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negroes, to occupy the fort, and declares his might be rendered doubtful. Denmark had purpose to possess himself of it, in either of the only a nominal independence. She was, in two contingencies, of its being in their hands, truth, subject to his sway. We said to her, or in the hands of the Spaniards. He assumed Give us your fleet; it will otherwise be taken a right to judge what Spain was bound to do by possession of by your secret and our open enemy, her treaty, and judged very correctly; but then We will preserve it, and restore it to you whenhe also assumed the power, belonging to Con- ever the danger shall be over. Denmark regress alone, of determining what should be the fused. Copenhagen was bombarded, gallantly effect and consequence of her breach of engage-defended, but the fleet was seized.” Everyment. General Jackson generally performs where the conduct of England was censured; what he intimates his intention to do. Accord- and the name even of the negotiator who was ingly, finding St. Marks yet in the hands of the employed by her, who was subsequently the minSpaniards, he seized and occupied it was ever, ister near this government, was scarcely ever I ask, the just confidence of the legislative body, pronounced here without coupling with it an in the assurances of the chief magistrate, more epithet indicating his participation in the disabused? The Spanish commander intimated graceful transaction. And yet we are going to his willingness that the American army should sanction acts of violence, committed by ourtake post near him, until he could have instruc- selves, which but too much resemble it! What tions from his superior officer, and promised to an important difference, too, between the relamaintain, in the mean time, the most friendly tive condition of England and of this country! relations. No! St. Marks was a convenient She, perhaps, was struggling for her existence. post for the American army, and delay was in- She was combating, single-handed, the most admissible. I have always understood that the enormous military power that the world has Indians but rarely take or defend fortresses, be- ever known. With whom were we contending? cause they are unskilled in the modes of attack with a few half-starved, half-clothed, wretched and defence. The threat, therefore, on their Indians, and fugitive slaves. And while carpart, to seize on St. Marks, must have been rying on this inglorious war, inglorious as it reempty, and would probably have been impossi- gards the laurels or renown won in it, we vioble. At all events, when General Jackson ar- late neutral rights, which the government had rived there, no danger any longer threatened solemnly pledged itself to respect, upon the printhe Spaniards, from the miserable fugitive In- ciple of convenience, or upon the light presumpdians, who fled on all sides upon his approach. tion that, by possibility, a post might be taken by And, sir, upon what plea is this violation of this miserable combination of Indians and slaves. orders, and this act of war upon a foreign power, On the 8th of April the general writes from attempted to be justified ? Upon the grounds St. Marks that he shall march for the Suwaney of the conveniency of the depot and the Indian river; the destroying of the establishments on threat. The first I will not seriously examine which will, in his opinion, bring the war to a and expose. If the Spanish character of the close. Accordingly, having effected that obfort had been totally merged in the Indian char-ject, he writes, on the 20th of April, that he acter, it might have been justifiable to seize it. believes he may say that the war is at an end But that was not the fact; and the bare possi- for the present. He repeats the same opinion bility of its being forcibly taken by the Indians in his letter to the Secretary of War, written could not justify our anticipating their blow. six days after. The war being thus ended, it Of all the odious transactions which occurred might have been hoped that no further hostiliduring the late war between France and Eng- ties would be committed. But on the 23d of land, none was more condemned in Europe and May, on his way home, he receives a letter from in this country, than her seizure of the fleet of the commandant of Pensacola, intimating his Denmark, at Copenhagen. And I lament to be surprise at the invasion of the Spanish territory, obliged to notice the analogy which exists in and the acts of hostility performed by the Amerthe defences made of the two cases.
ican army, and his determination, if persisted If my recollection does not deceive me, Bo- in, to employ force to repel them. Let us pause naparte had passed the Rhine and the Alps, had and examine the proceeding of the governor, so conquered Italy, the Netherlands, Holland, very hostile and affrontive in the view of GeneHanover, Lubec, and Hamburg, and extended ral Jackson. Recollect that he was governor his empire as far as Altona, on the side of Den- of Florida ; that he had received no orders from mark. A few days' march would have carried his superiors to allow a passage to the American him through Holstein, over the two Belts, army; that he had heard of the reduction of through Funen, and into the island of Zealand. St. Marks; and that General Jackson, at the What then was the conduct of England ? It head of his army, was approaching in the direcwas my lot to fall into conversation with an in. tion of Pensacola. He had seen the president's telligent Englishman on this subject. “We message of the 25th of March, and reminded knew (said he) that we were fighting for our General Jackson of it, to satisfy him that the existence. It was absolutely necessary that we American government could not have authorshould preserve the command of the seas. If |ized all those measures. I cannot read the althe fleet of Denmark fell into the enemy's hands, lusion made by the governor to that message combined with his other fleets, that command | without feeling that the charge of insincerity
which it implied had, at least, but too much the eral Jackson to have done in attacking Pensacola appearance of truth in it. Could the governor for an Indian town, by attempting the defence have done less than write some such letter? We both of the President and General Jackson. If have only to reverse situations, and suppose it were right in him to seize the place, it is imhim to have been an American governor. possible that it should have been right in the General Jackson says that when he received President immediately to surrender it. We, that letter he no longer hesitated. No, sir, he sir, are the supporters of the President. We did no longer hesitate. He received it on the regret that we cannot support General Jackson 23d, he was in Pensacola on the 24th, and im- also. The gentleman's liberality is more commediately after set himself before the fortress of prehensive than ours. I approve with all my San Carlos de Barancas, which he shortly re- heart of the restoration of Pensacola. I think duced. “Veni, vidi, vici.” Wonderful energy! St. Marks ought, perhaps, to have been also Admirable promptitude! Alas! that it had not restored; but I say this with doubt and diffibeen an energy and a promptitude within the dence. That the President thought the seizure pale of the constitution, and according to the of the Spanish posts was an act of war, is maniorders of the chief magistrate. It is impossible fest from his opening message, in which he to give any definition of war that would not says that, to have retained them, would have comprehend these acts. It was open, undis- changed our relations with Spain, to do which guised, and unauthorized hostility.
the power of the executive was incompetent, The honorable gentleman from Massachusetts Congress alone possessing it. The President has endeavored to derive some authority to Gen- has, in this instance, deserved well of his couneral Jackson from the message of the president, try. He has taken the only course which he and the letter of the Secretary of War to Gov- could have pursued, consistent with the constiernor Bibb. The message declares that the tution of the land. And I defy the gentleman Spanish authorities are to be respected where to make good both his positions, that the genever maintained. What the president means eral was right in taking, and the President right by their being maintained is explained in the in giving up, the posts. orders themselves, by the extreme case being put of the enemy seeking shelter under a Span- Mr. Holmes explained. ish fort. If even in that case he was not to attack, certainly he was not to attack in any case The gentleman from Massachusetts is truly of less strength. The letter to Governor Bibb unfortunate; fact or principle is always against admits of a similar explanation. When the him. The Spanish posts were not in the possecretary says, in that letter, that General Jack- session of the enemy. One old Indian only was son is fully empowered to bring the Seminole found in the Barancas, none in Pensacola, none war to a conclusion, he means that he is so in St. Marks. There was not even the color of empowered by his orders, which, being now be- a threat of Indian occupation as it regards Penfore us, must speak for themselves. It does sacola and the Barancas. Pensacola was to be not appear that General Jackson ever saw that restored unconditionally, and might, therefore, letter, which was dated at this place after the immediately have come into the possession of capture of St Marks. I will take a momentary the Indians, if they had the power and the glance at the orders.
will to take it. The gentleman is in a dilemma On the 2d of December, 1817, General Gaines from which there is no escape. He gave up was forbidden to cross the Florida line. Seven General Jackson when he supported the Presi. days after, the Secretary of War having arrived dent, and gave up the President when he suphere, and infused a little more energy into our ported General Jackson. I rejoice to have seen councils, he was authorized to use a sound dis- the President manifesting, by the restoration of cretion in crossing or not. On the 16th, he Pensacola, his devotedness to the constitution. he was instructed again to consider himself at When the whole country was ringing with liberty to cross the line, and pursue the enemy; plaudits for its capture, I said, and I said alone, but, if he took refuge under a Spanish fortress, in the limited circle in which I moved, that the the fact was to be reported to the Department President must surrender it; that he could not of War. These orders were transmitted to Gen- hold it. It is not my intention to inquire, eral Jackson, and constituted, or ought to have whether the army was or was not constitutionconstituted, his guide. There was then no jus- ally marched into Florida. It is not a clear tification for the occupation of Pensacola, and question, and I am inclined to think that the the attack on the Barancas, in the message of express authority of Congress ought to have the President, the letter to Governor Bibb, or been asked. The gentleman from Massachuin the orders themselves. The gentleman from setts will allow me to refer to a part of the corMassachusetts will pardon me for saying, that respondence at Ghent different from that which he has undertaken what even his talents are not he has quoted. He will find the condition of competent to—the maintenance of directly con- the Indians there accurately defined. And it is tradictory propositions, that it was right in widely variant from the gentleman's ideas on General Jackson to take Pensacola, and wrong this subject. The Indians, inhabiting the United in the President to keep it. The gentleman has States, according to the statement of the Amermade a greater mistake than he supposes Gen- | ican commissioners at Ghent, have a qualified sovereignty only, the supreme sovereignty resid- | not preserve the liberties of his devoted couning in the Government of the United States. try! The celebrated Madame de Staël, in her They live under their own laws and customs, last and perhaps her best work, has said, that in may inhabit and hunt their lands; but acknowl, the very year, almost the very month, when edge the protection of the United States, and the president of the directory declared that have no right to sell their lands but to the Gov- monarchy would never more show its frightful ernment of the United States. Foreign powers head in France, Bonaparte, with his grenadiers, or foreign subjects have no right to maintain entered the palace of St. Cloud, and dispersing, any intercourse with them, without our permis- with the bayonet, the deputies of the people, sion. They are not, therefore, independent na- deliberating on the affairs of the State, laid the tions, as the gentleman supposes. Maintaining foundation of that vast fabric of despotism the relation described with them, we must which overshadowed all Europe. I hope not allow a similar relation to exist between Spain to be misunderstood; I am far from intimaand the Indians residing within her dominions. ting that General Jackson cherishes any designs She must be, therefore, regarded as the sover- inimical to the liberties of the country. I beeign of Florida, and we are, accordingly, treat- lieve his intentions to be pure and patriotic. I ing with her for the purchase of it. In strict- thank God that he would not, but I thank him ness, then, we ought first to have demanded of still more that he could not if he would, overher to restrain the Indians, and, that failing, we turn the liberties of the Republic. But preceshould have demanded a right of passage for dents, if bad, are fraught with the most dangerour army. But, if the President had the ous consequences. Man has been described, by power to march an army into Florida, without some of those who have treated of his nature, conşulting Spain, and without the authority of as a bundle of habits. The definition is much Congress, he had no power to authorize any truer when applied to governments. Precedents act of hostility against her. If the gentleman are their habits. There is one important differhad even succeeded in showing that an author- ence between the formation of habits by an ity was conveyed by the executive to General | individual and by governments. He contracts Jackson to take the Spanish posts, he would only only after frequent repetition. A single instance have established that unconstitutional orders fixes the habit and determines the direction of had been given, and thereby transferred the governments. Against the alarming doctrine disapprobation from the military officer to the of unlimited discretion in our military comexecutive. But no such orders were, in truth, manders when applied even to prisoners of war, given. The President acted in conformity to I must enter my protest. It begins upon them; the constitution, when he forbade the attack it will end on us. I hope our happy form of of a Spanish fort, and when, in the same spirit, government is to be perpetual. But, if it is to he surrendered the posts themselves.
be preserved, it must be by the practice of virI will not trespass much longer upon the tue, by justice, by moderation, by magnanimity, time of the committee; but I trust I shall be by greatness of soul, by keeping a watchful and indulged with some few reflections upon the steady eye on the executive; and, above all, by danger of permitting the conduct on which it holding to a strict accountability the military has been my painful duty to animadvert, to branch of the public force. pass without the solemn expression of the dis- We are fighting a great moral battle, for the approbation of this House. Recall to your benefit not only of our country, but of all manrecollection the free nations which have gone kind. The eyes of the whole world are in fixed before us. Where are they now?
attention upon us. One, and the largest portion
of it, is gazing with contempt, with jealousy, “Gone glimmering through the dream of things that and with envy; the other portion, with hope,
were, A school-boy's tale, the wonder of an hour.”
with confidence, and with affection. Every:
where the black cloud of legitimacy is suspended And how have they lost their liberties? If over the world, save only one bright spot, which we could transport ourselves back to the ages breaks out from the political hemisphere of the when Greece and Rome flourished in their west, to enlighten, and animate, and gladden greatest prosperity, and mingling in the throng, the human heart. Obscure that by the downshould ask a Grecian if he did not fear that fall of liberty here, and all mankind are ensome daring military chieftain, covered with shrouded in a pall of universal darkness. To glory, some Philip or Alexander, would one you, Mr. Chairman, belongs the high privilege day overthrow the liberties of his country, the of transmitting, unimpaired, to posterity, the confident and indignant Grecian would exclaim, fair character and liberty of our country. Do No! nol we have nothing to fear from our you expect to execute this high trust, by heroes; our liberties will be eternal. If a trampling or suffering to be trampled down, Roman citizen had been asked, if he did not law, justice, the constitution, and the rights of fear that the conqueror of Gaul might establish the people by exhibiting examples of inhua throne upon the ruins of public liberty, he manity, and cruelty, and ambition? When the would have instantly repelled the unjust insinua- minions of despotism heard, in Europe, of the tion. Yet Greece fell; Cæsar passed the Rubi- seizure of Pensacola, how did they chuckle, and con, and the patriotic arm even of Brutus could chide the admirers of our institutions, tauntingly pointing to the demonstration of a spirit of in- Mr. Johnson, the faithful and consistent sentinel justice and aggrandizement made by our coun- of the law and of the constitution, disapproved try, in the midst of an amicable negotiation! in that instance, as he does in this, and moved Behold, said they, the conduct of those who are an inquiry. The public mind remained agitated constantly reproaching kings! You saw how and unappeased, until the recent atonement so those admirers were astounded and hung their honorably made by the gallant commodore. heads. You saw, too, when that illustrious And is there to be a distinction between the man, who presides over us, adopted his pacific, officers of the two branches of the public sermoderate, and just course, how they once more vice? Are former services, however eminent, lifted up their heads with exultation and delight to preclude even inquiry into recent misconbeaming in their countenances. And you saw duct? Is there to be no limit, no prudential how those minions themselves were finally com- bounds to the national gratitude ? I am not pelled to unite in the general praises bestowed disposed to censure the President for not orderupon our government. Beware how you forfeiting a court of inquiry, or a general court-marthis exalted character. Beware how you give tial. Perhaps, impelled by a sense of gratitude, a fatal sanction, in this infant period of our re- he determined, by anticipation, to extend to the public, scarcely yet two-score years old, to mili- general that pardon which he had the undoubted tary insubordination. Remember that Greece right to grant after sentence. Let us not shrink had her Alexander, Rome her Cæsar, England from our duty. Let us assert our constitutional her Cromwell, France her Bonaparte, and that powers, and vindicate the instrument from miliit' we would escape the rock on which they split, tary violation. we must avoid their errors.
I hope gentleman will deliberately survey the How different has been the treatment of awful isthmus on which we stand. They may General Jackson and that modest, but heroic bear down all opposition; they may even vote young man, a native of one of the smallest the general the public thanks; they may carry States in the Union, who achieved for his coun- him triumphantly through this House. But, if try, on Lake Erie, one of the most glorious they do, in my humble judgment, it will be a victories of the late war. In a moment of triumph of the principle of insubordination, a passion, he forgot himself, and offered an act triumph of the military over the civil authority, of violence which was repented of as soon as a triumph over the powers of this House, à perpetrated. He was tried, and suffered the triumph over the constitution of the land. And judgment to be pronounced by his peers. Pub- I pray most devoutly to Heaven, that it may lic justice was thought not even then to be not prove, in its ultimate effects and consesatisfied. The press and Congress took up the quences, a triumph over the liberties of the subject. My honorable friend from Virginia, I people.
SPEECH ON INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT.
Mr. Clay delivered this speech, in the House reduce the argument to any thing that the consof Representatives of the United States, on the mittee will consider a reasonable compass.
It is known to all who hear me, that there sixteenth of January, 1824; on "a bill author
has now existed for several years a difference izing the President of the United States to of opinion between the executive and legislative cause certain surveys and estimates to be made branches of this government, as to the nature on the subject of roads and canals :"
and extent of certain powers conferred upon it
by the constitution. Two successive Presidents Mr. CHAIRMAN: I cannot enter on the dis- have returned to Congress bills which had precussion of the subject before us, without first viously passed both Houses of that body, with asking leave to express my thanks for the kind a communication of the opinion, that Congress, ness of the committee, in so far accommodating under the constitution, possessed no power to me as to agree, unanimously, to adjourn its enact such laws. High respect, personal and sitting to the present time, in order to afford official, must be felt by all, as it is due, to those me the opportunity of exhibiting my views; distinguished officers And to their opinions, which, however, I fear I shall do very unac- thus solemnly annourt d; and the most proceptably. As a requital for this kindness
, I will found consideration belongs to our present endeavor, as far as is practicable, to abbreviate chief magistrate, who has favored this House what I have to present to your consideration. with a written argument, of great length and Yet, on a question of this extent and moment, labor, consisting of not less than sixty or seventy there are so many topics which demand a de- pages, in support of his exposition of the conliberate examination, that, from the nature of stituton. From the magnitude of the interests the case, it will be impossible, I am afraid, to involved in the question, all will readily concur
that, if the power is granted, and does really post offices and post roads, to regulate comexist, it ought to be vindicated, upheld and merce among the several States, that in relation maintained, that the country may derive the to the judiciary, besides many other powers great benefits which may flow from its prudent indisputably belonging to the federal governexercise. If it has not been communicated to ment, are strictly municipal. If, as I underCongress, then all claim to it should be, at stood the gentleman in the course of the subseonce, surrendered. It is a circumstance of pe- quent part of his argument to admit, some culiar regret to me, that one more competent municipal powers belong to the one system, and than myself had not risen to support the course some to the other, we shall derive very little which the legislative department has heretofore aid from the gentleman's principle, in inaking felt itself bound to pursue on this great ques- the discrimination between the two. The tion. Of all the trusts which are created by question must ever remain open-whether any human agency, that is the highest, most solemn, given power, and, of course, that in question, and most responsible, which involves the exer- is or is not delegated to this government, or cise of political power. Exerted when it has retained by the States ? not been intrusted, the public functionary is The conclusion of the gentleman is, that all guilty of usurpation. And his infidelity to the internal improvenients belong to the State govpublic good is not, perhaps, less culpable, when ernments : that they are of a limited and local he neglects or refuses to exercise a power which character, and are not comprehended within has been fairly conveyed, to promote the public the scope of the federal powers, which relate prosperity. If the power, which he thus for- to external or general objects. bears to exercise, can only be exerted by him— perhaps most internal improvements, partake if no other public functionary can employ it, of the character described by the gentleman, I and the public good requires its exercise, his shall not deny. But it is no less true that there treachery is greatly aggravated. It is only in are others, emphatically national, which neither those cases where the object of the investment the policy, nor the power, nor the interests, of of power is the personal ease or aggrandizement any State will induce it to accomplish, and of the public agent, that his forbearance to use which can only be effected by the application it is praiseworthy, gracious, or magnanimous. of the resources of the nation. The improve
I was extremely happy to find, that, on many ment of the navigation of the Mississippi furof the points of the argument of the honorable nishes a striking example. This is undeniably gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Barbour, there is a great and important object. The report of a entire concurrence between us, widely as we highly scientific and intelligent officer of the differ in our ultimate conclusions. On this engineer corps (which I hope will be soon taken occasion (as on all others on which that gentle- up and acted upon) has shown that the cost of man obliges the House with an expression of any practicable improvement in the navigation his opinions), he displayed great ability and of that river, in the present state of the inhabingenuity; and, as well from the matter as itants of its banks, is a mere trifle in comparison from the respectful manner of his argument, it to the great benefits which would accrue from is deserving of the most thorough consideration. it. I believe that about double the amount of I am compelled to differ from that gentleman at the loss of a single steamboat and cargo (the the very threshold. He commenced by laying Tennessee) would effect the whole improvement down as a general principle, that, in the distri- in the navigation of that river, which ought to bution of powers among our federal and State be at this time attempted. In this great object governments, those which are of a municipal twelve States and two territories are, in different character are to be considered as appertaining degrees, interested. The power to effect the to the State governments, and those which improvement of that river is surely not municirelate to external affairs, to the general govern- pal, in the sense in which the gentleman used ment. If I may be allowed to throw the argu- the term. If it were, to which of the twelve ment of the gentleman into the form of a States and two territories concerned does it syllogism (a shape which I presume would be belong? It is a great object, which can only quite agreeable to him), it amounts to this : be effected by a confederacy. And here is municipal powers belong exclusively to the existing that confederacy, and no other can State governments; but the power to make in- lawfully exist: for the constitution prohibits ternal improvements is municipal ; therefore it the States, immediately interested, from enterbelongs to the State governments alone. I deny ing into any treaty or compact with each other. both the premises and the conclusion. If the Other examples might be given to show, that, gentleman had affirmed that certain municipal if even the power existed, the inclination to powers, and the great rches of them, belong to exert it would not be felt, to effectuate certain the State governments nis proposition would improvements eminently calculated to promote have been incontrovertible. "But if he had so the prosperity of the union. Neither of the qualified it, it would not have assisted the gen-three States, nor all of them united, through tleman at all in his conclusion. But surely the which the Cumberland road passes, would ever power of taxation, the power to regulate the have erected that road. Two of them would value of coin, the power to establish a uniform have thrown in every impediment to its comstandard of weights and measures, to establish pletion in their power. Federative in its char