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The fourth proposition was twice read; and the words “ under the notion of” omitted, and the word “as” inserted in the stead of it; and the proposition thus amended, upon the question, agreed.
The fifth proposition was read twice, and, upon the question, agreed,
1. That it is an inherent right of every Commoner of England, to prepare and present petitions to the House of Commons, in case of grievance, and of the House of Commons to receive the same.
2. That it is the undoubted right and privilege of the House of Commons to judge and determine, touching the nature and matter of such petitions, how far they are fit or unfit to be retained.
3. That no court whatsoever hath power to judge or censure any petition prepared for, or presented to and received by, the House of Commons, unless transmitted from thence, or the matter is complained of by them.
4. That whereas a petition, by the Governor and Company of Merchants trading to the East Indies, was presented to the House of Commons by Sir Samuel Bernardiston and others, complaining of grievance therein, which the Lords have censured as a scandalous paper or libel; the said censure and proceedings of the Lords against the said Sir Samuel Bernardiston are contrary to, and in subversion of, the rights and privileges of the House of Commons, and liberties of the Commons of England.
5. That the continuance upon record of the judgment given by the Lords, and complained of by the House of Commons, in the last session of this Parliament, in the case of Thomas Skinner and the East India Company, is prejudi. cial to the rights of the Commons of England.
Resolved, That the committee formally appointed to draw up reasons to be used at the conference with the Lords, be revived, and do sit this afternoon, and prepare reasons and arguments to justify the propositions agreed to, and prepare and propose what is fit to be offered or desired of the Lords; and that these members following be added to said committee, namely: Sir Walter Gouge, Mr. Seymour, &c.
Die Veneris, 10° Decembris, 1669. Sir Robert Howard reports from the Committee to which it was referred, to prepare and draw up reasons to be used at the conference with the Lords, in the matter of the East India Company and Skinner and Sir Samuel Bernardiston, to justify the resolves of this House ; and also two propositions thereupon to be made to the Lords, which he read, and after delivered the same in at the Clerk's table ; and the same being twice read, and with some amendment, upon the question, agreed, are as followeth :
To the first, second, and third, depending on one another :
1. It hath been always, time out of mind, the constant and uncontroverted usage and custom of the House of Commons to have petitions presented to them from Commoners, in case of grievance, public or private : in evidence whereof, it is one of the first works that is done by the House of Commons to appoint a Grand Committee to receive petitions and informations of grievances.
2. That in no age that we can find, ever any person, who presented any grievance, by way of petition, to the House of Commons, which was received by them, was ever censured by the Lords without complaint of the Commons.
3. That no suitors for justice, in any inferior court whatsoever, in law or equity, exhibiting their complaint for any matters proper to be proceeded upon in that court, are therefore punishable criminally, though untrue, or suable by way of action in any other court wheresoever; but are only subject to a moderate fine or amercement by that court; unless in some cases specially provided for by act of Parliament, as appeals, or the like.
4. In case men should be punishable in other courts for preparing and presenting petitions for redress of grievances to the House of Commons, it may discourage and deter His Majesty's subjects from seeking redress of their grievances, and by that means frustrate the main and principal end for which Parliaments were ordained.
To the fourth proposition :
1. That no petition, nor any other matter depending in the House of Commons, can be taken notice of by the Lords without breach of privilege, unless communicated by the House of Commons.
2. Upon conclusion of the four first propositions, it is further to be alleged that the House of Peers (as well as all other courts) are, in all their judicial proceedings, to be guided and limited by law; but if they should give a wrong sentence, contrary to law, and the party grieved might not seek redress thereof in full Parliament, and to that end repair to the House of Commons, who are part of the legislative power, that either they may interpose with their Lordships for the reversal of such sentence, or prepare a bill for that purpose, and for the preventing the like grievance for the time to come
the consequence thereof would plainly be, both that their Lordship’s judicature would be boundless, and above law, and that the party grieved should be without remedy.
As to the fifth proposition: The Committee refer to the former reasons offered against the judgment of the Lords against the East India Company, in the last session of Parliament.
THE OREGON QUESTION
THE TREATY OF WASHINGTON.
A SPEECH DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNI
TED STATES, IN COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE ON THE STATE OF THE UNION, MARCH 18, 1844.
I have no purpose, Mr. Chairman, of attempting a detailed reply to the honorable gentleman who has just taken his seat. I was greatly in hopes that another member of this House, and I will add, another member of the Massachusetts delegation, who has so often instructed and delighted us on these questions of foreign controversy, (Mr. J. Q. Adams,) would have taken the floor for this purpose. I would gladly yield it to him, or, indeed, to any one else who is disposed for it, feeling, as I deeply do, the want of greater preparation and longer reflection for doing justice to the occasion. I am unwilling, however, that the speech which has just been delivered should pass off without some notice. I fear, too, that if I yield to the kind suggestion of a friend near me, and ask a postponement of the debate, I may lose an opportunity altogether. Recent proceedings in this House afford me very little encouragement to try such an experiment. On more than one occasion, questions of the highest interest and importance seem to have been brought up unexpectedly, as this has been, for the purpose of allowing some member of the majority of the House to deliver an elaborate exposition of his views, and then to have been shuffled off again by the previous question, or by a motion to lay on the table, before any member of the minority could open his lips in reply. I proceed, therefore, to make the best of the opportunity which is now secured to me.
And, in the first place, let me say a word in regard to the sectional character which has been given to this subject. It has been often said that the question about Oregon is a Western question, and a disposition has been manifested to charge hostility to Western interests and Western rights upon all who are not ready to draw the sword, without further delay, in defence of this Territory. I deny this position altogether. It is a national question. It is a question for the whole country. The North have as much interest in it as the West, and as much right to be heard upon it; indeed, there are some views in which it is more a Northern than a Western question. I cannot forget that the American claim to Oregon, so far as it rests upon discovery, dates back to Massachusetts adventure and Boston enterprise. It was a Boston ship which gave its name to the Columbia River. It was Captain Robert Gray, of Boston, who first discovered that river. It was the Hancock and the Adams of Massachusetts — the proscribed patriots of the Revolution whose names were inscribed on those remote capes. And if we turn from the early history of Oregon to its present importance, and to the immediate interests which are involved in its possession, the North will be found no less prominently concerned in the question. The great present value of this Territory has relation to the commerce and navigation of the Pacific Ocean. The whale fishery of this country requires safe stations and harbors on the northwest coast. And by what part of the nation is this fishery carried on? Why, Sir, the State of Massachusetts owns nine tenths of all the whale ships of the United States. The single town of New Bedford, — the residence of my honorable friend, Mr. Grinnell, -sends out 92,000, out of a little more than 130,000 tons of the American shipping employed in this business; and three other towns in the same district employ 31,170 tons of the remainder. So far, then, as the whaling interest is to be regarded, the Oregon question is emphatically a Massachusetts question. I feel bound to add, however, that the whole coast of Oregon can hardly furnish one really good harbor. South of the forty-ninth degree of latitude,
a boundary which we have once offered to compromise upon, there is not one which a ship can get safely into, or safely out of, during three quarters of the year. The harbor of San Francisco, in Northern California, would be worth the whole Territory of Oregon to the whaling fleet of the nation.
A mere Western interest! Sir, I doubt whether the West has a particle of real interest in the possession of Oregon. It may have an interest, a momentary, seeming, delusive interest in a war for Oregon. Doubtless, the Western States might reap a rich harvest of spoils in the prosecution of such a war. Doubtless, there would be fat contracts of all sorts growing out of such a contest, which would enure to their peculiar advantage. Doubtless, the characteristic spirit of the western people — that spirit of restless adventure, and roving enterprise, and daring conflict, which the honorable gentleman has just eulogized — would find ample room and verge enough for its indulgence, even to satiety, in such a campaign. Whether that spirit, indomitable as it is in any ordinary encounter, would not be found stumbling upon the dark mountains, or fainting in the dreary valleys, or quenched beneath the perpetual snows which Nature has opposed to the passage to this disputed territory, remains to be seen. A march to Oregon, I am inclined to believe, would take the courage out of not a few who now believe themselves incapable of fatigue or fear. But suppose the war were over, successfully over, and Oregon ours, what interest, let me ask, what real, substantial, permanent interest would the West have in its possession ? Are our western brethren straitened for elbow room, or likely to be so for a thousand years? Have they not too much land for their own advantage already? I verily believe that if land were only half as abundant and half as cheap as it is, the prosperity of the West would be doubled. As an Eastern representative I would never submit a proposition to raise the price of the public lands; such a proposition would be misconstrued and perverted. But if I were a Western man, I would ask nothing sooner, I would desire nothing more earnestly of this Government, than to double the price of these lands. It would put money into the pocket of every Western farmer, and into the coffers of every Western State. Sale for the purpose of settlement would not