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is specified and guarded. Keeping that constantly in view, the means necessary to its attainment must be left to the sound and responsible discretion of the public functionary. Intrench him as you please, employ what language you may, in the constitutional instrument, s necessary and proper," " indispensably necessary,” or any other, and the question is still left open. Does the proposed measure fall within the
scope of the incidental power, circumscribed as it may be ? Your safety against abuse must rest in his intesest, his integrity, his responsibility to the exercise of the elective franchise; finally, in the ultimate right, when all other redress fails, of an appeal to the remedy, to be used only in extreme cases, of forcible resistance against intolerable oppression.
Doubtless, by an extravagant and abusive enlargement of incidental powers, the State governments may be reduced within too narrow limits. Take any power, however incontestably granted to the general government, and employ that kind of process of reasoning in which the gentleman from Virginia is so skilful, by tracing it to its remotest effects, you may make it absorb the powers of the State governments. Pursue the opposite course; take
any incontestable power belonging to the State governments, and follow it out into all its possible ramifications, and you make it thwart and defeat the great operations of the government of the whole. This is the consequence of our systems. Their harmony is to be preserved only by forbearance, liberality, practical good sense, and mutual concession. Bring these dispositions into the administrations of our various institutions, and all the dreaded conflicts of authorities will be found to be perfectly imaginary.
I disclaim, for myself, several sources to which others have ascended, to arrive at the power in question. In making this disclaimer, I mean to cast no imputation on them. I am glad to meet them by whatever road they travel, at the point of a constitutional conclusion. Nor do their positions weaken mine ; on the contrary, if correctly taken, and mine also are justified by fair interpretation, they add strength to mine. But I feel it my duty, frankly and sincerely, to state my own views of the constitution. In coming to the ground on which I make my stand to maintain the power, and where I am ready to meet its antagonist, I am happy, in the outset, to state my hearty concurrence with the gentleman from
Virginia, in the old 1798 republican principles—now become federal also-by which the constitution is to be interpreted. I agree with him, that this is a limited government, that it has no powers but the granted powers; and that the granted powers are those which are expressly enumerated, or such as, being implied, are necessary and proper to effectuate the enumerated powers. And, if I do not show the power over federative, national, internal improvements, to be fairly deducible, after the strictest application of these principles, I entreat the committee unanimously to reject the bill. The gentleman from Virginia has rightly anticipated, that, in regard to roads, I claim the power under the grant to establish post offices and post roads. The whole question, on this part of the subject, turns upon the true meaning of this clause, and that again upon the genuine signification of the word "establish.” According to my understanding of it, the meaning of it is, to fix, to make firm, to build. According to that of the gentleman from Virginia, it is to designate, to adopt. Grammatical criticism was to me always unpleasant, and I do not profess to be any proficient in it. But I will confidently appeal, in support of my definition, to any vocabulary whatever, of respectable authority, and to the common use of the word. That it cannot mean only adoption is to me evident, for adoption presupposes establishment, which is precedent in its very nature. That which does not exist, which is not established, cannot be adopted. There is, then, an essential difference between the gentleman from Virginia and
I consider the power as original and creative; he as derivative, adoptive. But I will show, out of the mouth of the President himself, who agrees with the gentleman from Virginia, as to the sense of this word, that what I contend for is its genuine meaning. The President, in almost the first lines of his message to this House, of the fourth of May, 1822, returning the Cumberland bill with his veto, says, "a power to establish turnpikes, with gates and tolls, &c., implies a power to adopt and execute a complete system of internal improvement.” What is the sense in which the word " establish" is here used ? Is it not creative ? Did the President mean to adopt or designate some pre-existing turnpikes, with gates, &c., or for the first time to set them up, under the authority of Congress ? Again, the President
says, - If it exist as to one road, (that is, the power to lay duties of transit, and to take the land on a valuation,) it exists as to any other, and to as many roads as Congress may think proper to “ establish.” In what sense does he here employ the word ? The
truth is, that the President could employ no better than the constitutional word, and he is obliged to use it in the precise sense for which I contend. But I go to a higher authority than that of the chief magistrate to that of the constitution itself. In expounding that instrument, we must look at all its parts; and if we find a word, the meaning of which it is desirable to obtain, we may safely rest upon the use which has been made of the same word in other parts of the instrument. The word " establish” is one of frequent recurrence in the constitution; and I venture to say that it will be found uniformly to express the same idea. In the clause enumerating our powers “Congress has power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization,” &c.; in the preamble, “ We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, &c., do ordain and cstablish this constitution,” &c:; what pre-existing code of justice was adopted? Did not the people of the United States, in this high sovereign act, contemplate the construction of a code adapted to their federal condition? The sense of the word, as contended for, is self-evident when applied to the constitution.
But let us look at the nature, object, and purposes of the power. The trust confided to Congress is one of the most beneficial character. It is the diffusion of information among all the parts of this republic. It is the transmission and circulation of intelligence; it is to communicate knowledge of the laws and acts of government, and to promote the great business of society in all its relations. This is a great trust, capable of being executed in a highly salutary manner. It can be executed only by Congress, and it should be as well performed as it can be, considering the wants and exigencies of government. And here I beg leave to advert to the principle which I some time ago laid down, that the powers granted to this government are to be carried into execution by its own inherent force and energy, without necessary dependance upon the State governments. If my construction secures this object; and if that of my opponents places the execution of this trust at the pleasure and mercy of the State governments, we must reject theirs, and assume mine. But the construction of the President does make it so dependant. He contends that we can only use as post roads those which the States shall have previously established; that they are at liberty to alter, to change, and of course to shut them up at pleasure. It results from this view of the President, that any of the great mail routes now existing, that,
for example, from south to north, may be closed at pleasure or by caprice, by any one of the States, or its authorities, through which it passes-by that of Delaware, or any other. Is it possible that that construction of the constitution can be correct, which allows a law of the United States, enacted for the good of the whole, to be obstructed or defeated in its operation by any one of twenty-four sovereigns ? The gentleman from Virginia, it is true, denies the right of a State to close a road which has been designated as a post road. But suppose the State, no longer having occasion to use it for its own separate and peculiar purposes, withdraws all care and attention from its preservation. Can the State be compelled to repair it? No! the gentleman from Virginia must say; and I will say, May not the general government repair this road which is abandoned by the State power? May it not repair it in the most efficacious manner? And
may protect and defend that which it has thus repaired, and which there is no longer an interest or inclination in the State to protect and defend ? Or does the gentleman mean to contend that a road may exist in the statute book, which a State will not, and the general government cannot, repair and improve ? And what sort of an account should we render to the people of the United States, of the execution of the high trust confided for their benefit to us, if we were to tell them that we had failed to execute it, because a State would not make a road for us?
The roads, and other internal improvements of States, are made in reference to their individual interests. It is the eye only of the whole, and the
power of the whole, that can look to the interests of all. In the infancy of the government, and in the actual state of the public treasury, it
may be the only alternative left us to use those roads, which are made for State purposes, to promote the national object, ill as they may be adapted to it. It may never be necessary to make more than a few great national arteries of communication, leaving to the States the lateral and minor ramifications. Even these should only be executed, without pressure upon the resources of the country, and according to the convenience and ability of government. But, surely, in the performance of a great national duty imposed upon this government, which has for its object the distribution of intelligence, civil, commercial, literary, and social, we ought to perform the substance of the trust, and not content ourselves with a mere inefficient paper execution of it. If I am right in these views, the pyer to
establish post roads being in its nature original and creative, and the government having adopted the roads made by State means only from its inability to exert the whole extent of its authority, the controverted power is expressly granted to Congress, and there is an end of the question.
It ought to be borne in mind, that this power over roads was not contained in the articles of confederation, which limited Congress to the establishment of post-offices; and that the general character of the present constitution, as contrasted with those articles, is that of an cnlargement of power. But, if the construction of my opponents be correct, we are left precisely where the articles of confederation left us, notwithstanding the additional words contained in the present constitution. What, too, will the gentleman do with the first member of the clause to establish post offices? Must Congress adopt, designate, some pre-existing office, established by State authority? But there is none such. May it not then fix, build, create, establish offices of its own?
The gentleman from Virginia sought to alarm us by the awful emphasis with which he set before us the total extent of post roads in the Union. Eighty thousand miles of post roads ! exclaimed the gentleman; and you will assert for the general government jurisdiction, and erect turnpikes, on such an immense distance ? Not to-day, nor to-morrow; but this government is to last, I trust, for ever; we may at least hope it will endure until the wave of population, cultivation, and intelligence shall have washed the Rocky mountains, and have mingled with the Pacific. And may we not also hope that the day will arrive when the improvements and the comforts of social life shall spread over the wide surface of this vast continent ? All this is not to be suddenly done. Society must not be burdened or oppressed. Things must be gradual and progressive. The same species of formidabıe array which the gentleman makes, might be exhibited in reference to the construction of a navy, or any other of the great purposes of government. We might be told of the fleets and vessels of great maritime powers, which whiten the ocean; and triumphantly asked if we should vainly attempt to cope with or rival that tremendous power? And we should shrink from the effort, if we were to listen to his counsels, in hopeless despair. Yes, sir, it is a subject of peculiar delight to me to look forward to the proud