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of the Constitution, demonstrated that it could not be derived from either of those powers specified, nor from all of them united, and that in consequence it did not exist.
These views, so distinct and unequivocal, were set forth by Mr. Monroe on the 4th of May, 1822, in a special message, addressed to Congress. In December, 1823, a bill was introduced into the House of Representatives, by which the President of the United States was authorized to cause the necessary surveys, plans, and estimates to be made, of the routes of such roads and canals as he may deem of national importance, in a commercial or military point of view, or necessary for the transportation of the public mail. This bill, it was understood, contemplated a scheme of internal improvement on the most extended scale; as such, it was discussed and voted upon. The debate was long, and was ably conducted. Mr. Clay, as usual, was the great champion of this as of all the other brilliant schemes of the day. It was natural, therefore, that he and Randolph should come in collision on all occasions. The one was the bold leader of a new school of politicians, sprung up out of the ruins of the old Hamiltonian dynasty, who by interpolation or construction made the Constitution mean any thing and every thing their ardent minds chose to aspire to. The other was the clear-sighted, consistent, and upright statesman, that stood by the old landmarks of republicanism, as they were laid down by the fathers of the faith; and never could be induced to depart from them by the hope of reward or the fear of denunciation. They were the Lucifer and the Michael of contending hosts :
“Now waved their fiery swords, and in the air
Of such commotion."
Nor number, nor example with him wrought
Mr. Randolph, on the 31st of January, 1824, delivered his sentiments at large on the bill. The reader must here also be content with a few paragraphs:
“During no very short course of public life," said Mr. R., “ I do not know that it has ever been my fortune to rise under as much embarrassment, or to address the House with as much repugnance as I now feel. That repugnance, in part, grows out of the necessity that exists for my taking some notice, in the course of my observations, of the argument, if argument it may be called, of an honorable member of this House, from Kentucky. And, although I have not the honor to know, personally, or even by name, a large portion of the members of this House, it is not necessary for me to indicate the cause of that repugnance. But this I may venture to promise the committee, that, in my notice of the argument of that member, I shall show, at least, as much deference to it, as he showed to the message of the President of the United States of America, on returning a bill of a nature analogous to that now before us—I say at least as much; I should regret if not more. With the argument of the President, however, I have nothing to do. I wash my hands of it, and will leave it to the triumph, the clemency, the mercy of the honorable gentleman of Kentucky—if, indeed, to use his own language, amid the mass of words in which it is enveloped, he has been able to find it. My purpose in regard to the argument of the gentleman from Kentucky is, to show that it lies in the compass of a nut-shell; that it turns on the meaning of one of the plainest words in the English language. I am happy to be able to agree with that gentleman in at least one particular, to wit: in the estimate the gentleman has formed of his own powers as a grammarian, philologer, and critic; particularly as those powers have been displayed in the dissertation with which he has favored the committee on the interpretation of the word establish.
**Congress,' says the Constitution, “shall have power to establish (ergo, says the gentleman, Congress shall have power to construct)
* One would suppose, that, if any thing could be considered as settled, by precedent in legislation, the meaning of the words of the Constitution must, before this time, have been settled, by the uniform sense in which that power has been exercised, from the commencement of the Government to the present time. What is the fact ? Your statute-book is loaded with acts for the establishment of postroads, and the post-master general is deluged with petitions for the • establishment of post-offices; and yet, we are now gravely debating on what the word establish' shall be held to mean! A curious predicament we are placed in: precisely the reverse of that of Molière's
citizen turned gentleman, who discovered, to his great surprise, that he had been talking prose' all his life long without knowing it. A
It is just so with all prosers, and I hope I may not cxemplify it in this instance. But, sir, we have been for five and thirty years establishing post-roads, under the delusion that we were exercising a power specially conferred upon us by the Constitution, while we were, according to the suggestion of the gentleman from Kentucky, actually committing treason, by refusing, for so long a time, to carry into effect that very article of the Constitution !
“To forbear the exercise of a power vested in us for the public good, not merely for our own aggrandizement, is, according to the argument of the gentleman from Kentucky, treachery to the Constitution! I, then, sir, must have commenced my public life in treason, and in treason am I doomed to end it. One of the first votes that I ever had the honor to give, in this House, was a vote against the establishment, if gentlemen please, of a uniform system of bankruptcy-a power as unquestionably given to Congress, by the Constitution, as the power to lay a direct tax. But, sir, my treason did not end there. About two years after the establishment of this uniform system of bankruptcy, I was particeps criminis, with almost the unanimous voice of this House, in committing another act of treachery in repealing it; and Mr. Jefferson, the President of the United States, in the commencement of his career, consummated the treason by putting his signature to the act of repeal. “ Miserable, indeed, would be the condition of every
free people, if, in expounding the charter of their liberties, it were necessary to go back to the Anglo-Saxon, to Junius and Skinner, and other blackletter etymologists. Not, sir, that I am very skilful in language: although I have learned from a certain curate of Brentford, whose name will survive when the whole contemporaneous bench of Bishops shall be buried in oblivion, that words—the counters of wise men, the money of fools—that it is by the dexterous cutting and shuffling of this pack, that is derived one-half of the chicanery, and much more than one-half of the profits of the most lucrative profession in the world—and, sir, by this dexterous exchanging and substituting of words, we shall not be the first nation in the world which has been cajoled, if we are to be cajoled, out of our rights and liberties.
“ In the course of the observations which the gentleman from Kentucky saw fit to submit to the committee, were some pathetic ejaculations on the subject of the sufferings of our brethren of the West. Sir, our brethren of the West have suffered, as our brethren throughout the United States, from the same cause, although with them the cause exists in an aggravated degree, from the acts of those to whom they have confided the power of legislation, by a departureand we have all suffered from it-I hope no gentleman will under
stand me, as wishing to make any invidious comparison between different quarters of our country, by a departure from the industry, the simplicity, the economy, and the frugality of our ancestors. They have suffered from a greediness of gain, that has grasped at the shadow while it has lost the substance—from habits of indolence, of profusion, of extravagance—from an aping of foreign manners and of foreign fashions—from a miserable attempt at the shabby genteel, which only serve to make our poverty more conspicuous. The
to remedy this state of suffering, is, to return to those habits of labor and industry, from which we have thus departed."
6. With these few remarks,” continued Mr. R., “ permit me now to recall the attention of the committee to the original design of this Government. It grew out of the necessity, indispensable and unavoidable, in the circumstances of this country, of some general power, capable of regulating foreign commerce. Sir, I am old enough to remember the origin of this Government; and, though I was too young to participate in the transactions of the day, I have a perfect recollection of what was public sentiment on the subject. And I repeat, without fear of contradiction, that the proximate, as well as the remote cause of the existence of the federal government, was the regulation of foreign commerce. Not to particularize all the difficulties which grew out of the conflicting laws of the States, Mr. R. referred to but one, arising from Virginia taxing an article which Maryland then made duty-free; and to that very policy, may be attributed, in a great degree, the rapid growth and prosperity of the town of Baltimore. If the old Congress had possessed the power of laying a duty of ten per cent. ad valorem on imports, this Constitution would never have been called into existence.
“ But we are told that, along with the regulation of foreign commerce, the States have yielded to the General Government, in as broad terms, the regulation of domestic commerce-I mean the commerce among the several States--and that the same power is possessed by Congress over the oue as over the other. It is rather unfortunate for this argument, that, if it applies to the extent to which the power to regulate foreign commerce has been carried by Congress, they may probibit altogether this domestic commerce, as they have heretofore, under the other power, prohibited foreign commerce.
* But why put extreme cases ? This Government cannot go on one day without a mutual understanding and deference between the State and General Governments. This Government is the breath of the nostrils of the States. Gentlemen may say what they please of the preamble to the Constitution ; but this Constitution is not the work of the amalgamated population of the then existing confederacy, but the offspring of the States; and however high we may carry our heads and strut and fret our hour dressed in a little brief authority, it is in the power of the States to extinguish this Government at a blow. They have only to refuse to send members to the other branch of the legislature, or to appoint electors of President and Vice-President, and the thing is done. Gentlemen will not understand me as seeking for reflections of this kind; but, like Falstaff's rebellion-I mean Worcester's rebellion—they lay in my way and I found them."
.“I remember to have heard it said elsewhere,” said Mr. R., “ that when gentlemen talk of precedent, they forget they were not in Westminster Hall. Whatever trespass I
may be guilty of
the attention of the Committee, one thing I will promise them, and will faithfully perform my promise. I will dole out to them no political metaphysics. Sir, I unlearned metaphysics almost as early as Fontenelle, and he tells us, I think, it was at nine years old. I shall say nothing about that word municipal. I am almost as sick of it as honest Falstaff was of security; it has been like rats bane in my mouth, ever since the late ruler in France took shelter under that word to pocket our money and incarcerate our persons, with the most profound respect for our neutral rights. I have done with the word municipal ever since that day. Let us come to the plain common sense construction of the Constitution. Sir, we live under a government of a peculiar structure, to which the doctrines of the European writers on civil polity do not apply; and when gentlemen get up and quote Vattel as applicable to the powers of the Constitution of the United States, I should as soon have expected them to quote Aristotle or the Koran. Our Government is not like the consolidated monarchies of the old world. It is a solar system ; an imperium in imperio ; and when the question is about the one or the other, what belong to the imperium and what to the imperio, we gain nothing by referring to Vattel. He treats of an integral government—a compact structure, totus teres atque rotundus. But ours is a system composed of two distinct governments; the one general in its nature, the other internal. Now, sir, a government may be admirable for external, and yet execrable for internal purposes. And when the question of power in the government arises, this is the problem which every honest man has to work. The powers of government are divided in our system between the General and State Governments, except such powers which the people have very wisely retained to themselves. With these exceptions, all the power is divided between the two Governments. The given power will not lie unless, as in the case of direct taxes, the power is specifically given ; and even then the State has a con
The question for every honest man to ask himself is, to which of these two divisions of government does the power in contest belong ? This is the problem we have to settle: Does this power of internal improvement belong to the General or to the State