionally expressed. My reflection and experience satisfy me, that the framers of the constitution, although they were anxious to mark this feature as a settled and fixed principle in the structure of the Government, did not
adopt all the precautions that were necessary to secure its practical observance, and that we cannot be said to have carried into complete effect their intentions, until the evils which arise from this organic defect are remedied.
Considering the great extent of our Confederacy, the rapid increase of its population, and the diversity of their interests and pursuits, it cannot be disguised that the contingency by which one branch of the Legislature is to form itself into an electoral college, cannot become one of ordinary
occurrence, without producing incalculable mischief. What was intended as the medicine of the constitution in extreme cases, cannot be frequently used without changing its character, and sooner or later, produciug incurable disorder.
Every election by the House of Representatives is calculated to lessen the force of that security which is derived from the distinct and separate character of the Legislative and Executive functions, and while it exposes each to temptations adverse to their efficiency as organs of the con stitution and laws, its tendency will be to unite both in resisting the will
of the People, and thus give a direction to the Government anti-republican and dangerous. All history tells us that a free people should be watchful of delegated power, and should never acquiesce in a practice which will diminish their control over it. This obligation, so universal in iis applicatiou to all the principles of a republic, is peculiarly so in ours, where the formation of parties founded on sectional interests is so much fostered by the extent of our territory. These interests, represented by candidates for the Presidency, are constantly prone, in the zeal of party and selfish objects, to generate influences unmindful of the general good, and forgetful of the restraints which the great body of the people would enforce, if they were, in no contingency, to loose the right of ex. pressing their will. The experience of our country, from the formation of the Government to the present day, demonstrates that the people cannot too soon adopt some stronger safeguard for their right to elect the highest officers known to the constitution, than is contained in that sacred instrument as it now stands.
It is my duty to call the particular attention of Congress to the present condition of the District of Columbia. From whatever cause the great depression has arisen which now exists in the pecuniary concerns of this District, it is proper that its situation should be fully understood, and such relief or remedies provided as are consistent with the powers of Congress. I earnestly recommend the extension of every political right to the citizens of the District which their true interests require, and which does not conflict with the provisions of the constitution. It is believed that the laws for the government of the District require revisal and amendment, and that much good may be done by modifying the penal code, so as to give uniformity to its provisions.
Your attention is also invited to thu defects which exist in the Judicial System of the Uniled States.As al present organized, the States of the Union derive unequal advantages froin the Federal Judiciary, which have been so often pointed out that I deem it unnecessary to repeat them here. It is hoped that the present Congress will extend to all the States that equality in respect to the benefits of the laws of the Union which can only be secured by the uniformity and efficiency of the Judicial Sys. tem.
With these observations on the topics of general interest which are deemed worthy of your consideration, I leave them to your care, trusting that the Legislative measures they call for will be met as the wants and the best interests of our beloved country demand.
ANDREW JACKSON. WASHINGTON, 7th December, 1835.
THE CONGRESS, The Congress of the United States consists of the Senate and House of Representatives ; the former composed of forty-eight in number, the. latter of two hundred and forty-three, of whom three are delegates.
There are two Senators from each State. They were originally divided into three classes, and one third of them are re-chosen every second year for the term of six years. They are chosen by the Legislatures of the States. When a new State is admitted into the Union, the Secretary of the Senate puts into the ballot-box two numbers, upon paper of equal size, one of which is drawn out by each of the two Senators from the new State: the Senate having determined, by a previous order, to which class each Senator so drawing the one or the other burnber shall belong.
The Senate have upon all nominations by the President of the United States, a voice of advice and consent, or otherwise ; in which case it sits with closed doors. The journal of its proceedings is then secret. They have also a vote in the ratification of treaties; in wbich case it is indispensable that two-thirds of the should consent. The Senate is also a court for the trial of high crimes and misdemeanors, upon impeachments by the House of Representatives.
No person can be a Senator who has not attained the age of thirty years, and been vive years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not when elected, be au inbabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
The Vice President of the United States is, by the constitution, the President of the Senate, in which body he has only a casting vote, which is given in case of an equal rivision of the votes of the Senators. The Vice President of the United States, when he acts as President of the Senate, receives no addition to his pay as Vice President, which is $5,000 per annum. In his absence a President pro lempore is chosen, who during the period of his services, receives $16 per diem for every day he attends.
The Senate is the only perpetual body in the federal government. The perpetuity, however, belongs to it only in its character of Senale, the individual members, being renewed, as stated, by successive tbirds, biennially
The House of Representatives is composed of nembers chosen every second year by the People of the several States; and the electors in each State must have the qualifications requisite for electors of the inost numerous branch of the State Legislature.
Representatives are apportioned ainong the several States according to their respective numbers, which are determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service, for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons. An enumeration of the inhabitants of the United States must be made every ten years. The first enumeration was made in 1790, the fifth in 1830.
No person can be a Representative who has not attained the age of twenty-five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an inhabitant of the State in which lhe shall bo chosen.
When vacancies happen in the representation from any State, it is made the duty of the executive authority thereof, to issue writs of election, to fill such vacancies,
The Speaker of the House of Representatives is chosen by a majority of the members of the House, for the term of the Congress to which he belongs as a member of the House. His privileges are the same as those of any other member; and his compensation in $16 per diem.
Each Senator and Representative receives, for his services, $8 per diem, during the period of his attendance in the Senate or House; and in case of sickness, this compensation is continued. The same allowance is made to each, for every 20 iniles of the usual road in going to, and returning from the Seat of Government.
The Congress must assemble at least once in every year, on the first Monday in December, if not otherwise provided by law. The President of the United States may convene them at any time upon giving forty days notice. Neither House can adjourn for more than three days without the crosent of the other, nor to any other place than that in which the two Houses shall be silting. In case of disagreement about the time, the President of the United States may adjourn them to such tiine as he thinks proper.
The Senate and House each form their own rules, and are respectively, judges of their own election,
The times, places, and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, is prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may, at any time by law, make or alter such regulatious, except as to the places of choosing Senators.
Both Senators and Representatives are, in all cases except treason, felony, and breach of the peace, privileged from arrest during their attendance at the session of their respective Houses, and in going to or returning from, the same; and for any speech or debate in either House, they cannot be questioned in any other place. Bills for raising revenue inust originate in the House ; and the House, solely, has the power of inpeachment.
No member of Congress can, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased, during such time ; and no person holding any office under the United States, can be a niember of either House during his continuance
in office ; nor can be be concerned either directly or indirectly, in whole, or in part, in any contract, &c. with the United States.
The President and Secretary of the Senate, and Speaker and Clerk of the House of Representatives, have the privilege of franking letters and packets, not exceeding two ovoces in weight, during the year; and each Senator, Representative, and Delegate in Congress, may frank letters and packets, of not more than two ounces in weight, and all documents printed by order of either House, from the period of sixty days before he takes his seat in Congress, until the cominencement of the next Congress
The officers of the Senate and of the House of Representatives are elected at the first session of each Congress. The Librarian is appointed by the President, but before he can enter upon the duties of his office, he is required to give a bond, which must be a pproved by the President of the Senato and Speaker of the House of Representatives. The term of his service is not limited by law.