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H. OF R.]
(Mar 21, 1834.
deputy; and according to the strict construction contended every informality will or should produce the result confor, a deputy cannot act, because the election law does lended for. There is not a law under heaven that can not authorize him to do so; besides, if a deputy could act, be literally carried into effect. Suppose the sheriff had it must be done as a sheriff under this same law, and not opened the election until after ten o'clock, does any then he also becomes immediately a judge, and, conse- one believe it would have vitiated the election, or even a quently, this court could have no sheriff in whose presence vote? Suppose he had not given the month's notice of the voters sball vote, His absence, therefore, on the the election required by the law, would that have invalisecond day, ought not to operate such an injury to the dated it? No one believes it. legal voters as to deprive them of their elective franchise. In all the great purposes of government, its ends and My worthy colleague, in his argument yesterday, con objects must be attained by a rational exposition of its founded the personal qualifications of voters with the re- rules and regulations. That great law, superior to all law, quirements of the law, as to the time, place, and manner the law of necessity, pervades every thing human, and of holding elections, and said if you can reject the vote cannot be legislated away. Let me give you an illustraof a person under twenty-one years of age, because the tion of its ascendency. If the sheriff, I think they call law has required him to be of that age to entitle him to him Hocker, had done his duty, Mr. Letcher would now vote, you can reject a vote where the law has not been be the sitting member. Suppose, at the beginning of the complied with in regard to time, place, and manner. session, he had voted for the present Clerk of the House, Now, as I stated before, there is a clear and manifest dif- and that Clerk had been elected by one vote, and suppose ference between the qualification of the voter and the it shall now be determined, as i fear it will, that Mr. means provided by law to give effect to his vote. In all Letcher is not entitled to the seat, will any one say that the transactions of life, whether in a civil, moral, or po- the Clerk's place should be vacated, because he was litical point of view, when we are called on to act as elecied by a person who was not a lawful voter? And responsible agents, the intention, the quo animo, consti. why not? Because, if respect is not paid to the color of tutes the very essence of accountability. A man may office in the diversified relations of public functionaries, commit the utmost atrocities, such as homicide, house. there is nothing which can be made to stand the incom. burning, nay, he may Hay another alive, yet, if he be petency of language to convey our ideas, or the frailty of destitute of reason, he commits no crime: this is a prin- forecast to provide for unseen difficulties, or misconceived ciple that runs through all human actions, and all our de results. Great and important laws may be passed by one cisions intended to promote and advance the well-being single illegal vote, and yet who believes that you must of society proceeds upon the quality of the motive that travel all along the process of this legislation to detect its has given rise to the act. Will it be said that the man errors, and tlien down through its consequences to corwho goes to an election with a full knowledge that he is rect its mischiefs? But, sir, if these informalities are such not twenty-one year's okl, and whe, consequently without as the consciences of honorable members cannot surright, votes contrary to law, is to be placed upon the same mount, by all tliat is holy in principle and bonest in reafooting with the legal voter, who votes ignorantly as to son, they cannot work á benefit to one, and a palpable the authority of the magistrate or sheriff, to receive his injury to the other contending party, much less can they vote? If the law had considered them in the same situa. deprive legal voters of their right to a participation in the tion, it would, when it required the judges to swear the choice of a representative who is to legislate on his dearest voters as to their right of suffrage, have provided a simi- rights, perbaps of life, liberty, and property: lar oath to be administered by the voters to the presiding Mr. Speaker, there is something wrong in this case officers as to their official qualifications.
from the beginning. An attempt was made to deprire This is obviously the effect of the rigid construction Mr. Letcher of his election by the hocus pocus of this Mr. contended for by the committee. The elector, to be safe, Sheriff Hocker, who has disgraced himself, and nearly must, before he gives in his vote, take the election law his State, and against whose conduct every honest man, and subject the managers to some such interrogations as from Maine to Georgia, and even beyond those places, if these: "Mr. Sheriff, did you wait till ten o'clock, to the beyond them the case has gone, and honest men can minute, before you opened the election? are the judges be found, has manifested the most indignant detestaof your appointment, or of the county court's? if of the first, tion. The scheme which met the cry of shame, shame, under what circumstances did you make it, if of the last, from every quarter, having failed, the same object, purhave they been sworn? Have you been present all the sued with an untiring zeal, must be accomplished, first by time of the election, never turned your back once, walk-illegal votes; and that failing also, the law must be made ed aside, talked with any one while the people were to give way, even at the expense of legal votes, and all voting? because, if you did you were just as absent for all the sacred principles of the rights of majorities must be the objects of the law, as if you had been called home to made to yield to a purpose which the most formidable a sick wife.” Indeed, Mr. Speaker, you perceive, in public and private rights cannot resist. order to secure his privilege, the voter will do manifest Many cases of contested elections have been relied on injustice to himself lie does not ask every question by the committee to prove that the provisions of election necessary to give effect to his suffrage. If every voter laws must be complied with: grant that this is right in takes this precaution, instead of three days it will take notorious cases of injury, yet does it follow that the nonthree months to hold an election. And, after all, one observance is to deprive legal voters of their privileges, false answer from the court or the sheriff' would defeat and throw the result of the election into the hands of a him at last; for, under this notion of literal construction, minority? With the exception of two cases cited, the a violated law could not be satisfied any more than if no whole current of the authorities slow that new elections inquiry had been made at all. But if these are informali- were ordered. Why have the commillee labored by these ties, i insist upon it, Mr. Speaker, they are not such as cases to establishi particular premises, and then jumped to amount either to a good cause to reject the votes, or to a wholly different conclusion? Following up those vitiate the election; because they produce no injury to decisions, they ought to have recommended a new electhe rest of the voters or to the complainant at your bar, tion. But have they done this? If you cannot count who has been seeking their confidence. On the contrary, these seventy legal votes, fifty-four of which were for Mr. it materially injures the discarded elector and his com- Letcher, for heaven's sake, do not suffer the operation petitor,
of their rejection to assist a man in obtaining a trust That some such reasonable rule as this must be adopted which the majority of the legal voters of his district be. I apprehend no one will deny; for it is idle to say that|lieved he did not deserve, and which they had conferred
Mar 22, 1834.]
[H. OF R. upon another,
Send the question back to them, and let Mr. JONES, of Georgia, made a brief explanation on a them decide it for themselves. Sir, I will put a case, point in which his argument had been misapprehended which will show the absolute justness of this course. by his colleague. Suppose there had been but one more vote, besides these Mr. HARDIN followed in support of the amendment, seventy, in the county of Garrard, and that one, accord- and in further reply to the gentlemen from Georgia, (Mr. ing to the notions of the committee, the only legal vote, Jones.] would you say that this vote should determine the elec The question being on the motion to amend the resolu. tion in favor of the candidate for whom it was cast tion, by striking out all after the word resolved, and inagainst the other seventy given to his opponent? If you serting the following: answer in the negative, remember the principle cannot “That the legal votes which were received in Lancas. be altered by mixing this single vote with ten thousand ter, (Garrard county,) whilst Moses Grant, Esq. acted as others, provided the rejection of legal votes turns the one of the judges, on the first morning of the election in election in favor of a minority. A gain: suppose the case 1 August last, and those of a like character, given on the have put should have occurred in all the counties of that second day of the election, in the casual absence of the district, five in number, (and what might happen in one, sheriff, ought to be estimated in ascertaining the results might occur in all,) is any one prepared to say that the of the election." five legal votes should prevail against five times seventy, Mr. GILMER called for a division of the question on equally legal, but void inerely for the want of formal re. the amendment, so as to take the question separately on quusites? But, sir, suppose, which places the case out of all the legality of the votes taken the first day in Garrard; doubt, there had been no legal yotes in any of the coun- which was pronounced by the Chair to be in order. ties, but all liable to the objections raised against the Mr. BOON wished the question to be first taken on seventy, would this House give the election to Mr. Letch. the motion to strike out; which the Chair pronounced 10 er's opponent? And why not? If, in the case put, one be out of order. vote is allowed to outweigh seventy, and five, five times Mr. GRIFFIN asked the yeas and nays on the question; serenty, then that principle would permit none to do it. which were ordered. If you go upon the doctrine that because Mr. Lelcher is Mr. JONES, of Georgia, spoke at considerable length Rot elected, Mr. Moore must be; if you maintain that all in rejoinder to the several gentlemen who had replied fraudulent votes shall be taken from him for want of to him. qualifications in the voters, and all his legal ones for Mr. HAMER took the flour, but yielded it to a motion want of a compliance with the form of law, you are to adjourn. bound to decide in favor of Moore, whether he gets any The House then adjourned. votes or not.
Such principles cannot long prevail in this country, however they may serve to answer a temporary purpose.
Taunsday, May 22. Sir, I would fain hope that they are not intended to answer Alter disposing of the usual morning businesseren a temporary purpose. Though I sincerely believe The following message, received yesterday from the the decision will be wrong, if made in favor of the peti- President of the United States, was read: tioner, yet it may not be right in me to imagine that such resuit has been influenced by party considerations. I am
WASHINGTON, May 21, 1834. bound to believe that every member on this floor is actu
I lay before the House of Representatives a copy of a ated by as high and honorable motives as myself, yet, sir,
"convention for the settlement of claims between the it is not amiss to caution the best among us, from which i United States of America and her Catholic Majesty,” do not intend to exclude myself, to beware of the insidious concluded on the 17th February last. character of party feeling. Parties are necessary in every the constitution, and will be immediately transmitted to
This convention has been ratified by me, agreeably to Government; and in a contest for political principle, I do not condemn a single honest exertion for the ascen
Madrid, where it will doubtless be ratified by her dency, but when private rights are to be seltled, when Majesty. It is deemed proper to communicate the conthe case is between man and man, as to property or privi- vention thus early, that provision may be made for carry, lege, the judge or juror that could not forget his party shall have been exchanged, in order that our citizens
ing the first article into effect as soon as the ratifications affiliations, must be lost to every principle of honesty and justice. I may be deceived, but I think I can with great may, with as little delay as possible, obtain the stipulated truth say that I am able to approach this decision ex
compensation. empt from such a control; for I belong to a party which, !
ANDREW JACKSON. am proud to say, differs altogether from those to which
POLISH EXILES. the competitors are attached. This case will soon be Mr. CAMBRELENG asked the unanimous consent of come one of history, and the strong feelings of party with the House to submit a motion granting the use of the wluch, at present, it is unhappily surrounded, will as soon Hall on Monday evening next, for a public meeting to be pass into oblivion. We should, therefore, take care that held to devise means for the benefit of the Polishi exiles. Fe do not lay up for ourselves matter for severe reproach Mr. HAWES objectingto the end of our lives. The idea of having wronged a Mr. CAMBRELÉNG moved a suspension of the rule, fellow being from considerations which we know to be to enable him to submit the motion. antagonist to the enduring claims of truth and right, The House suspended the rule, and the question on the masi be a reflection calculated to make a most unwel. motion having been put, it prevailed: Ayes 90, noes not come pillow companion in the closing scenes of time. counted. Sir, this election should be decided as it all the people of The House resumed the consideration of the report of tise district were surrounding us in that circular gallery, the committee on and looking them in the face, we should listen to the voice of the seventy rejected legal voters, imagining we
THE KENTUCKY ELECTION. bear them demand to have their rights respected as much The question before the House was the resolution reas those who have been less unfortunate in the presenta- ported by the Committee of Elections, that Thomas P. 1100 of their suffrage, but not more entitled to its exercise. Moore was entitled to the seat in the House from the fifth
It was my intention to have said more, but I am obliged congressional district, as proposed to be amended by Mr. to desist from a severe pain in my breast.
Banks, by declaring that ibe votes taken in Garrard
H. or R.]
(Mar 22, 1834.
county, in the absence of the judge of the election ap- by the majority for Mr. Letcher, that he (Mr. Moore) aspointed by the county court on the first day, and in the serts should be stricken off; thereby making the majority absence of the sheriff on the second day, be counted. for him much larger than it is now. Thus we are standMr. HAMER rose and said:
ing between two fires, both parties complain of our deci. Mr. Speaker: Before I proceed to submit my views of sions. Under such circumstances, there is but one course the question now pending before the House, I trust I shall for us to take; and, so far as I am concerned, but one will be indulged in making a single remark, in reference to be taken; it is to proceed directly forward, regardless of myself.
the consequences, be them what they may. I concur with the gentleman from New York (Mr. I agree, sir, with the gentlemen who have preceded VANDERPOEL] who addressed the House the other day, me, that this is a question of deep importance. It is imand who is a member of the Committee of Elections. He portant to the claiinants, because it involves the right to informed us that it was not by his desire that he had a seat on this foor; it is important to the people of the been placed on that committee. So of myself, sir. Al. fifth congressional district, and, indeed, of the whole though I have never sought to avoid any responsibility State of Kentucky, as affecting their representation in that devolved upon me, in the several stations I have had this branch of the Government; and it is important to the honor to occupy, still I bave never courted it when it this House and to the American people; for the decision did not belong to me. With a knowledge of the business now made will be looked to as a beacon for the guidance that must come before the Committee of Elections, I of those who may have to determine similar cases in after should have been very unwise, at the commencement of times. It behooves us, therefore, to proceed with cauthe session, to have desired a place among its members. tion and deliberation; to weigh well every argument that But, sir, I was placed upon it by the presiding officer of may be presented; and so to decide, as that vital principle this House, and I have endeavored to discharge my duty may be preserved inviolate, and substantial justice meled faithfully. It was the fortune-good or bad- of the gen- out to all concerned. tleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Banks) and myself, to To discuss this subject in the manner best calculated to be selected as a sub-committee, to examine the immense present its merits clearly and intelligibly to those who mass of lestimony, consisting of some eighteen hundred hear me, it becomes necessary to relieve it from some of pages of manuscrip!, and making a large volume, now the encumbrances that have been heaped upon it by the ihat it is in print, that had been taken by the respective gentlemen who have preceded me. It often happens claimants to a seat on this foor. Nearly five hundred that we mislead both ourselves and others, in discussing a votes were assailed as illegal. Some were said to be question, by making false issues, and by incorporating given by minors; others by aliens; others again, by per- extraneous matters that do not properly belong to the sons who were not residents of the county where they subject. These are so many false lights that lead us voted; and a variety of other disqualifications were alleged astray in the pursuit of truth. They should be extinto exist.
guished; for their glare upon our mental vision has a diIn some instances, three, four, or five witnesses were rect tendency to obscure the object which they were deexamined to prove the illegality of a vote; and three or signed to illuminate. four depositions would be taken to assail the credibility of One prominent position has been taken by the minority one of these witnesses. Indeed, the case presented for of the committee, and by all the gentlemen who have our examination almost every question that can be spoken upon that side of the House, which I am bound imagined to exist in a contested election. We labored to notice. They charge the majority with advancing the upon it, as is known to a number of gentlemen, night and doctrine, that an individual having a minority of the votes day, for many weeks, until my own health was seriously in the fifth district is entitled to a seat on this floor. Sir, impaired. Upon a large majority of the points presented I deny this charge. The committee have advanced no to us, we agreed: upon some we differed. Having travel such doctrine in their report; and not a single member of led through it, the majority and the minority of the com- it has advocated such a principle. For myself, I wholly mittee have each submitted the results of their examination repudiate it. We have not only not contended for any to the House. From the fact of my having served upon such principle, but we have said, expressly, that, after a the sub-committee, it is expected that my views of the full and thorough purgation of the polls, counting in as question will be made known in this discussion.
legal all the votes given at Lancaster on Monday, whilst One word more, sir, and I proceed. I hope it will be Esquire Grant was on the bench, and all given during the distinctly understood, that, in whatever terms I may feel absence of the sheriff on Tuesday, still there was a clear myself compelled to speak of the arguments of gentle- majority of the individual votes in favor of Major Moore. men, I mean no personal disrespect. I have no unkind- We contend for the doctrine that a majority shall rule, as ness of feeling towards either of the claimants, or for any strenuously as the gentlemen do. Indeed, both the cangentleman who has spoken in the progress of this discus- didates maintained their claims before us upon this prinsion on either side of the question. It is not my habit to ciple. It was the main question to be determined by the impugn the motives of others, or to give an uncharitable committee. Each of the claimants contended that, after construction to their conduct; and, pursuing that course striking off all illegal, individual votes, he had a majority towards those who differ with me, should it be my misfor- of what remained. The legality of the votes given at lune, either now or hereafter, to have my own motives Lancaster, on Monday and Tuesday, was a question upon assailed, or my conduct misrepresented, I trust I Shall which the committee felt bound to give an opinion, beknow how to repel all such assaults with the spirit that cause it was one that would probably come before the becomes a freeman.
House. But, independently of that question, they found The majority of the committee find themselves placed a majority of votes for Major Moore. in a most singular condition. They are charged by the Why, then, are we charged with maintaining that a minority with erroneous decisions, in a number of cases minority is 10 prevail over a majority? I ask the gentlewhere votes have been stricken from Mr. Letcher's poll; men whether, in ascribing to us such sentiinents, they and it is said by gentlemen that if these cases had been treat us with the fairness to which we are justly entitled? correctly determined Mr. Letcher would have had a Again, sir: A disinterested listener, who was unacmajority of all the votes of the district, and would be quainted with the merits of this controversy, would supentitled to the seat. On the other hand, Major Moore pose, from the speeches of gentlemen, that we were has laid a printed argument upon our tables, accompanied about to overthrow the dearest rights that belong to the by a list of some forty or fifty votes, which were retained people of this great republic. One gentleman (Mr.
Mar 22, 1834.]
[11. of R.
MansRALL) declares that the sense of the country will all the sheriffs to sign it. Neither of them bad the eviput down our doctrine; and he asks, most triumphantly, dence, strictly speaking, which the law required. Neither whether this is a principle by which any gentleman is of them contended for a permanent seat here, upon such willing to stand in this country? Why, sir, this would all be evidence. The riglit to that, they both admitted, would very appropriate, if the committee had attempted to sus- depend upon a majority of the votes given in the district, tain the proposition ascribed to them; but I have already after a thorough purgation of the polls. Precisely that stated that they do not. Their report rests upon no such doctrine have they both contended for ever since. in sandy foundation. It stands upon the great fundamental all their communications with the committee, they rest principle, that the majority shall rule. It recognises the their claims upon this principle; and each one insists that rights of the people as secured by their own institutions. he has such a majority. Their claims to a temporary seat, And I tell the gentleman, in answer to his question, that, we all know, were waived, and the whole matter referreii by this principle and these institutions, I am willing to 10 the committee. How, then, has the ground been take my stand; and to risk, in so doing, what little repu- changed? Why does any gentleman indulge himself in tation I now possess, or may hereafter live to acquire. throwing out reflections upon one candidate and not upon
The conduct of Alfred Hocker, the sheriff of Lincoln, the other? I deny, sir, that the ground has been changhas been alluded to by all the gentlemen who have ad. ed. The right to a permanent seat is still elaimed by dressed the House upon the other side. It has been called both candidates, as it has been from the first, by virtue of "disgraceful;" the term “ hocus pocus" was applied to it a majority of the individual votes. Who has this majoriby the gentleman from Georgia, (Mr. Claytor.] His ty, is the question now to be determined by the House. conduct, right or wrong, has nothing to do with the Here, I cannot but notice a remark that fell from the question now before us. It is the conduct of Thomas gentleman from Georgia, (Mr. Clayton,) who is not a Kennedy, the sheriff of Garrard, that is under considera-member of the committee. He declared that he believtion.
ed this case would be decided wrong! For my own part, No one has attempted to justify the act of Mr. Hocker, I entertain no such fears. I will not anticipate an erroin withholling the poll-book of Lincoln, as a legal act. neous decision by this House of any question. To the The committee have expressly condemned it. Major apprehensions of gentlemen, that party influence will be Moore, in whose favor it operated, does not pretend to brought to bear upon the minils of honorable members, I justify it as legal. He claims nothing under it. But the will not speak in reply. It should be presumed, I think, act itself, and the motives of the individual, are two dis- that all will act from pure motives and sound and honest tinct considerations; and this man, whose name has been principles. foarled with maledictions, is proved to possess a most es
Various cases have been presented, by way of argucellent character to be an upright, honest, and patriotic ment and illustration, from the election laws of Georgia, citizen. His motives were, no doubt, good, and his acts Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. I do not feel bound to resulted from what is supposed to be a wrong construc- answer the inquiries they propose, because they have no tion of the law. Let us see if there is nothing to palliate direct bearing upon what is believed to be the true issue hus offence.
before the House. They may serve to amuse and instruct The law provides that the sheriffs shall meet within us upon other points, but it is most important that we fifteen days after the election, and, by a faithful compari- consider the question upon which we have to decide. son and addition of the votes given in the several conn The gentleman from Kentucky, [Mr. Hardin,) who fies, ascertain who is elected, and make out his certifi- last addressed the House, expressed his surprise and recate. Mr. Hocker believed that the sheriffs, when so gret that the committee had not decided two very immet, composed a board, having the right to decide upon portant questions, as he conceived them to be. The first the validity of a poll-book; and, if the election, in any one was, whether the sheriff could, under any circumstances, precinct, had been held in open violation of law, that open the polls before 10 o'clock. The other was, whether they had a right to reject the votes so given. In this the certificate, made out by the three sherifts, and transopinion, he may have been wrong; yet the language of mitted to this House by the Executive, or copies of the the law affords a plausible excuse for the sentiments he poll-books, furnished the best evidence of the number of avowed.
votes received by the candidates. Now, the answer to Finding that the sheriffs would not enter into such an all this is easily given. The committee did not feel themexanination as he desired, believing that the votes about selves called upon to decide either of the points named; to be counted ought not to be considered in a faithful because they arrived at a final termination of the whole comparison and addition, he retired with his poll-book, case without such decision. Take either the poll-books leaving the question to be decided by the constituted au- or the certificate as evidence of the number of votes rethorities of the country:
ceived, and Major Moore has a majority. Count all the It has been said, in the course of this debate, that the votes taken before 10 o'clock, at Lancaster, or exclude certificate of the three sheriff's proves nothing; that, not them, and in either event he has still a majority. Albeing made pursuant to the law, it is void; that Major though these questions were presented to the committee, Moore claimed a seat here upon such a certificate; that as a great many points are presented in argument to a Mr. Letcher ought to have had the seat, upon the copies court or jury, by counsel, still they no more considered of the poll-books which he presented; and, says the gen- themselves obliged to decide upon them, than the court tleman from Georgia, (Mr. CLAYTON,] the ground is now feels bound to adjudicate upon all the points raised by changed in favor of the former; and it is contended that the advocates during the trial. They find one or two a minority of votes shall entitle him to a seat here. The principal points, upon which the whole case turns, and Valdity of such a certificate is not now a legitimate sub. decide them; leaving the others for some future occasion, ject of discussion. It has no connexion whatever with when necessity may require a solemn judgment upon Le point before the House; but I beg leave to set the them. gentle man right, with regard to the respective position That gentleman presented another very grave inquiry. U the two claimants throughout this whole contest. It was—"what is a day?” As the constitution of Ken
At the commencement of the session, there was nothing tucky gives a day to the electors for exercising their right ia dispute but the right to a temporary seat in the House of suffrage, he contended that the Legislature could not Fisch party claimed it; one upon the copies of the poll- limit them in the exercise of the right to certain hours Looks, and the other upon a certificate signed by three of the day. Any such attempt, he thinks, would be vzr ils of the Congressional district-the law requiring unwarranted; any such law would be unconstitutional,
H. OF R.]
(Max 22, 1834.
I am not disposed to enter the arena with the gentle House, demand the rejection of these votes, we are not man to discuss so serious a question. If he chooses to to inquire for the consequences to a particular individual; nullify the law, let him do so. If he determines constitu- whether it will put him in or out of a seat. Apply the tional questions by a literal application of the language principle to the facts of the case-let it cut off whomsoemployed in the charter, then his criterion is different ever it may. from the one which I have been accustomed to regard as The gentleman from Georgia [Mr. CLAYTON] has inthe truer and safer rule. To carry out the principle formed us that the very existence of representative gor. would involve us in great difficulties. In almost every ernment is menaced by the report of the committee; and American constitution there is a clause which declares, that he firmly believes this case will be decided wrong. substantially, that justice shall be administered, without From what premises does the gentleman draw his conclu. sale, denial, or delay. Suppose you owe me a sum of sions? How has he ascertained which side is right, and money, but fail to pay it on the day the debt becomes which wrong? How has he learned which of these can. due: I am entitled to justice without delay. It is a con-didates has a majority of the individual votes given in the stitutional right. The law ought to provide, according fifth district? Has he made a thorough purgation of the to the principles of the gentleman, for an immediate ar. polls? Has he, in one short week, the time we have had rest, trial, judgment, and sale of property, or person, or the printed documents upon our tables, examined the imprisonment of the latter at least. There must be no testimony, and decided for himself, upon all the questions security taken for the defendant's appearance at court- involved in the contest? I apprehend he will not say he no time allowed to prepare for trial.-10 stay of execu- has. If the gentleman undertakes to pronounce one side tion. These would occasion delay, and a law allowing right, and the other wrong, without this searching exami the debtor such privileges would be unconstitutional! nation, is be not in danger of falling into fatal mistakes? Surely the gentleman does not contend for a mode of Sir, he kindly' admonished the House against allowing interpretation that would lead to such extravagant con- party feelings to enter into the decision of this question; sequences. I apprehend, sir, that the true rule is, to but if he permits himself in advance to pronounce one give all these clauses a reasonable construction; one that side right and the other wrong, is he not in danger of the is consistent with the general principles and scope of the same pernicious influence against which he so earnestly instrument, and with the manifest intention of those who warns others? I do not believe that honorable gentlemen framed it.
have formed their opinions, and steeled their understandWhilst upon this subject, I will take occasion to say ings against all argument upon this subject. If so, it that, to my mind, there is a striking incongruity in the would be in vain for me to stand up here, and submit my doctrines of some gentlemen. At one time they adhere views for their consideration: I might as well attempt to the very words of the constitution and laws of Ken- to struggle with the whirlwine. No, sir, the gentlemen tucky. They are strict constructionists of the straitest are mistaken with regard to the character of our report.
For example, when the constitution says that the It does not, nor do the principles we advocate, menace election shall be heli on the first Monday in August, and the existence of representative government. It does not, the law says that the sheriff shall open the polls by 10 nor do we, contend for the doctrine, that a minority shall o'clock, and keep them open till at least one hour before govern a majority. The report of the committee is based sunset, why, here it is contended that the voters are en- upon the broad principles of inflexible truth, which, soontitled to the whole day, from midnight of the previous er or later, will bear down all opposition. Our report is evening, until midnight of the first Monday in August; shielded and sustained by the laws and the constitution of and that the sheriff may open the polls immediately after the country. It imbodies principles that will bear the midnight, and keep thein open during the whole twenty- test of human scrutiny, apply it whensoever and whereso. four hours. In this case, we must " stick to the letter.” ever you may. But, when the law says that all votes shall be given in Mr. Speaker, there has been a great deal said in the the presence of the judges and sheriff-then we must course of this discussion about the inalienable rights of turn latitudinarians of the ultra school. In this case, gen. voters, and the inherent right of suffrage. These rights tlemen tells us that the law does not mean what it says are neither inherent, nor are they inalienable, as was most at all. We must give it a liberal construction. The conclusively shown by the gentleman from Georgia, (Mr. sheriff may absent himself from the county entirely, and Jones,) who is a meniber of the committee. An inherent yet the votes given in his absence will be valid in law. right of suffrage does not exist, it never did exist. And Perhaps gentlemen can reconcile these two modes of I am surprised to hear gentlemen of great ability, who construction as consistent with each other, but I confess have been long in public life, talk of an inherent right to my utter inability w do so.
vote. They have not considered this subject with their Another gentleman from Kentucky (Mr. MARSHALL) usual care, or they would not indulge in the use of such has told us that, among all the precedents referrell to, no terms, nor would they attempt to derive arguments viom Case can be found where this House has, under circum- a proposition so wholly untenable. The right of suffrage stances like the present, stricken off the whole or a part is not inherent. It is derived from the sucial compact, of the votes given in a township, parish, or precinct, on and did not exist anterior to it. It is not inalienable, for account of the illegal manner of conducting the election, it may be forfeited by those who possess it, in various and then given the seat to a candidate who liad a minori- mocles pointed out in the constitutions of the several States 1y of votes, by retaining such poll-book; but a majority, of this Union. by its rejection. Without stopping now to say how far What is the right of suffrage? It is a right which I precedent should control us in deciding a case of such have to bind you. I elect an individual whose acts are marked peculiarities, I will inquire of the gentleman obligatory upon you, within the sphere assigned him, no whether this House has not, by former decisions, establish- matter whether he is your choice or not. ed the principle that such poll-books are to be rejected; this right in a state of nature, independently of the organic that where the law has been openly violated and disre. laws under which we live? Certainly not.
If the right garded in conducting the election, the votes given shall were inherent, all men would possess it. Aliens, females, not be counted in the final addition? That such decisions and minors would possess it; negroes and mulattoes would have been made, and such a principle established, will also claim it. But we all know that such is not the fact. scarcely be denied. Well, sir, it is for the principle we Certain classes of society are every where excluded, by contend; by that we should be governed. If the constitu:- the constitution and laws. By the way, sir, while upon tion and the law, as well as the former judgments of this this point, I will take occasion to arow the opinion, that a
Do I possess