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search after them. The judge gave an opinion, fairly and independently, as if he knew of no excitement, and no party; and the jury found no indictments. And the charge was still made, that the judge and the jurors were under the influence of party feelings. The sober citizens thought this a libel.

In other circumstances, this conduct would have been most decidedly condemned. For the governor of a state, or the president of the United States, to interfere with the opinions or decisions of the judges, especially on questions relating to political measures, or their own official conduct, would be considered very improper, by all disinterested men. On an occasion of more recent date, when it was conjectured that the president of the United States attempted to interfere with the decision. of the judges of the federal court, the people were alarmed at such conduct, as irregular and dangerous, and indignant at the arbitrary temper it manifested. A few days before the general court closed their winter session of 1812, Governor Gerry sent a message to them, on the subject of libels;* and while it was under consideration, a member of the senate of the federal party, offered the resolution following:-"That the governor, in denouncing various publications in the Boston papers as libels, after a grand jury on examination of them had refused to prefer indictments, manifests an alarming disposition to usurp the power belonging to the judiciary department, tending to criminate and injure the reputation of individuals, without affording them an apportunity for defence; and the employing of law officers of the commonwealth, in examining files of newspapers, for the purpose of collecting and divesting such publications, with a view of presenting them to the legislature, instead of a grand jury, is a departure from his constitutional province and an infringement on private rights." In support of the resolution, it was said, "that the

* In this message, the governor insisted that the court and the grand jury were partial; and that the judge in his exposition of the law was mistaken. He referred to the common law of England on libels, and contended that it was in force in this country; and that it was not to be inquired whether the libels (as he called them) in the papers were true, or not; and that it was enough to prove them libellous, that they were intended to render the persons or party alluded to, unpopular and obnoxious. It was the more remarkable, that Governor Gerry, as the advocate of the democratic party, should advance this doctrine of the common law on libels, when that party had made great objections to the sedition law of congress, in 1798, though it expressly provided that the truth might be given in evidence, as a justification. Judge Parsons, before this, had made a distinction between a publication against a private person, and a candidate for public office, or one in office; "that what would be a libel in the former case would not be in the latter, because the truth ought to be known of a public officer, or candidate for office, for the good of the people, and the preservation of liberty."

message of the governor was most extraordinary and alarming; striking at the fundamental principles of the constitution and of civil liberty; tending, if suffered to pass into a precedent, to break down the barriers enacted by the constitution for the safety of the people, and to destroy all personal liberty and security; that if the governor could thus put at defiance the privileges of trial by jury, and with his law officers dependent on himself, set in judgment on the printers, condemn them unheard, and proclaim their condemnation to the world, after the grand jury had refused to find bills against them, no class of citizens were safe, and all would be liable to the same exercise of power."

The dissatisfaction with measures of the general government, as they were deemed highly unfavorable to commerce, and indicative of a disposition in the administration to have a war with England, increased in Massachusetts, at this period; and as governor Gerry advocated those measures, he lost the support of some moderate men of his political party. The policy of Mr. Jefferson, in attempting to injure Great Britain by suspending commercial intercourse with that country, was pursued by President Madison. The people of Massachusetts had long complained of such a course, as more injurious to the United States than to England. And when the conduct of Mr. Madison and his cabinet indicated war with that nation, the people became still more alarmed and more ready to complain. A war, it was said, would be highly injurious to America; and it was not supposed necessary for the interest or honor of the government. The difficulties between the two nations, many contended, could be equitably adjusted by negotiation.



Governor Strong, 1812-His political opinions-Political character of the house-Bitterness of party feelings-Memorial against war-Governor's Speech-War declared against England-Call for the Militia-Objections to war-And to ordering out the militia-General order of the Governor, for the militia to be in readiness to repel invasion-Extra session of general court-The Governor's statement.

Ar the election in April, 1812, by great efforts on the part of the federalists, who then advocated peace, and the free pursuits of commerce, Caleb Strong was chosen governor, in opposition to Mr. Gerry, who had been in office two years, and had the support of the democratic party. The elections for the governor and members of the general court called forth uncommon exertions. Mr. Strong was elected by a very small majority of votes; but the majority of representatives was also federal, and was then distinguished as the peace party. The public mind was greatly excited, and the spirit of political parties manifested itself with more than common bitterness.


It was now five years since Governor Strong occupied the chair of state; and during this period he had kept entirely aloof from party politics. In his address to the general court, on this occasion, as at a former time, when there were severe disputes between the parties, he aimed rather to allay, than to excite political controversy. Yet he administered mild rebuke, by implication, in the following paragraphs, to those who were ready to use the power of office, rather to reward political friends, than for the public good. "Our constitution

* At the beginning of the session in May, 1812, before the declaration of hostilities by congress, but when it was heard the dominant party in that body were disposed to war, the representatives sent a memorial remonstrating against it, and praying that peace might be preserved. The votes were 406 for the memorial, and 240 against it.

forbids any exclusive pretensions to the honors of the state. Every class of men are entitled to partake of the same advantages, and have an equal and common right. If this is infringed, we may expect that discontents and animosities will prevail. We ought indeed, to select persons of ability and integrity for public employment. But if we make it a rule to advance only our political friends, we shall become the heads of a party, and be incapable of preserving, with equity and moderation, the rights of the whole people. In monarchies, the prince is the source of all power, and the fountain of honor and office. He therefore thinks himself authorized, in appointing his subordinate officers, to reward the attachment, and to purchase the future support, of his adherents. But, in republics, the people are possessed of the sovereign power, and legislators and magistrates, elected by them, are bound to employ their authority for the common benefit. They have no right to consider the power deputed to them as their own property, or to make vacancies or appointments, for selfish or party purposes. Should a contrary rule be established, it appears to me that political feuds would be endless and implacable. The persons in office, and their friends and retainers, would employ every method to prevent any change in an administration, while their rivals would be equally assiduous and eager to effect a change. From the frequency of our elections, there would scarcely be any interruptions in these struggles; and the longer they should continue, the greater would be their violence." Governor Strong, early in the session, submitted to his council, the propriety of restoring those persons to office, in the state, who, during the year preceding, had been removed solely for their political opinions, The council advised, that it would be proper and just that such persons should be placed in the respective offices, of which they had been deprived on account of party politics. Their restoration, or reappointment to office was accordingly made. A few weeks after Mr. Strong was inducted into office, war was declared against Great Britain, by the general government, as had been sometime apprehended. The country was very poorly prepared for war, though administration chose the time to make the declaration. Little preparation had been made even for defence on the seacoast, or for the protection of commerce, and navigation which were exposed to the hostile attacks of a powerful enemy, by this unnecessary measure. The president immediately called on the governors of the several states, for aid to protect the country, by the militia; while the few regular forces, which had been raised,

by the administration, were sent to invade the British province of Canada.

The opposition to these measures was powerful and extensive, especially in the commercial states. It was said, the war was unnecessary, if not unjust; as negotiations, in a proper spirit had not been fully tried; and it was strenuously contended, that it was improper to rely solely on the militia, when the war did not come unexpectedly on the federal rulers, but they had selected the time to begin it; and it was further insisted, that neither the executive nor the legislature of the federal government had authority, by the constitution, to call the militia into the field, except to repel sudden and unexpected invasion, when government had no time to meet it in any other manner. No invasion existed, nor imminently threatened; and it was argued that when it did, and there was no other defence, then, and then only, it would be proper to call on the militia. Another objection, but in some measure implied in the general one already noticed, was to the requisition for the militia, which proposed to send a part of them out of the state, to place others at a great distance from their homes, and to station them at a few places, to wait for an invasion, (as it might, or might not, happen in three or six months,) and leaving other places, equally exposed, entirely defenceless. It was considered, indeed, that the order from the federal administration for the militia, was assuming a power not warranted by the constitution, in the situation of the country, and was destroying the distinct character of the militia, who ought not to be treated as permanent troops might justly be: as the militia were to be employed only in case of an invasion, and for the defence of a portion of the country, till regular forces could be raised for the purpose.

Governor Strong probably had these or similar views, when he declined to call out the militia of Massachusetts, on a requisition made by officers of the general government, in June, 1812, soon after the declaration of war. To the first and second request for the militia he gave no reply; for he probably was in doubt, what the constitution had made his duty in such a case: and he was also aware that no invasion was about being made, or imminently threatened at that time. When requested a third time, by a military officer of the United States, acting under directions of the secretary of war, the governor directed a note to the war department; in which he said, "that he was disposed to comply with the requisitions of congress, and of the president, where the constitution made it clearly his duty; but that no invasion existed, or threatened,

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