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H. OF R.]
Usurpation of Executive Authority.

[JANUARY, 1799. the motion made by the gentleman from Massa- used to mean a few individuals, a club, or a small chusetts, by the decision upon which it appears section of the people. It is clear that an indivithat gentlemen are more willing to leave the peo- dual taking upon himself a power which has ple at large to execute this power of negotiation, already been delegated to a constituted authority, ihan suffer the President to exercise it without usurps that authority, and if he has ever taken an the concurrence of the Senate. And, proceeding oath to support the Constitution, he violates that still further, the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. oath.

Dawson) moved an amendmeni, subjecting the The gentleman from Virginia, in addition to · President to the penalties of this law, if he should his remarks, had made a general charge against

employ any agent to negotiate without having the friends of this bill, by declaring it to be bis first consulted the Senate. The gentleman from opinion that they had brought it forward for the Virginia voted for this amendment, after the Vice purpose of exciting clamor against their political President had been added to it.

opponents, that they might the better effect their But, said Mr. D., what does all that we hear purpose of getting the country involved in war. about peace-makers mean? Who are these peace- He had thought this cant of “war” had been out makers, and what is this peace they want? What of date; that by this time there was no American is this blessing? Is it to act in concert with the who would not rather submit to the evils of war views of their own Government, or in hostility to than submit to the payment of French tribute to it? If this man chose to hazard his reputation by French artifice, and French usurpation. Let this species of public knight errantry, by attempt them have war, said Mr. D., if they want it; we ing to do what had been in vain attempted by his will neither shrink from it, por court it. Government, why did he not apply to the Execu- But the gentleman says there is a general distive, and say to him, "I am ardently desirous of position for war in a majority of this House; and, preserving the country in peace; I wish to consult in order to support this opinion, he has had reyou before I set out for France, to see if I cannot course to a poetical work, which has lately made induce a change in the measures of that Govern- its appearance in the State from which he (Mr. ment. Give me your passport.” Where was the D.) came. But he complained that the gentledifficulty in doing this ? None, except that in man from Virginia had not stated the authority that case he would have gone by the permission fairly. He ought first to have stated, that for a of Government, and that did not accord with his long time before the despatches were received from views. His object was not, according to the gen- our Envoys in France, many gentlemen in this tleman from Virginia, (Mr. Nicholas,) to make House were found to be the constant apologists for a peace which should be agreeable to our Execu- the conduct of France, whilethe Federalists were as tive—it was to force the Executive to make a steady in condemning their conduct as infamous. peace. This was the language of the gentleman In this state of things the despatches were refrom Virginia. How force the Executive ? Does ceived and communicated to the House with an individual wield the sword of war, that he can closed doors. This poem attempts to describe the compel the Government? Or will be make them scene which then took place :ashamed of their conduct? Or is he the instru

Long had our Ministers of Peace, ment of a hidd power in this country, or of a The insults borne of Gallia's race ; foreign Government, whose force our Govern- At length, the Envoys deign to tell u8, ment cannot withstand ? Or is it by another They had to deal with scurvy fellows, mode-which, indeed, is the most probable-by With Autun and the five-head Beast, seducing the public opinion ; by undermining the And half the Alphabet at least. public confidence, on which our Government rests The budget op'd, in Congress, show'd for all its energies? Because any man who knows The whole contrivance of the brood, anything of our Constitution, also knows that the And that their heads were bent on brewing Government of the United States must render Subjection, infamy, and ruin. homage to public opinion; that it cannot, and

While joy each Federal feature crown'd, ought not to be disregarded.

And triumph glow'd the Hall around; But what is this public opinion? It is the fair

Each Jacobin began to stir, result of the sense of the people at large, when the

And sate, as tho' on chestnut burr. truth is fairly known, when falsehood' has been

Up the long space from chin to forehead,

Sate every feature of the horrid ; discarded, and misrepresentation discountenanced;

Their moon-ey'd leaders stood like beacons, and not when the public mind is disturbed, when

Or as a drove of Satan's Deacons, suspicions and hatred have been kindled against

When from the burning lake, in ire, our Government. It is this we have to fear, and

They sat their feet on solid fire, this is the danger most to be dreaded.

To find if war or sly pollution And what, exclaimed Mr. D., is this claim in Could raise in Heaven a revolution." favor of an officious individual? Have not the people delegated the power of negotiating to the

Mr. D. appealed to the House for the truth of President? Why, then, shall a patriot, a friend

the representation, and apologized for having taof the people, usurp it? No phrase, said Mr. D., ken up their time by introducing a work of this is more abused than this phrase of "the people.” As used in the Constitution, no man could pay * The lines printed in italic were read by Mr. Nichomore respect to it than he; but not when it is Mr. Dana read the whole as here given.



JANDARY, 1799.

Usurpation of E.recutive Authority.

[H. of R.

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kind; but he had thought it necessary, in order to it must appear to the satisfaction of the jury, that correct the statement given by the gentleman the act of killing was not only done, but done from Virginia.

with a mischievous and criminal intent; and the Mr. HARRISON hoped this bill would be recom- accused party may acquit himself by showing, mitted. He said he was as much disposed as any from attending circumstances, that he had no gentleman within these walls, to punish any usur- such intent. So if a person were indicted under pation of Executive rights, and if the bill could be this act for carrying on a correspondence with a so defined as not to punish the innocent with the foreign Government, he might acquit himself by guilty

, he would vote for it, as wherever power is showing, from all the circumstances of his condelegated there he wished it to remain until re- duct, that he did not carry it on with any of the Foked. As it now stands, however, he apprehend- criminal intents specified by this bill, but merely ed it would interfere with individual rights; and, for the purpose of saving his own property, or proas the law is to take immediate effect, an individ- curing the release of himself or his friends. I will ul now in France may be punished before he say, therefore, continued Mr. H., that any merknows such a law exists. Another objection which chant or merchants of this country may, notwithhe bad to the bill was, that it is unlimited. He standing this bill, should it pass, make application, feared, as had already been hinted, that the law is by themselves or their agents, to the French Govprincipally intended for party purposes, and to ernment, for the restoration of their property, for bring an odium on the advocates of the rights of payment for it, or for the release of their friends, man in this House. Gentlemen have already re- provided they confine themselves to these objects, sounded it through the country that there is a and do not meddle with the political relations of party here connected with France; but they have the two countries. I will say, further, that even not dared to fix upon a man who forms one of this the memorial cited by the gentleman from Pennparty. If such a man be in this House, let them sylvania, (Mr. Gallatin,) and presented by cerat once fix upon him, and there will be no hesita- tain foreign merchants to the Council of' Five tion about bringing him to punishment. If gen- Hundred in France, would not, should it be predemen fail to do this, the public will not longer be sented by a number of American merchants, after deceived in this matter. They will be certain that the passing of this bill, bring them within its penno sach person exists. He hoped, for the reasons alties; it being manifest that the views of these be bad stated, that the bill would be recommitted. merchants went no further than to their private The question was now put and negatived—53 affairs, and that although the reasonings which

they adduce are of a very general nature, and apMr. Harper said that the motion for recommit- ply to the whole system of France respecting ment having been lost, he wished to offer a few neutral commerce, yet they do not design to inremarks in reply to the objections urged against termeddle in any manner in the political relations the passing of the bill.

between Franceand their respective Governments. And first he would state to the gentleman from I wili even go further. I will say that were I Maryland, (Mr. S. SMITH) who had declared him- in France, after this bill should be passed, and self to be favorable to the principles of the bill, M. Talleyrand were to invite me to sup with him, but objected to the form in which it was drawn, which perhaps might be the case, considering that that none of the cases put by that gentleman I had the pleasure of his acquaintance in this would, in his opinion, come within the purview or country, and he were to ask my opinion about the the penalties of the bill in its present form. The political relations of the two countries, I should bill created, he said, a new offence, viz: "the not scruple to tell him that the conduct of his commencing or carrying on, without the author- Government was highly im politic, and to assiga ity of the American Government, any correspond- my reasons for the opinion. "I might, perhaps, not ence, written or verbal, with a foreign Govern- think it prudent to do so, but, if I thought it pruDent, its officers, or agents, with intent to influ- dent, and the occasion offered, I should not conence the conduct or measures of such foreign sider myself as offending against this bill by doing Government, in relation to any disputes or con- so. Why? Because I should not act with the troversies with the United States, or to defeat the intent which this bill fixes on as the essence of measures of the Government of the United States." the offence created by it; the intent to interfere It was this intent, he said, which constituted the or intermeddle with the public relations of the essence of the offence; an intent to interfere in two countries. It is this interference, this interthe political relations of this country with foreign meddling, and not an accidental conversation, nations, or to defeat the measures of our own which the bill forbids, according to any reasonable Government. And it was an invariable and fun- or possible construction of it by an American damental rule in our criminal proceedings, that court and jury. Therefore I should hold such upon every indictment the criminal intent which conversation without fear of the law, should the constitutes the offence must be proved. Other- occasion accidentally occur; and should any body wise the indictment cannot be supported.

The indict me for it under this bill, I would justify myintent cannot be directly and positively proved; self by showing, from all the circumstance of the bat it may be and must be interred by the jury case, that the affair was merely accidental, and from the circumstances of the case, and those cir- that I had acted without any intention to intercumstances must be proved by legal and sufficient fere in the disputes of the two countries. testimony. Thus upon an indictment for murder, If he was right, Mr. H. said, in this construc

H. of R.)
Usurpation of Executive Authority.

[JANUARY, 1799. tion of the bill, and, after a full consideration, he own country, the United States of America, begs leave, firmly believed that he was, there could be no Citizen Minister, to expose to you in writing, what he ground for the apprehensions of the gentleman cannot with facility do by conversation, the motives from Maryland, since the cases for which he wish- which have induced him to quit his home and visit this ed to provide could never be considered by a court country at a crisis like the present, when the political and jury as coming within the purview of the relations of France and America are so near experiencbill, which, in order to constitute the offence, re- ing a total dissolution.” quired that the act should be done with an intent Thus we see that, this person professes, in the to interfere with the functions of the Government, outset, to treat generally of the matters in dispute and intermeddle with the political relations of the between the two countries, and declares this to two countries.

have been the object of his journey: The gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Nicholas)

“ Without any official character, and wholly unauhad, indeed, contended repeatedly, that such inter- thorized from any quarter, but knowing it to be his ference or intermeddling, so far from being pun- right, and believing it to be his duty, he comes as an ishable, was highly meritorious, provided its ob- dividual citizen to offer you his opinion on the best means ject was to make peace. This principle had been of restoring harmony and a good understanding be. again and again exposed, by showing that, if once tween the Governments of the two Republics, and, at admitted, it would cover or even justify any inter- the same time, to support his own opinion with what ference for any purpose, and could not fail to end he knows to be that of all the principal characters in in transferring to unauthorized individuals, all the America, famed for their sacred love of liberty in gene. powers which the people of this country have con- ral, and attachment for your cause in particular. Their fided to their Government, to be exercised by men hearts are overcome with sorrow when they reflect that of their own choice. Will it be denied, said Mr. so great a number of American patriots, who have H., that this principle may be so employed ? Will fought and conquered side by side with Frenchmen, it be denied that, under pretence of promoting and whose blood has flowed in the same trenches, are peace, the agent of a faction may go from this now forced to gird on their swords and combat whom? country to France, and advise the French Gov

those same generous Frenchmen.” ernment in what manner it ought to act, so as to

It is observable in this paragraph that, although lull the country into security, increase its influ- he affects, for form's sake, I presume, to declare ence among us, and strengthen the hands of its that he is authorized by nobody, but comes merely own party? To show that the principle contend- on his own footing, he yet immediately begins to ed for by the gentleman from Virginia may be so speak in the name and on the behalf or a political employed, that such attempts may be concealed, party in this country, whose opinions he declares under the specious garb of peace-making, I will to be the same with his own, and whom he debeg leave to read in my place, and as part of my scribes by calling them all the principal characobservations on this subject, a paper which I hold ters in America, famed for their sacred love of in my hand, and which has come to my posses- liberty in general, and their attachment for the sion by means of one of those threads whereof French cause in particular.” We all know what formerly made mention. This paper is addressed this jargon means, when translated into plain to the Minister of Foreign Relations of the French English, Republic, and I have reason to believe was pre

We all know that it means, in the new lansented to him by a citizen of this country who guage of party, that description of persons in this lately made a visit to France. It is in the follow-country who have uniformly opposed all the ing words:

measures adopted under this Government, and [Here Mr. Dent asked by whom the paper was especially those which relate to France; a designed.]

scription of persons whom we know that France Mr. H. replied, that it was signed by nobody, has considered, and does consider, as a party deand he did not think himself at liberty to name voted to her will and directed by her influence. the person by whom he supposed it to have been She has told us that she relies on this party, for presented. He would state that it was transmit- keeping the Government in shackles, and renderted to this country through no official channel, ing it wholly unable to resist her aggressions ; and but that he had reason to believe, and did believe that on this reliance her haughty and rapacious it to have been presented to the French Govern conduct toward this country has been founded. ment by an American citizen who was lately in In all these opinions this Envoy takes care to conFrance. He thought it in order for him to read firm the French Government. In the name of in his place any paper, unless it contained unbe- this description of persons he undertakes to speak. coming language, which was not the case with Their opinions, he assures her, are entirely conthis. He would, therefore, unless the Chair should formable with his own. otherwise decide, proceed to read it.

Thus we see that, while France professes to No objection being made, he proceeded to read have proceeded, in all her injurious conduct toit by paragraphs, and comment upon it, as fol- ward this country, on the reliance which she lows:

placed upon the aid of a party among us, a direct

and formal negotiation is opened with her Gov. To the Minister of Foreign Relations :

ernment in the name and on the behalf of that "The undersigned, a firm friend to the principles of party. What effect this must produce on the the French Revolution, and well known as such in his general interests of the country, on the safety and

to judge.

JANUARY, 1799.]
Usurpation of Executire Authority.

[H. OF R. authority of the Government, I leave every one Therefore, those who are not ready and willing to

admit this, are not friends of liberty. Therefore, And bere, Mr. Speaker, permit me to correct a the American Government, including the Execumistake in matter of fact into which the gentle tive and both Houses of the Legislature, are not man from Virginia (Mr. Nicholas) fell on a for- friends of liberty ; for they have denied that mer occasion. He declaredd that the existence of France was desirous of peace, and have contenda party here on whose aid France relied had ed, on the contrary, that nothing less than subperer been mentioned by any person connected mission would satisty her. This has been the with the French Gorerament; the assertions on main position of the American Government, the that subjeci having been made by one Mr. X. who ground-work of its whole system, of all its late peter pretended to any authority from that Gov- measures; and the ardor wherewith these measernment. That gentleman will find, by recurring ures have been seconded by the people has arisen w the printed correspondence, that the assertions from a conviction of this truth. "Bui here France respecting the existence of a French party in this is told not to be alarmed by these appearances ; country

, and the reliance placed on its aid by the for, that all the “ friends of liberty” in America, French Government, were made not by Mr. X, that is, in other words, the whole party whom she but by Mr. Y; and that Mr. X. and Mr. Y, are considers and relies on as her party, are still ready two rery different persons. Mr. Y was the real and willing to believe, contrary to all the evidence negoliator

, and the agent of the French Govern- of facts, and all the declarations of their own ment

. He has since appeared to be a gentleman Government, that she is desirous of peace. Could of the name of Bellamy; and being piqued at the she have stronger encouragement to proceed than insinuations which represented hiin as a mere thus to be told, by a person who speaks, whether swindler , who wished to get money for himself

, with or without authority, in the name of a party, be bas published a letter under his real name in and supports his opinion by theirs, that, do what the Paris newspapers, where in he expressly de- she will, there is a numerous and powerful descripclares that he neither spoke or wrote one word in tion of persons in this country ready to shut their the negotiation with our Commissioners without eyes to her conduct, distrust and disbelieve our the express direction of the Minister for Foreign own Government, and place an implicit reliance Afairs.

op all her insidious professions? What stronger The Envoy having confirmed France in her inducement could she have to believe that even opinion as to the existence and strength of her were she to invade the country, she might insure party bere, goes on to inform her who are her ene- the assistance of all the “friends of liberty in mies in this country.

America,” by publishing a manifesto to declare, - By what fatuity, Citizen Minister, has this unfor- as her General did when he was advancing into tunate quarrel been suffered to arrive at the present Switzerland, that she meant not to attack the crisis? Why are the enemies of France and America country, but only to release it from oppression, 10 to be so highly gratified ?”

suppress the “ aristocracy,” and place the GovHere we see that the enemies of France in this friends of liberty in America ?"

ernment in the hands of the “true patriots,” the country are also the enemies of America; and

“ When we have seen the numerous depredations they are gratified, it seems, by the quarrel. From the whole tenor of the paper it is manifest that made on our commerce, particularly in the West Indies, by the enemies of France are meant those persons missioned cruisers, but condemned on the most frivolous

some by cruisers without commissions, others by comin this country who have supported their own pretensions, we have, with pleasure, sought a pretext Government and thought that the aggressions of in malconduct of the agents of Government, and not France ought to be resisted. These, France is carried our indignation to the Government itself: the informed, are also enemies to America ; while, on late arrêt of the Directory has proved that we are the other hand, all the real lovers of liberty and right." friends of their country are also friends of France. Here France receives another most encouraging Let every one judge how much this must tend to piece of information. That “we,” meaning the confirm her in the opinion she holds respecting Envoy and those in whose names he speaks, in the existence, the strength, and the attachment of other words, “ all the friends of liberty in Ameriher party in this country.

ca,” are not dissatisfied with the conduct of the * France will no doubt answer, America was origi- French Goveroment itself, with her hostile desally in the wrong, and gives us no explanation; the crees against our commerce, which are the grounds Government of the United States will deny this, and of our complaints, but merely with the irregularioffer its own complaints. But, unhappily, the danger ties committed under those decrees, by some of her of a rupture is now become too imminent to permit agents and privateers. Hence, she is enabled to recriminations on the one part or the other. Is peace conclude, that she may insure the countenance desired by France ? The friends of liberty in America and support of this party, of “all the friends of have ever been ready and willing to admit of it.” liberty in America," without receding in the least

la this paragraph, the system is still further de- from the substance and essential parts of her ag. Feloped, and the views of the mission begin to'gressive system, provided she will do something disclose themselves. “ The friends of liberty in to save appearances, will restrain some irregularAmerica," France is told, “ have ever been ready ities of her agents, and pass some unmeaning arand willing to admit that she is desirous of peace.” rêt about the conduct of her privateers. If she

H.OF R.]

Usurpation of Executive Authority.

[JANUARY, 1799.

will do this, she is, in substance, informed, that order that they may be on their guard against intrigants she may continue to enforce her decrees, against who will not fail to engage them to count, in case of a which themselves, and not against the abuses com- rupture, on a powerful party in America to assist the mitted under them, we have armed, and may rely plans of France, and even to aid in case of an invasion. on the aid of the “friends of liberty," to render our | The contrary, be assured Citizen Minister, will be the efforts ineffectual. It is easily seen how much effect; the very idea strikes all true Americans with horthis, while it teaches her the proper course to be ror; they are ardently desirous of an accommodation

with France; but desirous as they are of an accommofollowed, must encourage her to persevere.

dation, they would be no less ready to support their Gov. “ We have seen, with the most lively regret, the non- ernment in war, and particularly in opposing with en. success of the negotiations at Paris; we neither blame ergy all foreign invasion. This truth admitted, France one Government nor the other, that these have not has to consider which is most for her own interest, to been brought to a happy issue; we prefer directing all make an enemy of United America and to throw her our efforts to revive the expiring flame of friendship thus into the arms of Great Britain, or by a great and and good will, that ought not, for a moment, to have magnanimous conduct to draw back those wandering been disminished, and to baffle the infamous intrigues of affections, which intrigue and misunderstanding have the enemies of France and America, who, in no way, estranged for a moment, and leave the true American can be so much gratified, as by bringing the two Re- character to blaze forth in the approaching elections." publics to an open rupture.”

This paragraph, more fully than any other, disThus, it seems that “we,” meaning still the Encloses the cloven foot of the mission. France is voy and his party, "all the friends of liberty in assured that, should she persist 100 openly in her America,” are not disposed to blame France for pleas, should she continue her outrageous and inthe rupture of the negotiation, and take care to sulting behaviour, should she openly attack or intell her so. This is saying to her, in effect,“ not-vade the country,' she will unite all parties against withstanding what the American Government, and her, and ruin her own cause. That she must, its supporters here, said about your conduct in the therefore, temporize, take off a little, or, to use a laie negotiation, be not discouraged, for the 'friends seaman's phrase, shorten sail for a while. For of liberty' in America do not believe them. They what is she to do this? Listen to the Envoy. She believe you in opposition to their own Government, is to do it in order to “ bring back the wandering and acquit you of all blame in this affair ; and they affections of the country, and make the true will take care to counteract the infamous intrigues American character blaze forth in the approach. of these enemies of France and America." Let us ing elections.” In plain English, to strengthen recollect who are meant by“ the enemies of France her party, which her late violent conduct had renand America,” in the language of this paper, and dered unpopular, and give them a preponderance we shall find, Mr. Speaker, that these “ infamous in the next elections. Thus, a foreign Governintrigues” mean the efforts employed to rouse ment is instructed, by the envoy of a domestic this country to resistance, and place it in a state faction, or a person who takes on himself to speak of defence. These efforts France is taught to con- and aci as such, in the proper method of aiming a sider as “infamous intrigues," set on foot by the successful stab'at the vitals of our Constitution, enemies of America: which“ all the friends of by influencing our elections, and from the assurliberty” will not fail to resist, and, if possible, to lances contained in the former part of the memorender ineffectual. It is obvious what encourage- rial about the views and opinions of this party, who ment in her enterprises she must derive from this are thus to be rendered triumphant in the elecassurance.

tions, she is left at full liberty to conclude that, if “ The advantage of speaking the same language, gives by some trifling and insidious concessions, she the enemies of France an opportunity of knowing well can accomplish this point, she will have nothing the American people; they know that the purest Repub. to fear after the true American character shall lican principles govern the mass of them; that their mag- have been made, by her means, 10 blaze forth in istrates once chosen, are the organs of the people during the elections." In other words, after this party. on the time for which they are chosen, notwithstanding whom she relies, shall have obtained a prepontheir administration may be attended with errors and derance in the popular branch of the Governeven faults. If therefore they can provoke the rupture they so ardently wish for, they are sure that every Amer. ican will rally round the standard of Government ; and a

“ France has now, Citizen Minister, an opportunity Government so supported will be a most useful ally to

of gaining, or losing, the affections of the Americans them.

forever; she has lately shown an unequivocal desire of “I wish, Citizen Minister, (and here I know that I preserving peace with her; but she has not yet done convey the wishes of all who deprecate a separation from enough for her own interest. What she has done will France, and particularly, that great friend to liberty, have but little effect, while the embargo exists and Ameriso well known in this country.)

can seamen are confined in prison ; let them be released, [In this place, Mr. H. said, the name of a dis- the embargo raised as soon as possible, and a Minister

sent to America with liberal instructions; the dispute tinguished personage in this country was men- will then be immediately restored; you will rejoice the tioned, which he did not think himself at liberty hearts of all true Americans; their children will lisp to repeat.]

your praises, and their fathers will inspire their young “To impress on the minds of the Government, the minds with love and affection for their ancient deliv truth contained in the foregoing paragraph, it is essentierers. al that they should feel and be well convinced of it, in “I know that the measure of sending a Minister im


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