Imágenes de páginas

tion as favorable to humanity and justice dignity of style which may be commended as the frenzy of the Administration will to the imitation of his successors. It is allow. Utterly opposed to the grounds worthy of being preserved, and we thereupon which this war has been waged, and fore submit it to the judgment of our readcondemning the usurpation of authority, ers :by which the President commenced it, he, nevertheless, did not scruple to vote, with “ Gentlemen of the House of Representatives of the great body of the Whigs in Congress, the United States : the first supplies of men and money, which I am deeply sensible of the honor which you seemed to be indispensable to the rein- have conferred upon me by the vote which has forcement of General Taylor at that mo- just been announced, and I pray leave to exment of supposed exigency, of which the press my most grateful acknowledgments to

those who have thought me worthy of so disAdministration took such artful advantage. tinguished a mark of their confidence. He has been consistently, ever since, an " When I remember by whom this chair has earnest advocate for peace on terms com been filled in other years, and, still more, when patible with the honor and justice of a I reflect on the constitutional character of the magnanimous and Christian people.

body before me, I cannot but feel that you have The same moderation of opinion which assigned me a position worthy of any man's appears in this speech, in regard to the ambition, and far above the rightful reach of great and exciting subjects there referred my own.

* I approach the discharge of its duties with a to, is consistently preserved by Mr. Win- profound impression at once of their dignity throp upon other topics which have agita- and of their difficulty. ted the public. A sincere friend of the “ Seven years of service as a member of this Constitution, and earnestly desirous to main- branch of the National Legislature have more tain the harmony of the Union, he has

than sufficed to teach me that this is no place

of mere formal routine or ceremonious repose. conscientiously, we may say, refrained from Severe labors, perplexing cares, trying responthose ultra views on the subject of slavery, sibilities, await any one who is called to it, even either in the Northern or Southern aspect under the most auspicious and favorable cirof the question, which have so unhappily cumstances. How, then, can I help trembling and so unprofitably distracted some sections at the task which you have imposed on me, in of the country. Liberal and tolerant


the existing condition of this House and of the that subject, he has firmly maintained his country?

“In a time of war, in a time of high political own opinion against those on either side, excitement, in a time of momentous national who we may hope will acknowledge, in controversy, I see before me the Representatheir calmer reflections, the wisdom and tives of the People almost equally divided, not justice of his moderation.

merely, as the votes of this morning have alThe recent election of this gentleman to ready indicated, in their preference for persons, the honorable post he now fills in the but in opinion and in principle, on many of the House of Representatives, is an expressive most important questions on which they have token of the good opinion he has won on

May I not reasonably claim, in advance, from that theatre where his talents have been you alí, something more than an ordinary meamost profitably exerted for the benefit of sure of forbearance and indulgence, for whatthe country. No member of that House ever of inability I may manifest, in meeting the might better deserve this distinction. His exigencies and embarrassments which I cannot integrity as a man, his accomplishments as hope to escape? And may I not reasonably a statesman, and his fidelity as a Whig, vency, upon your labors and upon my own, the

implore, with something more than common ferrender the choice of the House an honor blessing of that Almighty Power, whose recordboth to the giver and receiver ; while his ed attribute it is, that He maketh men to be parliamentary skill in the appropriate func- of one mind in a house ? tions of his office enable him to requite the “Let us enter, gentlemen, upon our work of favor he has received, by the usefulness of legislation with a solemn sense of our responhis service.

sibility to God and to our country. However His address to the House, on the recent policy, we are united by the closest ties of per

we may be divided on questions of immediate occasion of taking the chair, exhibits a just manent interest and permanent obligation. We appreciation of the duties committed to

are the Representatives of twenty millions of him, and affords an example of graceful people, bound together by common laws and a

common liberty. A common flag floats daily thing in saying that there have been few periover us, on which there is not one of us who ods in our national history, when the eyes of would see a stain rest, and from which there is the whole people have been turned more intentnot one of us who would see a star struck. ly and more anxiously towards the Capitol, than And we have a common Constitution, to which they are at this moment, to see what is to be the oaths of allegiance, which it will be my done, here and now, for the vindication and profirst duty to administer to you, will be only, I motion of these lofty ends. am persuaded, the formal expression of those “Let us resolve, then, that those eyes shall at sentiments of devotion which are already cher- least witness on our part duties discharged with ished in all our hearts.

diligence, deliberations conducted with dignity, “ There may be differences of opinion as to and efforts honestly and earnestly made for the the powers which this Constitution confers upon peace, prosperity, and honor of the Republic. us; but the purposes for which it was created “I shall esteem it the highest privilege of my are inscribed upon its face in language which public life if I shall be permitted to contribute cannot be misconstrued. It was ordained and anything to these results by a faithful and imestablished to form a more perfect union, es- partial administration of the office which I have tablish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, pro now accepted.” vide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty The Speaker is not yet forty years of to ourselves and our posterity.'




presumed to have a “ Union, justice, domestic tranquillity, the lengthened career of usefulness yet before common defence, the general welfare, and the security of liberty for us and for those who him. We conclude this brief notice with shall come after us, are thus the great objects the expression of the hope, that his confor which we are to exercise whatever powers stituents may long ‘enjoy his services, and have been intrusted to us. And I hazard no- l open the way for him to higher distinction.

[blocks in formation]



“We, the People of the United States,” says came together in the legislative assembly, the preamble to the Constitution, “in order to

whether they were or were not citizens of form a more perfect union, establish justice, the districts for which they were chosen. insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the For the Congress is not merely a colleccommon defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves tion of business agents, assembled about and to our posterity, do ordain and establish matters of mere pecuniary interest. They this Constitution for the United States of bear a character of personal and social, America.

as well as of legal substitutes. Not for the “ All legislative powers herein granted, shall people in the abstract, as one man might be vested in a Congress of the United States, represent them, but the people in detail, which shall consist of a Senate and House of with all their various interests and feelings; Representatives."

which could only be represented by an The object of the Constitution was, assemblage of many men, sent from all then, to establish a government for the parts of the nation, and bearing with them whole people. “We, the People,” estab- the features and disposition of all the lished for ourselves a National government. parts. These substitutes were to combine The States were already established, and in themselves the characters of free repmaintained a separate existence; but it was resentatives and voluntary defenders of necessary that the whole people should be their own particular districts, as well as of represented, without reference to States; legislators for the whole. And this charotherwise, there might be an unstable acter, all good representatives have invaConfederacy, but no Nation—no Union.

riably borne. A representative government, of which It was not, then, merely to gratify a the members have the character of agents Democratic tendency, that the Constitution for the people, requires that the people established distributive elections, but to be, in some measure, acquainted with secure a more perfect and real representathe character of their representative agents. tion.

tion. If it were a matter of indifference It is necessary, for the perfect working whether members were elected by a genof the system, that the voter should be eral ticket, or by distributive elections, then informed, either immediately, or through it were a matter of equal indifference the general report, of the character of whether all came from one district, or one the men for whom he casts his vote. from every district—and whether the But this end could be attained only by number deputed were a thousand, an what our author calls “ distributive elec hundred, or only ten. Ten men from tions ;” each district choosing its own rep Georgia might be elected on a general resentative from among its own citizens. ticket to legislate for the whole Union, If there were any great names of a repu were Congress merely legislators for the tation extending over the whole Union, whole. The Constitution, therefore, in esthey would become the candidates for the tablishing the present system of elections, higher offices, and might have been elected contemplated not only the superior funcby a general ticket; but such a course tion of the national legislator, as such, would be impossible for the election of a but also his inferior and social relation, as great crowd of representative agents. Nor a representative of the interests, opinions, would it be a matter of indifference in

and even the passions and prejudices of the result, when the agents of the people | the people from amongst whom he comes.

* The chapter to which these remarks are introductory, is taken from an unpublished work upon the Science of the Laws, by H. W. Warner, Esq.

The reader will observe, in the follow- | policy respected, in all measures of admining argument, which we think a conclusive istration. But neither is this the kind of one, that the author has touched very light- sovereignty with which the laws are techly on the inferior member of his subject, nically conversant; being a sovereignty of namely, on the duties and relations of our position and estate, rather than of active national legislators in their merely repre-control; of circumstantial predominance, sentative capacity, but has restricted him- than of exerted authority. self to a development of the scientific idea Let us be more exact. The people's of a national legislator, elected, indeed, sovereignty under the Constitution is a by his district, and yet, under the Consti- power in the government as well as over tution, free to act and vote for what seems it; a power which the Constitution recogto him the good of the whole. -Ed. nizes and makes use of for its own ends in

the established organism of the State, Ours is an agency government, and there- giving it work to do, and in a fixed, unalfore of the kind denominated free; a gov- terable line of action ; in short, a strictly ernment, however, that is in theory as re- functionary power; as much so as the mote from pure democracy on the one power of the President, or of a Judge of hand as from pure monarchy on the other. the Supreme Court. The fathers called it republican; meaning It follows, that this sovereignty, bethereby to give it not simply a description sides being of a qualified nature, is but a name, and for the very purpose of also limited in extent. Nor is the measkeeping up this double discrimination. ure of it hard to take ; being just what It was not intended that the people should remains, of the whole mass of functionmanage it themselves ; and yet it was in- ary powers organic to our system, after detended to place it under a decisive popular ducting therefrom the powers devolved influence and control, by having the agents, upon government agents for the performwho were to be its managers, appointed by ance of their duties. The result is plain the general voice of the country for short enough. Those devolved powers are all terms; re-eligible afterwards, indeed, but administrative-appertaining to governonly upon condition of their being still ac ment in the ordinary meaning of the term ; ceptable to the people, who were to re-ap- that is to say, to the various offices of the point or dismiss them at pleasure by a new legislative, executive, and judicial departexpression of the same general voice. ments, familiar to every one's knowledge.

It will be well if we discriminate as the Such is the subtrahend of our arithmetical fathers did. There is danger that we may problem. What then must the people's not. The subject is too much declaimed remainder be?. What but the organizing upon to leave the lines of exact truth al- and visitatorial power of the ballot-boxways visible. The people are daily told the electoral sovereignty? without reserve, not only that they are Nor is this sovereignty original in the sovereigns, but that their sovereignty is people. No functionary power can be oldunlimited and unqualified. This is true in er than the organism it belongs to. Much a vague sense, but to a legal ear it is emi- is said about the “reserved rights ” of the nently false,

people, and in a connection to show that The thing may be looked at in vari- rights of power are meant. It is a deluous lights. In one, the people are above sion. How could rights of any sort bearthe Constitution itself ; for they can ing solely on the government, exist before pull down the glorious structure if they the government itself ? And if they did will, and either rebuild it afterwards, or not pre-exist, how could they be reserved, leave it in ruins. This however is not legal or kept back, when the government was sovereignty. In another view, the people formed? They necessarily took their date are above, not the Constitution, but the from that period. They were the very government organized under it; forasmuch creatures of the Constitution. And it was as they are the acknowledged proprietaries by the Constitution that they were first of the system, the parties in interest, to imparted to the popular electors. The whom everything belongs, and whose wel right of voting at political elections is truly fare is to be consulted, and their views of what it has been called, a franchise-an

emanation of power from the national foun functionary power, can be no larger than tain-head, descending thence upon those the power is. The people, in their capawho are to exercise it. To talk of a re- city of electors, may do all that is within served franchise, would be a positive sole- the proper scope of the franchise ; but it cism.

is usurpation to do more. Besides, if this electoral sovereignty had And this enables us to condemn without been a thing of original right in the peo- reserve an opinion strangely prevalent in ple, antecedent to the Constitution, it would some parts of the country, to the effect belong to every one—man, woman, child that when a man is chosen to an office, --so far at least as there is no want of and especially an office of legislation, it is discretion for the use of it ; whereas we the right of his constituents to have pledges do not find it so vested, only a portion- from him as to the measures he will advonot a third part probably, nor a fourth cate or oppose in public life ; and even to of the whole community being legal vo come upon him afterwards, during his ters; women and minors having none of term, with dictatorial instructions on the it; many adult male citizens having none subject. Nor are the holders of this opinof it, for lack of the requisite qualifications ion so inconsiderable, either in standing or of residence, property, tax-paying, and ability, as to allow of its being passed over the like. How is this? Are these unvo in silence. ting citizens disfranchised by the Constitu Upon what, then, do they ground themtion? Is it not more sensible to say, that selves? The notion seems to be, that an every franchise being a trust, or at least election is a delegation of power, and so, involving one, the electoral franchise has that a pledge exacted from the candidate been given to such only of the people as is but à condition annexed to a free gift; are deemed fit and competent trustees of in other words, that the electors being the so important a power, and qualified to use donors of the authority with which the it with advantage to the republic? Thus, man of their choice becomes thereupon instead of taking away anything from endowed, have a natural right to be served three-fourths of the community, the Con- with it in the way they think best. stitution simply imparts to the remaining .But here is certainly a misconception. fourth a right of its own creation, which The electors confer no power, not a partiwas never theirs before.

cle. How can they? They have none to And let me add, it does this, not for confer. Had they the power themselves, their sakes in particular, but for the equal they could exercise it. Otherwise it good of all without distinction. There is would not be power. As then they have no peculiar value in the privilege of de- it not, they cannot delegate or pass it over positing ballots in a box with a hole in it, to another. Suppose the elected officer the act alone considered ; nor have they should die suddenly, and a vacancy hapto whom the privilege is not conce

pen ; would his

fall back


the ded

any serious cause of present unhap- electors' hands ? No, for again, they could piness on that account. The only ques- make no use of it. Their right of suffrage tion of interest for them, as for others, is would indeed revive ; another congé d'élire upon the likelihood of results to the from the Constitution would put them country ; that is to say, whether the right into further action as its functionaries for of suffrage is distributed widely enough appointing a successor. This done, their among the people, on the one hand, to work is ended till new casualties make make the elections duly popular in the new room for it. But suppose, instead of spirit of them, and restrained, on the dying, the officer plays truant, and is guilty other, to a number sufficiently small and of malversation ; can his constituents inselect to make it probable that they will trude upon him and amend his doings? be conducted with reasonable intelligence No; culprit though he be, the office, so and prudence, so that upon the whole, long as he continues in it, is his, not theirs. the true advantages designed by this part When his term is up, to be sure, he may of the constitutional arrangement may be be called by them to a species of account. fairly hoped for from its plan of operation. But even that will not be in the way of

Of course the liberty that waits upon a l jurisdictional review ; for they can do

« AnteriorContinuar »