Слике страница
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]


OCT. 2, 1837.]

OF DEBATES IN CONGRESS. Adjournment of Congress.

relief: not merely to pass a law or two to relieve the Treasury by raising money from the people, and then go home. The idea, he said, appeared to be very general that there must be a recess. But he could not see the necessity or adequate reason of adjourning. But if it were settled that this is to be so short a session, and that measures so important are to take their final decision, at any rate, before it closes, why then, Mr. A. observed, it were better the session were shortened as much as possible. It were better, in fact, to adjourn at once-to-morrow. We have done mischief enough, he remarked, already, for the sake of relieving the Treasury. It would not be difficult, however, to lay the country under a yet further burden than that already imposed upon it-by the passage, meantime, of the bill which gives Government ten or twelve millions of dollars more. It would be easy to do this in one day by the aid of the previous question. And then, why not go home? Mr. A. remarked that he had heard no arguments for adjournment which had been based upon considerations of public interests, but only on those of mere private accommodation; just, said he, as we get all the gold and silver, while the people get nothing but rags.

But there was one other money bill the House might, by the aid of the previous question, also get through within the limits prescribed by the Senate for the duration of the session. Besides the ten or twelve millions of dollars for the Treasury, there was a bill on the table appropriating two or three millions of dollars more "for the suppression of Indian hostilities." Being one of that highly favored class of appropriation bills which he had before designated as "scalping-knife and tomahawk bills," it would be most easy to pass it by the previous question at any moment.

Mr. A. gave as a reason why he would not vote for that bill, if it should come up, that no such appropriation as it makes was called for by the Executive. It was not mentioned in the message. There had been no intimation from any quarter, that should be taken as authority by the House in matters so important, that $2,000,000 more of the people's money was wanted in addition to the large sums already appropriated for the same object. But, said Mr. A., it seems to be the object of this session of Congress, rejecting all consideration of the claims and memorials of the people, to do only what in England is significantly denominated "the King's business," and then to go home as fast as possible !

The SPEAKER here, suggested that the bill making appropriations for the suppression of Indian hostilities was not then before the House.

Mr. ADAMS, with great deference to the Speaker, would suggest that he was in order while giving as a reason why Congress should not adjourn next Monday, that important bills were yet to be acted on by the House, and to strengthen his argument by showing their importance.

The SPEAKER conceded that right, but denied to the gentleman the power of going into the merits of those measures, or either of them, under the rules of the House. Mr. ADAMS. Those measures cannot be discussed without taking more time than will be allowed us if this resolution passes. Nor would it be consistent with the proper discussion of matters so important to adjourn before the commencement of the ordinary session. And, therefore, not, however, hoping that he should be successful in his appeal, he suggested to gentlemen the expediency of making the slight sacrifice of their personal conveniences to the public good. These inconveniences had mostly been already incurred; and, let gentlemen say what they will, the imputation, already alluded to by the gentleman from Maryland, [Mr. JOHNSON,] will be in the mouth of every man, woman, and child in the country," you went home to get double mileage!"

Mr. A. was going on to allude to the course which had
VOL. XIV.-73





[H. OF R.

been adopted in the House in regard to the resolution of inquiry into the causes of delay in prosecuting and terminating the Florida war, and which (said Mr. A.) seems to have been sent to "the paradise of fools,"-when he was interrupted by Mr. CAMBRELENG, who called him to order. The SPEAKER said that Mr. A. should confine himself to the question immediately before the House, instead of referring to so many distinct subjects.

Mr. ADAMS said he would endeavor to hedge himself within limits as closely as possible; and if he did chance to transgress the bounds of debate, even though it be ever so little, the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, who knows his absolute power in this House, will, no doubt, check him and bring him back.

Mr. A. said he had referred to two or three of the measures before the House for consideration. He would merely allude to two other great financial measures, which also awaited their action: the innumerable sub-treasuries on one side, and on the other a return to deposite banks. So much is to be said on both sides, and so much is to be said against both sides, of this question, there certainly could not be much time to spare, if they were to be discussed as they should be, prior to the 9th or the 16th inst., unless, to be sure, the previous question should be invoked to settle the matter; and if that is to be used, it may as well be resorted to immediately upon the second reading of the bill as at any other time. The chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means holds in his hands the debates of this House, and whenever a question has been debated as long as he thinks proper or convenient, all he has to do is to put down his foot, and the gag is at once upon us. Besides, there would be some reason for the passage of these bills, if, being done in a hurry, they will afterwards find the apology for their passage, which, were they to be adopted after deliberation, they could never obtain.

It is the opinion of some gentlemen that the sub-Treasury system was not intended to be discussed in that House. It had been called a bold measure in the President of the United States, who had given up his usual "non-committal" policy in recommending it. Perhaps, said Mr. A., it was the more "bold" from this very consideration, that it was not to be discussed, and was not intended to be passed. On this he would give no opinion; he would leave the solution of the problem to "that great teacher, Time." At all events, it could not, if it was intended, be discussed and passed in so short a space as was proposed. It was a great measure of revenue, calling much profound finance, much deep philosophy, and, more than all to be considered here, much warm party spirit, into action upon it. It could not so soon be settled, except by the intervention of the previous question, and, if that were intended, he would say, let us come to the question at once, even this very day.

Besides these most important matters, there was one other, to which he would briefly allude, but with regard to the merits of which Mr. A. said he should express no opinion then. He had allusion to the Mississippi contested election. Here we have two members, deciding on all important questions-for, in these days, said Mr. A., we find a majority of two upon important questions in this House-while a large portion of the House entertain the opinion that they have no right here at all! Besides, it was an important constitutional question, and involving, too, a question of deep interest to the State of Mississippi, and there certainly was not time to do justice to it, before the day proposed for adjournment. Mr. A., however, would take the occasion to remark, that, whatever may be the result of this question, he was glad those gentlemen (Messrs. CLAIBORNE and GHOLSON) had been in the House during this session. They had, at all events, the voice of the people of Mississippi in favor of their being here thus long; and it is better that they should be here without a perfect

[blocks in formation]

title, than that the people of their State should be unrepresented on this floor. The expression of this opinion may be a political heresy, but such was his view of the constitution. Mr. A. concluded by expressing the wish that his dissent to the principle of making the present an extra session merely, be entered upon the journal. This, he said, had been the main object he had in view, in making the remarks he had done to the House.

Mr. PATTON could not vote for the last amendment, for it was entirely too early to fix the adjournment of the general session; especially as they had lost all the time of the present session in the general public and private business of the country, by the adoption of the order to take up and consider nothing but what was contained in, or recommended by, the President's message. He contended, however, that the time proposed in the amendment of the gentleman from Georgia was too short for the deliberation of a measure of such importance as the one adverted to. The Senate, consisting of only fifty members, had been discussing this very bill, the sub-Treasury scheme, for about three weeks, while a single fortnight only was to be allowed for the discussion, not only of that measure, but of the resolution on the subject of a national bank, the Mississippi election, the State hank project, and all, in a body of nearly two hundred members, consisting of the direct representatives from the people.

Mr. P. moved to postpone the further consideration of the whole subject till Monday next.

Mr. THOMPSON agreed with his colleague [Mr. PICKENS] as to the importance of the change of policy proposed. A change from a paper system to a hard money system, so fatal and disastrous to the country, he would not suffer to be made without some deliberation. He wished to go home and consult with his constituents upon this subject. We were now in a state of separation from the banks; and, therefore, as we were now in the full fruition of its advantages, he did not see that any thing was to be lost by the postponement of the divorce bill till the next session. All that sustained the little confidence that still lingered in the country was the hope that something would be done for its relief. His colleague need not, therefore, be afraid that the banks would resume during the recess. He feared there was little hope of it.

Mr. BOON moved the previous question, which was not seconded by a majority of the House: Yeas 72, nays 102. Mr. CAMBRELENG moved to suspend the rules so as to take the question on each amendment successively. The SPEAKER declared such a motion to be out of order.

Mr. WISE did not believe it was the intention of the administration to take up the sub-Treasury scheme at all. He inquired of the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, and begged he would answer him candidly and fairly, if such was their intention, whether the day of adjournment was fixed at the 9th or the 16th instant?

Mr. CAMBRELENG would answer the gentleman. He could assure him that he would take the earliest opportunity to call up what the gentleman was disposed to call the sub-Treasury bill; and, so far from fearing to meet that question, I apprehend (said Mr. C.) that gentlemen will find no flinching here upon that subject; and we will see whether the gentleman from Massachusetts, according to a celebrated letter, will "toe the mark." Let us see what the gentleman will do. Let us have no noncommittalism.

In conclusion, he assured the gentleman, that whether they sat there for one week or two weeks, or even for six months, he should take the earliest opportunity of bringing that measure forward, after having disposed of the different measures of relief proposed for the country.

Mr. WISE. Just the answer I expected, Mr. Speaker. I feel now, more than ever, assured that the "opportunity"

[Oct. 2, 1837.

thus defined by the chairman will not very soon occur. The idea of a metallic currency, as a measure to be carried out, was farthest from the thoughts of the administration party in that House. He concurred with Mr. ADAMS, that, if this were so, Congress had better adjourn at once. The administration can adjourn us just when they please, and will do so. For himself, he said he came there to administer relief to the people; and, with the gentleman from Massachusetts, was ready to remain there not only till the first Monday in April next, but for twelve months, if necessary. He said that every movement made there convinced him that the administration had no intention of carrying out that plan. He hoped that the opposition, conservative and all, would unite in remaining there until it was fairly demonstrated that it was the friends of the administration who adjourned without giving relief to the country.

Many measures, as had truly been said, were here for our discussion and settlement, (continued Mr. WISE ;) among them was the plan of some of a national bank; another, that of the conservatives, of continuing the State banks as depositories of the public money; and a third, that of the sub-Treasury system-a system which was the very embodiment of that recommended in the President's message, and which recommendation every one could now see was insincere. His friend from South Carolina, [Mr. PICKENS,] who had come so warmly into the support, in advance, of this notable scheme, will discover his mistake ere long, and will find himself left in the lurch by the pretended advocates of his favorite measure of divorce. He will be left in the lurch.

Mr. W. here adverted to the change in the relative position of the two branches of Congress, which had recently been brought about. A large majority in the Senate, and a majority of two in the House, the latter not even originating its own revenue bills, while these bills, in both branches, are precisely the same, prepared, totidem verbis, exactly like each other, and sent on their way through the two Houses, pari passu!

Mr. CAMBRELENG here remarked that the bills presented several points of difference.

Mr. WISE replied that, in effect, they were precisely identical, and that such changes as had been made in them originated with the Senate.

Six or seven important bills were on the calendar to be acted on. None of these were to be taken up before the sub-Treasury bill, it appeared by the order in which they stood there. Mr. WISE said he understood the game to be played. The deposite banks are to be put in the power of the Government, The bills were ingeniously prepared; the order in which they were arranged was also politic, and such as was obviously designed to secure the passage of each, and the entire omission or defeat of the sub-Treasury bill. Then, what is to be hereafter said to the country in excuse for doing nothing for the relief of the people-the grand object of assembling here at this time? Why, "the House refused to pass the great measure of the sessionthe system of divorcing banks from State, and hence the failure to produce relief." Again would he say to his friends who had committed themselves in favor of this project, that they had better taken bond and security of the projectors to carry it out, before they gave in their adhesion to its support. The President had made, what had been claimed for him--a bold committal, but it was without the slighest idea that the measure he recommended would ever be adopted, even by his own friends. He was glad that the President had done this, and that, like Samson of old, he had become shorn of his strength by this the first act of committal in all his life. His administration had actually died before it had fairly commenced.

Mr. WISE hoped the House would vote to stay where they were, and hold the administration to their own plans, and see whether this proposition be not a gull-a snare-a

[blocks in formation]

trap. He hoped that all true conservatives, and all in opposition, will not consent to adjourn till all that has been proposed by the administration to be done has had a fair chance of being tried. Let us act, and let us talk, too. Enough has not been said in elucidation of the true position of our affairs. We have yet to travel a long road before adjournment should be thought of.

Mr. GLASCOCK contended that the bills proposed to be passed at this session did propose to afford substantial relief to the country. He alluded to the symptoins now becoming more and more apparent, of growing prosperity in the country, and to the measures now before Congress for the amelioration of public affairs. In doing this, he made some allusion to the vote of Mr. WISE, in 1834, in favor of introducing a bill establishing substantially the same subTreasury system which he now deprecates.

Mr. WISE explained. He had voted for the introduction of the bill in question, as a inatter of courtesy and comity towards a friend and colleague, who invoked his aid to bring the measure before the House, with the perfect understanding that he [Mr. WISE] would vote against it. He had always been, as now, opposed to the measure.

Mr. GLASCOCK resumed, and declared that he was satisfied with the explanation. He then expressed himself in favor of the 12th as the time of adjournment; and if that did not prevail, he should prefer adjourning on the 9th. He hoped, however, the motion to postpone would be rejected.

Mr. HAMER said that, from indications which had been already afforded by the action of the House, he had come to the conclusion that a large majority of the House had determined to adjourn some time before the first Monday of December next; but the question was, how long before that day? If it had taken the House four weeks to pass one bill, how long would it require to pass some half dozen which had been reported? This seemed like a plain sum in the rule of three; but he hoped the issue would not so turn out. He then went on to argue that, as the minds of the House were made up on nearly if not all of these bills, it would not take long to pass upon them; and this might as well be done by the 9th as by the 16th of the month. Two weeks certainly afforded ample time. As soon as a day was fixed, discussion would be restrained.

After some remarks of Mr. BRIGGS, who called him to order, as wandering from the point,

The question was put on Mr. PATTON's motion to postpone the subject, and it was negatived without a count. The question then recurring on striking out the 9th and inserting the 16th instant,

Mr. F. O. J. SMITH demanded the yeas and nays, which were ordered by the House; and, being taken, stood as follows:

YEAS--Messrs. Alexander, Heman Allen, Anderson, Andrews, Atherton, Beatty, Bell, Bicknell, Biddle, Birdsall, Brodhead, Bronson, Bynum, Cambreleng, J. Campbell, W. B. Carter, Chaney, Cheatham, Cilley, Cleveland, Clowney, Coles, Connor, Crary, Crockett, Cushman, DeGraff, Drongoole, Duncan, Edwards, Ewing, Farrington, Foster, Fry, Gallup, Gholson, James Graham, Grantland, Grant, Graves, Gray, Griffin, Hamer, Harlan, Harrison, Hawes, Haynes, Herod, Hoffman, Holsey, Holt, Hopkins, Howard, Hubley, R. M. T. Hunter, Thomas B. Jackson, Jabez Jackson, Joseph Johnson, Wm. Cost Johnson, Nathaniel Jones, John W. Jones, Kemble, Lawler, Legare, Leadbetter, Arphaxed Loomis, James M. Mason, Maury, McKay, Robert McClellan, McClure, McKim, Menefee, Mercer, Miller, Montgomery, Morgan, Samuel W. Morris, Muhlenberg, Noble, Ogle, Owens, Palmer, Parker, Parmenter, Patton, Paynter, Penny backer, Petrikin, Phelps, Pickens, Pope, Potts, Pratt, Prentiss, Ridgway, Rives, Robertson, Sheffer, Slade, Southgate, Spencer, Stewart, Taliaferro, Taylor, Titus, Toland, Tou

[H. OF R.

cey, Turney, Vail, Webster, Weeks, Albert S. White, Thomas T. Whittlesey, Wise-115.

NAYS-Messrs. Adams, J. W. Allen, Aycrigg, Beirne, Bond, Boon, Borden, Briggs, Buchanan, William B. Calhoun, J. Calhoon, William B. Campbell, Casey, Chambers, Chapman, Childs, Corwin, Craig, Cranston, Curtis, Darlington, Dawson, Davies, Deberry, Dennis, Dunn, Elmore, Evans, Everett, Fairfield, R. Fletcher, Fillmore, Rice Garland, Glascock, Goode, William Graham, Haley, Hall, Halsted, Hammond, Hastings, Hawkins, Henry, Ingham, Jenifer, Henry Johnson, Kilgore, Klingensmith, Lincoln, Logan, Andrew W. Loomis, Lyon, Marvin, S. Mason, Martin, May, Maxwell, A. McClellan, McKennan, Milligan, Mathias Morris, Calvary Morris, Murray, Naylor, Noyes, Patterson, Pearce, Peck, Phillips, Plumer, Potter, Rariden, Randolph, Reed, Reily, Rencher, Richardson, Rumsey, Russell, Augustine H. Shepperd, Charles Shepard, Shields, Sheplor, Sibley, Smith, Snyder, Stanly, Stratton, Thompson, Tillinghast, Towns, Underwood, Vanderveer, Wagener, John White, Elisha Whittlesey, Lewis Williams, Sherrod Williams, Jared W. Williams, Joseph L. Williams, C. H. Williams, Yell, Yorke-103. And the amendment was agreed to.

Mr. MERCER moved to postpone the further consideration of the resolution till the first Monday in April next, and asked for the yeas and nays, but the House refused to order them, and rejected the motion without a division.

Mr. SHERROD WILLIAMS, wishing, as he said, to see who would take the responsibility of voting to go home without doing any thing to relieve the country, asked the yeas and nays on the resolution as amended. They were ordered and taken, and resulted as follows:

YEAS-Messrs. Alexander, Anderson, Andrews, Atherton, Beatty, Beirne, Bicknell, Biddle, Birdsall, Boon, Borden, Briggs, Brodhead, Bronson, Bruyn, Buchanan, Cambreleng, J. Campbell, T. J. Carter, Casey, Chambers, Chaney, Chapman, Cilley, Cleveland, Clowney, Colce, Connor, Corwin, Craig, Crary, Curtis, Cushman, Darlington, Dawson, Davee, Davies, Deberry, DeGraff, Dromgoole, Duncan, Dunn, Edwards, Evans, Ewing, Farrington, Fairfield, Isaac Fletcher, Foster, Fry, Gallup, Glascock, James Graham, W. Graham, Grantland, Grant, Gray, Grennell, Haley, Hall, Halsted, Hammond, Hamer, Harlan, Harrison, Hawkins, Haynes, Henry, Herod, Holsey, Holt, Hopkins, Howard, Hubley, W. H. Hunter, Ingham, T. B. Jackson, Jabez Jackson, N. Jones, J. W. Jones, Kemble, Kilgore, Klingensmith, Lawler, Legare, Leadbetter, Lincoln, Logan, A.Loomis, A. W. Loomis, Lyon, J. M. Mason, Martin, Maxwell, McKay, R. McClellan, A. McClellan, McClure, McKim, McKennan, Miller, Montgomery, Moore, Morgan, S. W. Morris, Muhlenberg, Noble, Noyes, Ogle, Owens, Palmer, Parker, Parmenter, Paynter, Penny backer, Petrikin, Phelps, Pickens, Plumer, Potts, Potter, Pratt, Prentiss, Rariden, Randolph, Reed, Reily, Rencher, Richardson, Ridgway, Rives, Russell, Sheffer, A. H. Shepperd, Sheplor, Slade, Spencer, Stewart, Stratton, Taylor, Titus, Toland, Toucey, Towns, Turney, Vail, Vanderveer, Wagener, Weeks, A. S. White, J. White, Thomas T. Whittlesey, J. W. Williams-153.

NAYS--Messrs. Adams, H. Allen, J. W. Allen, Bell, Bond, W. B. Calhoun, J. Calhoon, W. B. Campbell, W. B. Carter, Cheatham, Childs, Cranston, Crockett, Elmore, Everett, Richard Fletcher, Fillmore, Rice Garland, Goode, Graves, Griffin, Hastings, Hawes, Robert M. T. Hunter, Jenifer, H. Johnson; J. Johnson, W. C. Johnson, Lewis, Marvin, Samson Mason, Maury, May, Menefee, Mercer, Milligan, M. Morris, C. Morris, Murray, Naylor, Patterson, Patton, Pearce, Peck, Phillips, Pope, Robertson, Rumsey, C. Shepard, Shields, Sibley, Snyder, Southgate, Stanly, Taliaferro, Tillinghast, Underwood, Webster, E. Whittlesey, L. Williams, S. Williams, J. L. Williams, C. H. Williams, Yell, Yorke-65.

[blocks in formation]

So the House adopted the joint resolution of the Senate, with an amendment, fixing the 16th of October as the day for the adjournment of the present session of Congress; and it was sent to the Senate for their concurrence with the House in the amendment. [The Senate concurred accordingly.]


The House then proceeded to the consideration of the business of the morning hour, being the report of the Committee of Elections, which was accompanied by the following resolution :

Resolved, That Samuel J. Gholson and John F. H. Claiborne are duly elected members of the twenty-fifth Congress, and as such are entitled to take their seats.

The question pending was the motion of Mr. MAURY to strike out all after the word "resolved," and insert, "that Samuel J. Gholson and John F. H. Claiborne, not being duly elected members of the House of Representatives of the twenty-fifth Congress of the United States, are not entitled to seats on this floor as such."

Mr. BUCHANAN addressed the House as follows: Mr. Speaker, after the very lucid argument of my colleague on the Committee of Elections, [Mr. PENNY BACKEn,] fortified as it was by the views of my other colleague on the committee, [Mr. BRONSON,] I certainly should have considered it wholly unnecessary for me to advance a single word in support of the report of the committee, had it not been for some objections and arguments advanced by gentlemen opposed to the report, which have not been answered as fully as, in my opinion, they might be. The objections made to the credentials of the members elect, seems now to be waved by the gentleman from Tennessee, [Mr. MAURY ;] but as the objection was made, and the foundation of it stated to the House, I may be indulged in stating my reasons why it should not prevail. It was stated, and truly stated, that the act of the Mississippi Legislature required the Governor to deliver to the persons elected, proper credentials under his hand and the great seal of the State. This requisition the Governor has not strictly complied with; the credentials produced are under the great seal of State, and signed by the secretary. Now the question arises, if the Governor neglects or refuses to perform his duty, by non-compliance with the law, is that to prevent the gentlemen from taking their seats? Will they not be entitled to their seats on production of other sufficient testimony to show they were duly clected? Unquestionably they would. Is it not the common practice for the Committee of Elections to look beyond the credentials produced, and inquire into the regularity of the election in all its parts. If they had the certificate exactly in accordance with the act of Mississippi, it would only be prima facie evidence of their right to seats in the House; it would not be conclusive, neither is a want of it conclusive against them. The gentlemen from Mississippi stand on the same footing in this respect as all other members; they appear and take their seats, and it is presumed they have sufficient credentials, unless their right is by some person contested. This is the course pursued towards every member of the House. No person has attempted to contest the sufficiency of the credentials of the gentlemen from Mississippi. They were not contested in committee, and ought not to be now. But supposing the House choses to go voluntarily into that matter, it appears to me the objection to the credentials must fail; the certificate, to be sure, is not signed by the Governor, but it is under the great seal of State, and signed by the Secretary, and as this is nothing more than a mere ministerial act, it may be performed by the Secretary, by command of the Governor. But supposing the certificate bad, in this respect, because it is not actually signed by the Governor, yet it may be received as evidence, not under the act of Assembly, but as the act of a high and responsible officer to whom the re

[ocr errors]

[OCT. 2, 1837.

turns of election are entrusted, and whose duty it is to preserve them. From what source could more satisfactory testimony be received? It must be conclusive as to the result of the election, in the absence of all evidence to the contrary. The great argument which is advanced and strongly relied on by gentlemen in opposition to the report of the committee is, that many of the States, by law, hold their elections for members of Congress subsequent to the 3d of March, at which time the term of office of their predecessors expired; and, consequently, if this makes such a vacancy as, by the constitution, was intended to be filled by authority of the Governor, as the words of the constitution are imperative, he is not at liberty to wait for the operation of the general election laws for filling the vacancy, but must proceed at once after the 3d of March to issue his writs of election. Thus would the Governor be bound, by the constitution, the paramount law, to nullify the election laws of his State in those cases. Hence gentlemen argue that this is not the kind of vacancy intended by the constitution to be filled by a special election held under the authority of the Governor. This argument is more specious than solid. In order to give it any weight, it must be assumed that there was some real necessity for holding the elections at so late a period as to permit a vacancy in the office to exist. If gentlemen can satisfy me that there is any provision in the constitution of the United States which renders it necessary that a vacancy of this kind should happen, then I would admit the argument to have great weight; but so far from any provision of that kind being found in the constitution, according to my view of it, the very reverse is intended; I have no doubt the intention of the framers of that institution was, that no vacancy of the kind now under discussion should ever exist. This view of the subject is fortified by the practice of a large proportion of the States. I take it, then, the argument is unsound which would draw the conclusion of unconstitutionality in the Mississippi election, from acts which (if not inconsistent with the constitution themselves) are by no means authorized, or by it rendered necessary for any legal purpose whatever.

The only questions presented to the committee were as to the legality of the Governor's writ, and whether or not a vacancy had happened, within the meaning of the constitution, to authorize the holding of a special election to fill it. With respect to the first, I cannot believe any difficulty exists in any quarter. That part of the writ which would seem to restrict the services of the gentlemen to be elected to the extra session, was beyond the power of the Governor, and, the writ being perfect without it, the election is good for the whole constitutional term of the 25th Congress. Such seems to be the understanding of every member who has spoken on the subject, and of course it requires no remarks of mine. The only question then is, what is the meaning of the word "happen," as expressed in the constitution? Had a vacancy in the representation of the State of Mississippi happened? The word "happen" is a generic term, one species of which, to be sure, means chance; but is that its only meaning? Certainly not; it embraces in its meaning any thing which occurs or comes to pass. The word, then, is broad enough to embrace the case in question. A vacancy in the representation existed, brought about by the expiration of the term for which the members in the preceding Congress were clected. The same evil, a want of representation of the State in the Congress of the United States, would exist in this case as well as in that produced by death or resignation. Why, then, not apply the remedy prescribed by the constitution? One gentleman contends the Governor ought to have convened the Legislature and let them provide the remedy by a special act; but, independent of the trouble and expense of such a proceeding, it is evident that, in many cases, it would not or could not afford an adequate remedy.

« ПретходнаНастави »