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Alien and Sedition Laws.

[H. OF R. relate chiefly as to the manner of putting the the citizens of the United States who had not read question, two of the States, viz: Delaware and the Constitution, or whether, in his opinion, there Kentucky, being at present unrepresented, at were any parts of the Union in which it had not length it was determined that the sense of the been promulgated ? His colleague, in justificaHouse should be taken on 14, and when the Re- tion of his having moved for a further promulgapresentatives of those two Siates arrived, a mo- tion of two laws passed in the last session of Contion might be made to increase the committee to gress, had stated, as facts of his own knowledge, sixteen, and the SPEAKER would, of course, select that, in certain parts of the Union, where discona member from each of those Siates.

tents had been manifested, and where resolutions The question on having the committee consist had been entered into censuring the alien and seof fourteen members was accordingly put, when dition laws, that discontents had been generated there appeared to be 34 votes in favor of it, and by* misrepresentation of the provisions of these 34 against it. The SPEAKER declaring himself in laws; that resolutions censuring them as unconthe negative, the question was not carried. stitutional had been procured, not by circulating

The sense of the House was then taken on and promulgating what were the laws of the land, nine, and it was carried-yeas 35,

but by distributing and publishing copies of two Ordered. That Mr. HARPER, Mr. Gallatin, bills which had been projected in the Senate, and Mr. NATBANIEL SMITH, Mr. CochrAN, Mr. Jones, which did not pass either House of Congress, and Mr. Isaac PARKER, Mr. HINDMAN, Mr. Blount, which were very dissimilar to the existing laws. and Mr. SINNICKSON, be appointed a committee, With the knowledge of these facts, it might be proper pursuant to the said resolution.

for the National Legislature to order an additional ALIEN AND SEDITION LAWS.

publication of the sedition and alien laws, for the

purpose of diffusing a knowledge of them, and reThe House having again taken up Mr. HAR- moving those errors and prejudices which had PER's proposition for printing 20,000 copies of the been created by false copies and gross misrepreabove laws, to be distributed gratis throughout sentations. Búl why these laws were to have the United States.

annexed to them certain parts of the Constitution, Mr. Dawson said, when the subject was the which the opposers of the laws in question had other day before the House, he declared that he declared were violated by them, he could not unhad no objection to the resolution, as it had ever derstand, unless there were parts of the United been his wish to give the fullest information to States where the Constitution was not to be prohis constituents—nay, he was disposed to favor cured; if the gentleman from Virginia would deil though from reasons, he believed, different from clare that to be the case, he would vote for the those which actuated the mover of it, as he doubt, amendment, but he would not vote for it when ed not a thorough knowledge of these laws would intended (as he believed it to be) as “an appeal insure their repeal. But he then and now thought to the people ;” that measure had been abandoned that it was prematurely brought forward ; that in the country, where it had its origin, and where gentleman might have waited, at least, until the its practice had been marked by every species of fare of an intended proposition for the repeal of disorder, and he was not disposed to adopt this these laws was known ; especially when it is re- popular measure. collected that no effect can be produced by the Mr. R. said, it was not to be wondered at that, measure during the present session. It was un- in some parts of the Union, ebullitions of disconde: this idea that he had moved for a postpone- tent had occurred, when the invitations were rement of the decision; but, as that motion was membered which accompanied the sedition bill to Degatired, he presumed it was the pleasure of the the people to resist it. Certain gentlemen had House to act upon the resolution at present, and, declared it unconstitutional, and expressed their therefore, he wished to make the information as wish that the people would resist its execution ; complete as possible. He would move to have our constituents had been told by them that, to printed, with these laws, all the parts of the Con- rebel against this law which invaded their Constistitution which appeared to him to relate to the tutional rights, was a duty they owed their counsubject, as well those which may be supposed try. When he recollected these attempts to agitto give the power to Congress, as those which ate the country, he was surprised that our citiprobibit the exercise of it. If he had omitted any, zens had discovered so much patience, wisdom, be should readily agree to their insertion. Mr. and good sense, as they had by their ready acquiD. then moved to add the following:

escence in the execution of the laws, which many * And the eighth section, and the first and second members of Congress had been active in repreclauses of the ninth section of the first article ; the first senting to be unconstitutional. They had, howsection, and the third clause of the second section of ever, after a very learned debate, and persevering the third article of the Constitution of the United States ; opposition, been deemed Constitutional by majorand the third, seventh, eighth, eleventh, and twelfth ities in both Houses of Congress. The Judges, articles of amendment which now form a part of the said who had acted under them, had declared them to Constitution."

be perfectly Constitutional, and he was not disMr. RUTLEDGE said, as he wished to have a posed to make an appeal to the people," to know correct understanding of the intention of the whether they deemed them Constitutional; but if mover of the amendment, he wished to be inform- any gentleman would declare that there was a ed whether he believed there was any portion of difficulty in any part of the country in obtaining

H. OF R.]

Alien and Sedition Laws.

[DECEMBER, 1798.

copies of the Constitution, he would have no ob- man; but he believed the unconstitutionality of jection to voting the distribution of a necessary these laws is what is most complained of; and number. He suspected, however, that this was this was the principal reason why their passage not precisely the object of the amendment. was so warmly opposed in this House. He was

Mr. Harper desired to pass by the extreme fu- of opinion, therefore, if the laws were sent out to tility of publishing to the people, at this day, parts the people, these parts of the Constitution ought to of a Constitution which had been in force ten go too, but he saw no occasion for either. years, and the excessive futility of such an idea ; Mr. Harper said, he did not particularly allude but he would say that, if the gentleman would to Virginia ; nor did he mention any place, until extend his amendment to the whole of the Con- he was called upon to do so. He spoke of the stitution, his motion would be better deserving of Southern States generally, and particularly of his consideration. For, if these extracts which he own State. He did, however. believe that these proposes were published, who can tell that the gen. laws are as much misunderstood in Virginia, as tleman himself might not inform his constituents anywhere. that they were not true extracts. If it were thought Mr. Sprigg observed, that the gentleman first that the people want information with respect to up from South Carolina, had said that, if any genan instrument to which they have so frequently tleman would state to the House that his constilexpressed their attachment, let the whole be uents are not in full possession of the Constitution printed. He would not object to the printing of and the amendments which have been added to it, 50,000 or even of 500,000 of them. But what he should think the present amendment necessary. would the gentleman have thought of me, if, in- He would mention a circumstance which took stead of printing the whole of the laws in ques- place at a public meeting, held for an electioneertion, I had proposed to make extracts from them ? ing purpose, in his district, which ought to conHe would certainly have treated the subject with vince him that, at least, the amendments to the laughter, instead of argument. Indeed, he thought Constitution are not generally known. One of the making of a proposition like the present, was these acts was spoken of at this meeting as untrifling, and sporting with what ought to be held constitutional; when a gentleman of great resacred- the laws of the land.

spectability (if property can make a man so) held Mr. Dawson did not think the gentleman from in his hand ihe Constitution of the United States, South Carolina (Mr. RUTLEDGE) had treated him to support the opposite opinion ; and when he was with candor. He ought to have recollected that referred to one of the amendments, as materially the original proposition did not come from him ; affected, he said, that amendment was not to be that he had moved a postponement of it ; that he found in his Constitution, nor had he ever heard had proposed to add to it, not only those parts of any amendments being added to the Constituof the Constitution which militate, in his opinion, tion. against the laws, but those said to be in favor of Mr. GORDON said, the original motion was only them. For his own part, he did not believe that supportable from the nature of the laws and the the people of the United States are so ignorant period of their duration. If promulged only in the with respect to these laws as they had heen rep- usual way, they would scarcely be known before resented; but if it were thought necessary to make they expired, and he was therefore in favor of this the proposed publication of them, he was. con- extraordinary publication ; for one, if not both of vinced it was full as necessary to print the parts the laws, was to continue in force only two years. of the Constitution which he had proposed. The laws intended to be permanent, he believed,

Mr. S. Smith understood that the ground upon were sufficiently known by the ordinary mode of which the gentleman from South Carolina had publication. brought forward his motion, was to remove cer- But, said he, we are now called upon to circutain misrepresentations which had been made of late sundry parts of the Constitution. Upon what these laws. He alluded particularly, as he thought, principle is this founded? Could it be supposed to the State of Virginia. For his own part, he be-ihat gentlemen would agree in any selection of lieved that State, as well, perhaps better informed, passages from the Constitution ? It could not; with respect to these laws, than any State in the every one would wish to have such parts printed Union, for they are made there the criterion of as favored his own opinions. But, what was the their elections. They are, therefore, everywhere object of the selection? To enable the people to read and discussed pro and con. What, said Mr. decide whether these laws are Constitutional or S., is the misrepresentation of these laws com- not. What would be the consequence ? A mob, plained of? They are represented as unnecessary or large collection of people, will be brought toand unconstitutional. Will the simple publication gether to decide this question. The consequence of these laws do away this opinion ? Certainly seems to be this, that if they determine them to not; because, when the people read the laws, they be unconstitutional, they will also determine to will not have the Constitution lo compare with oppose their execution. Gentlemen surely do not them.

contemplate such an effect as this; and, if not, Mr. Harper interrupted Mr. S., to deny that they ought not to be desirous of calling the attenhe had said this was the ground of complaint, but tion of the people to these laws in the way prothat the provisions of the law are misunderstood, posed. Gentlemen had said, that these laws were and that their contents are not correctly known. made the touchstone at eleetions in a certain quar

Mr. S. Smith said, he understood the gentle- ter of the Union; if so, it would certainly be im

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DECEMBER, 1798.]
Alien and Sedition Laws.

[H. OF R. poper in this House to send out anything which was that object ? It was to circulate information might affect those elections, by declaring men of respecting these laws, because, for want of it, the a certain opinion friendly, and those of an oppo- minds of the people had been fermented by misinsite opinion, unfriendly to the Constitution. *In- formation. But, permit me, said Mr. C., to tell deed, he saw no ground upon which the proposed that gentleman that the parts of the country to publication of parts of the Constitution could be which his observations apply, are not misinformed cunded. The Constitution itself, he believed, is as to the contents of these laws. In Kentucky, he in the hands of almost every citizen. He should had been informed, they had been circulated in the Nusb for his constituents, many of whom have form of handbills, and that there are few persons sworn to support it, did he suppose that any con- who could not produce a copy of them; but, he siderable number of them were unacquainted with believed that few persons, comparatively, possessthe whole of its contents. He hoped, therefore, ed copies of the Constitution as amended. The the motion would be negatived.

expediency of these laws, he said, had been a secMr. Eggleston rose to move a postponement ondary consideration with the people; their priof this question. Being a new member, and un- mary objection to them is, that they are violations ised to speak in public assemblies, it was with of the Constitution. And, if the people have been Teluctance that he offered his sentiments. But the misled as to this point, and not as to the details of Dotion which he proposed was founded on the the laws, this amendment must be conceded to be idea that an attempt would be hereafter made to proper. Mr. C. said he should be glad to take any repeal these laws, which, he trusted, would be suc- step which might be calculated to allay the prescessful. He was unwilling, therefore, that the ent fermentation of the public mind with respect minds of the people, which are in many parts of to these laws, which he believed existed in an be Union. (he knew it was the case in the district alarming degree in certain parts of the Union. If from whence he came.) already sufficiently irri- a publication of the Constitution would do it, it sated, should be wounded unnecessarily by a mea- would be well. At any rate, it would have no bad sure of this kind, which would be wholly useless. effect; for if these laws are Constitutional, and f a repeal takes place. And, he trusted, if these the gentleman from South Carolina says the afs should appear neither called for by the exi- Judges have declared them so, this publication geveies of the times, nor warranted by the Consti- may convince the people of their error, and disilica, a majority of Congress would not insist in appoint those, if such there be, who wish to miscatsuing them in force merely to show their lead them. It was his wish that the General power or their infallibility.

Government should receive, and he hoped it The SPEAKER said, he was sorry to interrupt a would receive from the people, all the respect to per member, but he was under the necessity of which it is entitled. glorming him that he was departing from order. Mr. Thatcher agreed with the gentleman who Mr. EGGLESTON said he meant to show by his had just sat down, ihat the people in the Westbservations the propriety of a postponement. ern country were greatly misinformed; but he did The Speaker replied that they were wholly out not believe it was either with respect to the Conof order, as no member could answer any obser- stitution or the laws, but on moral subjects. rations upon the merits of the laws, all remarks The SPEAKER said, no remark of this kind could must be confined to the proposed extra publica- possibly be in order.

Mr. Thatcher said he was about to state facts, Nr. EGGLESTON saying he wished to comply from which he meant to draw an argument against with the rules of the House, sat down.

the publication of the Constitution. If any conMr. NICHOLAS seconding the inotion for a post- clusion could be drawn from the speeches of their prnement, it was put and negatived, there being Governors, and Legislators, and public meetings, only 25 votes for it.

it is evident they are misinformed, and in a state Mr. Dawson said, from what had fallen from of ignorance, not of the Constitution or of the the gentleman from South Carolina, (Mr. HAR- laws in question, as, when they quote either, they PIR.) and others, he was induced to withdraw his quote them correctly. These speeches and resomotion, and to move the following addition to the lutions have appeared in newspapers in the hands criginal motion : “ And the Constitution of the of their clerks and agents. It was not political Caited States as now amended."

information which these people were in want of, Mr.W.CLAIBORNE hoped that this amendment but moral information, correct habits, and regular would be agreed to. It would be diffusing among fixed characters. the people information highly important, and in- Mr. Nicholas inquired whether the gentleman formation of which they at present stood in need. was in order ? He would undertake to say, that the people whom The SPEAKER replied, that very many of his be represented wanted this information; and he remarks were not in order. believed it was generally wanted throughout the Mr. THATCHER, after a few other observations Western country, as the Constitution, and espe- on the people's want of moral information, took cially the amendments which have been added to his seat. it bàs not been so generally circulated as he could Mr. Clopron called for the yeas and nays on hare wished; and, except this amendment suc- this question, which were agreed to be taken. teeds, the alleged object of the mover of the origi- Mr. Gallatin did not know that there was any nal proposition, would not be answered. What great necessity for publishing the Constitution in

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H. of R.]

Alien and Sedition Laws.

[DECEMBER, 1798.

the manner proposed ; but this he was convinced ers. But this gentleman had made use of an exof, that there was as much necessity for the pro- pression which he certainly had not sufficiently posed amendment as for the original resolution; attended to. Speaking of the meetings, or assemand that, therefore, if the resolution was adopted, blies of the people, which had been held in differthe amendment ought to be adopted also. ent parts of the United States on the subject of

It had been said, by gentlemen who seem in these laws, he made use of the word "mob." He favor of printing these two laws and not the Con called these assemblies of the people “a mob.” stitution, that the laws are not known; but that this he conceived improper, and especially at the Constitution is known. He believed those this time, when it is known that not only respectgentlemen lie under a mistake. The laws have able meetings of the people have been held to conbeen published again and again in every part of sider these laws, but that the Legislatures of some the Union, whereas the Constitution, as amended, States have taken up the subject. has never been published and promulgated. The Upon the observations of the gentleman from original Constitution had, indeed, been published, Massachusetts, (Mr. Thatcher) he would make and is generally in the hands of the people; but, no remark. They appeared too frivolous to merit as to the amendments, many persons do not know any. So far as they went, they were as forcible how many of them have become a part of that against the proposition as the amendment. instrument. Nor can it be ascertained anywhere, Mr. Craik said, as a gentleman from Virginia except in one edition of the laws, it is added by had called the yeas and nays upon the present way of note, that ten of the amendments now form question, he wished to state his reasons for voting a part of the Constitution. Can it be surprising against this amendment. If any gentleman would that the people at large should be uninformed as declare his constituents in want of information to this point, when only two years ago, a commit- with respect to the Constitution, and, after the tee of this House, to whom the subject was refer- proposition for printing these laws shall have been red, reported it, as their opinion, that no part of decided, bring forward a substantive, distinct prothese amendments were become a part of the Con- position, he would vote in favor of it. He could stitution, three-fourths of all the States not having not allow the State from which he came, howconcurred in them? It was true their report was ever, lo lie under the imputation of ignorance, reversed; but when Congress itself has so lately with respect to the Constitution, which had been determined these amendments to be a part of the cast upon it, by voting for the present amendment. Constitution, it is not strange that 'the people He hoped the instance which his colleague had should not be well informed on the subject. It mentioned was a solitary one. Nor could he agree may be said these arguments apply only to the to publish these laws and the Constitution by way amendments, but as no one could produce a publi- of calling the attention of the people to them. cation of the Constitution as amended, he wished He was sorry the original proposition had been it now, for the first time, to be published.

made. He did not think any act of Congress Have any objections been offered to this propo- ought to he published more than others. The sition which ought to have any weight?' The laws were supposed to be sufficiently promulgated gentleman from South Carolina, who was first to the people ; if not, means ought to be adopted up, complained that a publication of this kind for the purpose. would be an appeal to the people. He did not The SPEAKER said, these observations were precisely understand what he meant; but if a against the resolution generally, and not the amendpublication of the Constitution can be called an ment. appeal to the people, what will the gentleman Mr. Craik wished these acts to be placed on term the proposed extra publication of the laws the same ground with all other acts, and not supin question ? Has it been said that this promul- posed to be particularly obnoxious to the people. gation of the laws is necessary, in order to secure He should, therefore, vote against both the amendthe people against prosecutions under them? Is ment and the original proposition. this the object of the publication ? No; the avow- Mr. J. Williams was opposed to this amend. ed object is, to convince the people the laws are ment. If the amendments to the Constitution had good and expedient; which, being an appeal to not been sufficiently published, they ought to be the people, ought to be accompanied with the so. It was derogatory to this House to suppose Constitution.

this to be the fact. In the State which he repreAnother gentleman, from New Hampshire, has sented, the town clerk of every town had the laws made use of a most extraordinary argument. He of the United States put into his hand. He had says the publication is necessary, because the laws hoped every State had done the same. When this expire in two years; but he was at a loss to know resolution was first brought forward, it was on the by what kind of logic he makes it more necessary ground that the newspapers did not give sufficient to publish a law in an extraordinary manner information on the subject, and it was on this which has only an existence of two years, than a ground that he proposed to vote in favor of the law permanent in its nature, and especially than proposition ; but he could not consent at this day the Constitution itself. Does he think the Con- to publish again either the whole or parts of the stitution should be disregarded, or set aside for two Constitution. years, on account of these laws? This observa- Mr. HARTLEY was sorry the original motion tion did not fall from him, who was always op- was made by the gentleman from South Carolina. posed to these laws, but from one of their support. It is well known, said Mr. H., that some parts of


DECEMBER, 1798.)
Alien and Sedition Laws.

[H. OF R. the Union are at present much agitated by these be considered and obeyed as Constitutional and laws. If any mischief had been done by misrep- proper. resentation, that time was now passed; it was Mr. Thatcher said it appeared to him that the done before the laws were made public;

they have ground of this motion had been put upon a wrong Bow been pretty generally published. The Secre- footing. It seemed as if the object was to enable tary of State is employed to distribute the laws of the people to determine whether the laws in quesCongress in the several States, and if the laws of tion are Constitutional or not; whereas the object the last session have not reached them, they soon is to inform the people of the contents of these laws, will. He believed the bill which had been first in- that, knowing them, they may not offend against troduced into the Senate, had done much mis- them. When a tax was laid upon carriages, chief ; but he had no doubt these laws would be which a certain part of the Union conceived to sufficiently circulated to do away any misinform- be unconstitutional, they brought the question beation, without the proposed extra publication. He fore the Judiciary, and when the law was there boped neither the amendment nor the original determined to be Constitutional, it was acquiesced preposition would be agreed to

in. Where would be the use of sending out the The question on printing the Constitution, along Constitution with these laws, for the purpose of with the laws, was taken by yeas and nays, and examination by the people ? For, if they were to stood-yeas 35, nays 41, as follows:

determine them unconstitutional, they would, neY5As—Abraham Baldwin, David Bard, Thomas vertheless, be liable to prosecution for a breach of Blant

, Robert Brown, William C. C. Claiborne, John them. He hoped the question would be thus unClapton, John Dawson, George Dent, Joseph Eggles- derstood. ton, Lucas Elmendorf, Albert Gallatin, Andrew Gregg, Mr. Josiah PARKER thought this proposition Robert Goodloe Harper, Carter B. Harrison, Jonathan yet capable of amendment. It has been agreed 5. Havens, Joseph Heister, David Holmes, Walter that the Constitution is well understood, and that Jones, Matthew Locke, James Machir, Nathaniel Ma- these laws are also pretty generally known; but, con, William Matthews, Blair McClenachan, Anthony as the amendments io the Constitution, it is acNes, John Nicholas, Josiah Parker, Samuel Smith, Wil- knowledged, bave not been sufficiently promulgaham Smith, Richard Dobbs Spaight, Richard Sprigg, ted, he should propose to amend the resolution by Richard Stanford, Abram Trigg, John Trigg, Joseph B. adding to it the amendments of the Constitution Varnum, and Abraham Venable.

Nars-Bailey Bartlett, Jonathan Brace, David agreed to in the year 1789. Mr. P. said he had, Brooks, John Chapman, Jas. Cochran, William Craik, the Constitution as amended, with the two laws;

in the first instance, voted for the publication of Samoe! W. Dana, John Dennis, William Edmond, Thomas Evans, Abiel Foster, Dwight Foster, Jonathan as it might have given satisfaction io some, though Freeman, Henry Glen, Chauncey Goodrich, William he believed the great mass of the people did not Gordon, John A. Hanna, Thomas Hartley, William stand in need of another edition of the original Hindman, Hezekiah L. Hosmer, James H. Imlay, Lewis Constitution. He had voted against publishing R. Morris, Harrison G. Otis, Isaac Parker, Thomas extracts from that instrument, because he thought Pinckney, John Reed, John Rutledge, jr., James Schure- it unfair to publish it in parts; but, as these man, Samuel Sewall

, William Shepard, Thomas Sin- amendments are little known, he wished to see rickson, Nathaniel Smith, Peleg Sprague, Geo. Thatch- them published. er, Richard Thomas, Thomas Tillinghast, John E. Van Mr. Hartley observed, if the people of this Alen, Peleg Wadsworth, Robert Waln, and John Wil- country are not acquainted with the amendments

which have been made to the Constitution, the The original proposition being now under con- subject can be acted upon at any time; but he sideration,

hoped neither the original proposition nor this Mr. Nicholas said, lest it should be understood amendment would be agreed to. The publication that those members who were in favor of publish- will imply that our conduct has not been what it ing the Constitution, or such parts of it as are con- ought to have been, by our calling for an extraorDected with the subject, were opposed to the origi- dinary examination of'it. If the subject was sepasal resolution, he must, unwillingly, trouble the rately brought forward, he would not object to the House with another call for the yeas and nays on publication of the amendments to the Constitution. this question. Agreed to.

The question on adding the amendments of the Mr. SPRAGUE professed himself opposed to the Constitution was then taken by yeas and nays, and resolution entirely, as unsusceptible of amend. decided in the negative—45 to 32, as follows: ment, and wholly useless. He believed the laws

YEAS—Abraham Baldwin, David Bard, Thomas which it proposed to have printed, had been more Blount, William Charles Cole Claiborne, John Clopton, read, and are better understood, than any other John Dawson, George Dent, Joseph Eggleston, Lucas laws of the United States. At any rate, having Elmendorf, Albert Gallatin, Andrew Gregg, Carter B. been published in the usual and ordinary mode, he Harrison, Jonathan N. Havens, Joseph Heister, David was not willing to give his consent to any special Holmes, Walter Jones, Matthew Locke, Nathaniel Mapublication of them; for, if asked why it had been con, Blair McClenachan, Anthony New, John Nicholas, done, he could not give any good reason for it. If Josiah Parker, Samuel Smith, William Smith, Richard any priociple, said he is more fixed in a Republic Dobbs Spaight, Richard Sprigg, Richard Stanford, can Government than another, it is that majorities Abram Trigg, John Trigg, Philip Van Cortlandt, Joooght always to govern; and these laws having seph B. Varnum, and Abraham Venable. been passed by a majority of Congress, they must Nars-Jonathan Brace, Robert Brown, Christopher

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