Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

MAY 9, 1832.)

Case of Samuel Houston.

(H. OF R.

to him by either; and who is equally solicitous, with my-i house, deceased, late treasurer of this state, and a resoluself

, to preserve the Union of the States, and to adjust tion involving a general principle of the deepest interest the present unhappy collision of the two Governments, in to the several States composing the Union, in their local such a manner as will be equally honorable to them both. sovereign capacties, and proposing an amendment to the

Permit me to add, in addition to the act I have done constitution of the United States, to prevent, in future, a as Chief Magistrate of the State of Pennsylvania, to as- collision of power, such as has, for thirty years past, partialsure you, sir, as an individual, of my full confidence in ly disturbed the harmony which ought to subsist between the wisdom, justice, and integrity of the present adminis- the General Government and its component parts, and retration of the General Government, and my fixed deter- questing that the same may be laid before the Legislatures mination, in my public as well as my private capacity, to of the several States for their concurrence and adoption. support it in all constitutional measures it may adopt.

With the highest consideration, I am, sir, your obedient The following are the answers of several of the States servant,

to the communication of the Governor of jennsylvania. SIMON SNYDER.

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE.
Washingtox, April 15, 1809.

IN SENATE, June 28, 1809. Sir: I have received your letter of the 7th instant, ac

Whereas a resolution of the Legislature of Pennsylvacompanied by certain acts of the Legislature of Pennsyl- nia, proposing an amendment to the constitution of the vania, which will be laid before Congress, according to United States, with a view to establish a more impartial the desire expressed.

tribunal to determine disputes between the General and Considering our respective relations to the subject of State Governments, has been transmitted by his Excelthese communications, it would be unnecessary, if not lency the Governor of Pennsylvania to his Excellency the improper, to enter into any examinations of some of the Governor of this State, and by him communicated to the questions connected with it. It is sufficient, in the actual Legislature: And whereas the resolution before mentionposture of the case, to remark, that the Executive of the ed, together with the proceedings of the Legislature of United States is not only unauthorized to prevent the ex

Pennsylvania, with reference to the case of Gideon Olmecution of a decree sanctioned by the Supreme Court of stead, has been referred to a joint committee of the two the United States, but is expressly enjoined, by statute, tee has reported, in substance, that it is not expedient to

branches of the Legislature of this State, which committo carry into effect any such decree, where opposition may be made to it. It is a propitious circumstance, there concur in, or adopt, the amendment to the constitution of fore, that whilst no legal discretion lies with the Executive the United States, as proposed by the resolution aforesaid; of the United States to decline steps which might lead which report has been accepted by both branches of the to a very painful issue, a provision has been made by the Legislature: legislative act transmitted by you, adequate to a removal

Therefore, Resolved, That his Excellency the Governor of the existing difficulty. And i feel great pleasure in be, and hereby is, requested to communicate the foregoassuring myself that the authority which it gives will be ing result to his Excellency the Governor of Pennsylvania.

Sent down for concurrence. exercised in a spirit corresponding with the patriotic character of the State over which you preside.

ABIEL FORSTER, Clerk. Be pleased, sir, to accept assurances of my respectful

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, consideration.

The same day read and concurred.
JAMES MADISON.

GEO. P. UPHAM, Speaker. His Excellency Governor Snyder.

June 28, 1809.

By the Governor approved. JEREMIAH SMITH. LANCASTER, April 10, 1809. Sır: I have it in charge to transmit to you the proceed. Attest: NATHANIEL PARKER, Secretary. ings of the Legislature of this State, in a special case, and a resolution involving a general principle of the deepest STATE OF VERMONT. interest to the several States composing the Union, in

IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, Oct. 26, 1829. their local sovereign capacities, and proposing an amendment to the constitution of the United States, to prevent,

Whereas his Excellency the Governor of this State has in future, a collision of power, such as has, for thirty years communicated to this Assembly certain resolutions adoptsubsist between the General Government and its compo- partial tribunal may be established to determine disputes past, partially disturbed the harmony which ought to ed by the Legislature of Pennsylvania, proposing an amend

ment to the constitution of the United States, that an imPermit me to join the Legislature in their wish that the between the General and State Governments: And same may be laid before the Legislature of Virginia for

Whereas such disputes are not frequent, nor of suffitheir concurrence and adoption.

cient magnitude, in our opinion, to render such a tribunal I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedi- necessary; Therefore,

Resolved, That we do not concur in recommending the SIMON SNYDER.

amendment proposed by the resolutions aforesaid. His Excellency the Governor of the State of Virginia. quested to transmit copies of the foregoing resolution to

Also, Resolved, That the Governor of this State be reNote.--The foregoing letter is a copy sent to each the executive authority of each State of the United States. State composing the Union.

IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, Oct. 26, 1809.

Read and adopted:
Minutes of the proceedings of the Governor.

W. D. SMITH, Clerk.

In Council, Oct. 30, 1809. Monday, April 10, 1809.

Resolved to concur with the House in the above resoluA circular letter was this day written by the Governor tion.

R. C. MALLARY, Secretary. to the Executives of the several States in the Union, enclosing the proceedings of the General Assembly in the

Attest: THOMAS LEVERETT, Cause of Gideon Olmstead and others against Elizabeth

Secretary of State. Sergeant and Esther Waters, executrixes of David Ritten- SECRETARY's Office, Nov. 6, 1809.

A true copy.

nent parts.

ent servant,

True copy:

H. OF R.]
Case of Samuel Houston.

[Mar 9, 1832. LEGISLATURE OF NEW JERSEY.

United States, to wit, the Supreme Court, more eminentHouse of ASSEMBLY, Oct. 24, 1810. | ly qualified, from their habits and duties, from the mode Resolved, That this House do disapprove of, and dissent decide the disputes aforesaid, in an enlightened and impar

of their selection, and from the tenure of their offices, to from, the amendment to the constitution of the United tial manner, than any other tribunal which could be erect, States, proposed by the Legislature of the State of Massa- ed. The members of the Supreme Court are selected chusetts, June 19, 1809, " that no law shall be enacted from those in the United States who are most celebrated for laying an embargo, or for prohibiting commerce for a for virtue and legal learning--not at the will of a single inlonger period than until the expiration of thirty days from dividual, but by the concurrent wishes of the President and the commencement of the session of Congress next suc. Senate of the United States: they will therefore have no ceeding that session in which such law shall have been

local prejudices and partialities. enacted.” Resolved, That this House do disapprove of, and dissent to the most enlarged and accurate acquaintance with the

The duties they have to perform lead them necessarily from, the amendment to the constitution of the United States, proposed by the Legislature of the State of Vir- jurisdiction of the federal and several state courts together,

and with the admirable symmetry of our Government. ginia on the 13th day of January, 1808, that the Senators in the Congress of the United States may be removed the sound and correct opinions they may have formed,

The tenure of their offices enables them to pronounce from office by the vote of a majority of the

whole number without fear, favor, or partiality: of the members of the respective State Legislatures by

The amendment to the constitution proposed by Pennwhich the said Senators have been or may be appointed.. sylvania seems to be founded upon the idea that the fede

Resolved, That this House do disapprove of, and dissent ral judiciary will, from a lust of power, enlarge their from, the amendment of the constitution of the United jurisdiction to the total annihilation of the jurisdiction of States, proposed by the Legislature of the State of Penn. the State courts; that they will exercise their will instead sylvania, April 3, 1809, “ that an impartial tribunal may of the law and the constitution. be established to determine disputes between the General and State Governments.”

This argument, if it proves any thing, would operate Resolved, That his Excellency the Governor be request.

more strongly against the tribunal proposed to be created, ed to forward copies of the foregoing resolutions to the which promises so little, than against the Supreme Court, Executives of the several States; and also to each of our nected with their appointment calculated to ensure confi.

which, for the reasons given before, had every thing conSenators and Representatives in Congress.

dence. What security have we, were the proposed By order of the House: WILLIAM KENNEDY, Speaker.

amendments adopted, that this tribunal would not substi

tute their will and their pleasure in the place of the law? Council CHAMBER, Nov. 3, 1810. The judiciary are the weakest of the three departments Resolved, unanimously, that the council concur there. of Government, and least dangerous to the political rights with.

of the constitution; they hold neither the purse nor the By order:

sword; and even to enforce their own judgments and deCHARLES CLARK, Vice President. crees, must ultimately depend upon the Executive arm. SECRETARY'S OFFICE, Nov. 5, 1810.

Should the federal judiciary, however, unmindful of their

weakness, unmindful of the duty which they owe to themA true copy from the original.

selves and their country, become corrupt, and transcend Attest: JAMES LINN, Secretary of State. the limits of their jurisdiction, would the proposed amend

ment oppose even a probable barrier in such an improMARYLAND.

bable state of things? BY THE HOUSE OF DBLEGATES, Dec. 22, 1810.

The creation of a tribunal, such as is proposed by Penn

sylvania, so far as we are enabled to form an idea of it Resolved, That the Governor of this State be, and he is from a description given in the resolutions of the Legislahereby, requested to communicate to the Executives of the ture of that State, would, in the opinion of your commitseveral States composing the Union, that the General As-tee, tend rather to invite than prevent a collision between

a sembly of the State of Maryland have taken into consider the federal and State courts. It might also become, in ation the amendment proposed by the State of Pennsyl- process of time, a serious and dangerous embarrassment to vania to the constitution of the United States, contemplat. the operations of the General Government. ing the establishment of an impartial tribunal to determine Resolved, therefore, That the Legislature of this State do disputes between the General Government and the State disapprove of the amendment to the constitution of the Governments, and that they deem the proposed alteration United States, proposed by the Legislature of Pennsylinexpedient and unnecessary.

vania.
By order:
JOHN BREWER, Clerk.

Resolved, also, That his Excellency the Governor be, True copy from the original, passed by both branches and he is hereby, requested to transmit

, forth with, a copy of the Legislature of Maryland.

of the foregoing preamble and resolutions to each of the Test: JOHN BREWER,

Senators and Representatives of this State in Congress, Clerk of the House of Delegates, Maryland. and to the Executives of the several states in the Union,

with a request that the same may be laid before the LegisBY THE LEGISLATURE OF VIRGINIA.

latures thereof.

Agreed to unanimously by the House of Delegates, JanPreamble and resolutions on the proposition of Pennsylvania uary 23, 1810. to amend the Constitution of the United States.

ROBERT TAYLOR, The committee to whom was referred the communica

Speaker of the Senate. tion of the Governor of Pennsylvania, covering certain re

Agreed to by Senate unanimously, January 26, 1810. solutions of the Legislature of that State, proposing an

JAMES BARBOUR, amendment to the constitution of the United States, by

Speaker of the House of Delegates. the appointment of an impartial tribunal to decide disputes between the State and federal judiciary, have had the A copy from the original. same under their consideration, and are of opinion that a

Test:

J. PLEASANTS, Jun. tribunal is already provided by the constitution of the

Clerk of the House of Delegales.

a

Mar 9, 1832.)

Case of Samuel Houston.

[H. OF R.

KESTUCKY.

United States, proposed by the Legislature of the State of IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, Jan, 16, 1810. Massachusetts, June 9, 1809, that no law shall be enacted Resolved, That the Executive of this commonwealth be, for laying an embargo, or prohibiting commerce for a longer and he is hereby, requested to communicate to the Execu- period than until the expiration of thirty days from the tives of the States of the Union, that the General Assem

commencement of the session of Congress next succeedbly of the State of Kentucky have taken into consideration ing that session in which such law shall have been enacted. the amendment proposed by the State of Pennsylvania and dissent from, the amendment to the constitution of

Resolved, That this General Assembly do disapprove of, to the constitution of the United States, contemplating the United States, proposed by the Legislature of the the establishment of an impartial tribunal to determine State of Virginia on the 13th day of January, 1808, that disputes between the General Government and State Go- the Senators in the Congress of the United States may be vernments, and that they deem the proposed alteration removed from office by the vote of a majority of the whole inexpedient.

number of members of the respective State Legislatures North CAROLINA.

by which the said Senators have been or may be elected.

Resolved, That this General Assembly do disapprove of, The committee to whom was referred the message of and dissent from, the amendment to the constitution of his Excellency the Governor, having deliberated, with se- the United States as proposed by the Legislature of the riousness and attention, upon that part thereof which re- State of Pennsylvania, April 3, 1809,

s that an impartial lates to the important subject of certain alterations in the tribunal may be established to determine disputes between constitution of the United States, proposed by the States the General and the State Governments." of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, report:

Resolved, That this General Assembly do approve of, That they consider innovations in that justly celebrated and agree to, the amendment to the constitution of the and revered charter of our liberties as dangerous, in an United States, “ that, if any citizen of the United States eminent degree, and not to be encouraged without the shall accept, claim, receive, or retain, any title of nobility most evident and imperious necessity, which, not perceiv- or bonor, or shall, without the consent of Congress, acing in the present cases, they unanimously recommend it cept and retain any present, pension, office, or emolument to be

of any kind whatsoever, from any Emperor, King, or Resolved, That the General Assembly of the State of Prince, or foreign Power, such person shall cease to be a North Carolina disapprove of what is proposed by the Le-citizen of the United States, and shall be incapable of holdgislature of the State of Massachusetts as an amendment ing any office of trust or profit under them or either of to the constitution of the United States, and cannot agree them.” to the adoption of an article, that “no law shall be enact- Resolved, That the Executive of this State be requested ed laying an embargo, or prohibiting or suspending com- to forward copies of the foregoing resolutions to the Exemerce for a longer period than until the expiration of cutives of the several States, and also to each of our Senathirty days from the commencement of the session of Con-tors and Representatives in Congress. gress next succeeding that session in which such law shall

JOHN COCKE, have been enacted."

Speaker of the House of Representatives. Resołred, further, That this Legislature also disapprove

THOMAS HENDERSON, the article proposed by the General Assembly and Governor of Pennsylvania as an amendment to the constitution

Speaker of the Senate. of the United States, by providing that an impartial tri

Attest:

J. PECK, bunal may be established to determine disputes between

Clerk of the House of Representatives. the General and State Governments, and do not consent

JOHN ANDERSON, to the adoption of any such article, being satisfied that

Clerk of the Senate. such a tribunal already exists.

Resolred, lastly, That his Excellency the Governor be, and he is hereby, requested to transmit, forthwith, a copy

STATE OF GEORGIA. of the present resolutions to each of the Senators and Re

IN SENATE, Nov. 25, 1809. presentatives of this state in Congress, and to the Execu.

Resolved, that the amendment proposed to the consti-tives of the several States in the Union, with a request that tution of the United States by a resolution of the General the same be laid before the Legislatures thereof.

Assembly of Pennsylvania, and approved by the Governor All which is respectfully submitted.

of that State, the 3d day of April, 1809, in the words folBENJAMIN SMITH, Chairman.

lowing: IN SENATE, Nov. 30, 1809. Řesolved, That our Senators in Congress be instructed, Read, and resolved unanimously that the House do con

and our Representatives requested, to use their influence cur therewith.

to procure an amendment to the constitution of the United By order: JOSEPH RIDDICK,

States, that an impartial tribunal may be established to deSpeaker of the Senate. termine disputes between the General and State Govern

ments; and that they be further instructed to use their M. STOKES, Clerk.

endeavors, that, in the meanwhile, such arrangements may Is HOUSE OF COMMONS, Dec. 4, 1809. be made between the Government of the Union and of Read, and resolved unanimously that the House do con- this State, as will put an end to existing difficulties,” be, cur there with.

and the same is hereby, disapproved by the Legislature of By order; T. DAVIS,

this State, and that the Senators and Representatives in Speaker of the House of Commons. the Congress of the United States from this State be reP. HENDERSON,

quested to oppose the said alteration. Clerk of the House of Commons.

Resolved, That his Excellency the Governor be requested to transmit a copy of the foregoing resolution to each

of the Senators and Representatives in Congress from this STATE OF TENNESSEE.

State, and to the Executive of each State.
IN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, Nov. 21, 1811.

Read and passed.
Resolved, That this General Assembly do disapprove of,

HENRY MITCHELL, President. and dissent from, the amendment to the constitution of the Attest: WILLIAM ROBERTSON, Secretary.

H. OF R.]

Case of Samuel Houston.

[May 9, 1832.

51

a

cause.

Note.—Maine, and all the Governments south of the another place, malice would be implied. But in words Hudson, including those in the West and Northwest, and spoken here, malice is repudiated, and for all legal purposes Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, have been formed good motives are absolutely inferred. We are exempt since 1809, except Ohio.

from civil process. For debts, we may set the law and P. DODDRIDGE. its officers at defiance. We are beyond their reach. Our

privilege is our shield. We are free from arrest in all After a brief explanation by Mr. DRAYTON of some of cases except for crimes--"treason, felony, or breach of his remarks referred to,

the peace. Mr. BEARDSLEY, of New York, next rose. He com- These immunities, not enjoyed by others, but which are menced by saying that this trial had occupied several the indisputable rights of members of this body, should weeks of the precious time of the House at an advanced admonish us of the correspondent duty--never to abuse period of a long session. Perhaps that time had been pro- them. They were not designed as a shield for mendacity, fitably spent. Of that, said Mr. B., our constituents will fraud, or malice; and should never be used as a cover for best judge. There was very little complexity or detail in defamation, or to stir up an unfounded and false clamor. any of the testimony, which could be supposed material: It has been said that these are not strictly the privileges yet some two weeks have been required to hear and com- of members, but of their constituents; or rather that they mit to writing what is called evidence. The play, said be, were conferred for the benefit of the constituents, and not should be worth the candle. The importance of this evi- at all for that of the individual members. The discussion dence ought to be such as to reconcile us to the reflection upon this branch of the subject, I believe, has not been that it was taken at the expense of more than twenty thou- very intelligible to any one. The privileges of members sand dollars to the public. Yet, what is it? Any thing are their rights--their individual and constitutional rights: but what testimony before a judicial tribunal should be. and whether conferred with a view to their own protecConjectures, hearsay, general suspicions, and ex parte affi- tion and security in performing their public duties, or for davits.

And these, if they could prove any thing, except a higher object, the benefit of their constituents, 1 regard the incompetency or unsuitableness of the tribunal which as a matter of utter indifference. Sufficient for me that the received them, were directed, as if in mockery of justice, privilege has been conferred, that the right exists, that the at any and every object, rather than the point which constitution has spoken, and all are bound to beed and obey seemed, if any thing was, material to a decision of the its voice. We are not legislating with a view to determine

Almost every rule of evidence hitherto deemed what privileges ought to be conferred on members of this reasonable, seems to have been disregarded in this trial. House. That was decided by the people in adopting the The House has foundered through the testimony appa- constitution under which we are assembled. Our privirently without chart or compass to direct it, and in clear leges are to be found in that instrument. Legislation can. violation of the most well-settled and authoritative legal not abridge them: nor can the whim, the caprice, or the principles. The debate has been about equally discursive will of this body make them, like the privileges of the and erratic. Many topics have been introduced and gravely British Parliament, unlimited, undefined, and undefinable. argued, which have neither been denied nor doubted in any I therefore, sir, dismiss the matter of privilege. If the quarter. I hope, sir, that the judgment of the House, privilege of a member has been invaded, the existence of when it shall be rendered, will atone for the irrelevant the privilege itself is not denied. If a wrong has been mass of proof which has been given, and the aberrant cha-, done, and no one denies that there has, the law has proracter of the discussion.

vided ample means for redress. The courts are open: jusGentlemen have set themselves seriously at work to tice will be sure and speedy: the course is plain and free prove that members of this House have certain constitu- from difficulty. No one doubted the power of the courts tutional privileges. What, sir, is privilege? A right, ex- to inflict an adequate punishment, and afford to the injured emption, or immunity, possessed by one or more persons, party an adequate reparation. But here, in this House, but not common to all their fellow-citizens. Those who the disputed point-indeed, sir, in my judgment, the only are entitled to immunities of this nature, are privileged essential point in controversy, is the power of the House persons, and of this description are members of this House. to try and punish for an offence which I admit has been All privilege is said to be a nuisance, yet, for reasons deemed committed. sufficient of themselves, some of a very important charac-i The testimony has undergone a strict analysis, and been ter have been conferred upon those who represent the summed up in due form. For what purpose? To prove people here. No one has denied, no one can deny, their what the accused admitted in his plea, and what no one existence. They were, no doubt, conferred, and are tole. has questioned--that an assault has been committed on the rated on public grounds, and not as a boon or indulgence member from Ohio, (Mr. STANBERRY.) To prove further, to individuals. They should be few, limited, well defined; what I will not stop to controvert, that the assault was and they are of that character. The constitution which made for words spoken in debate. Both points, for the created and confers them, is explicit, and too plain to ad- purpose of this discussion, I will admit to be established. mit of doubt or cavil. Senators and Representatives in I will take them in this respect to be indubitable. But Congress are privileged from arrest “in all cases, except what consequence shall we draw from them? Why, certreason, felony, or breach of the peace;” “and for any tainly, argues the gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. Dodspeech or debate in either House they shall not be ques. DRIDGE,] if the member was assaulted for that

it was tioned in any other place.” All this, sir, is plain and ex. a breach of the privileges, and a high contempt of the plicit. Here is no room to raise a question. These are authority of this House. And as “a privilege without the the undoubted rights or privileges of members of Congress. means of enforcing it, and of securing its enjoyment, is no Whoever violates them, does a wrong to the individual privilege,” this House has therefore an unquestionable and the country, sets the constitution at defiance, and right to try and punish the accused for that assault! justly exposes himself to that measure of punishment which This is the species of argument which we have heard; the laws have provided for such cases.

and in this manner the honorable gentleman comes to the These privileges are founded on good reasons. Repre. 'conclusion that this House is fully authorized to do what sentatives of the people ought to speak freely, and witho' it is assuming to do. I differ with the honorable gentle. out the fear of personal injury, or the vexation and hazard, man totally in both these positions. The assault on the of responsibility elsewhere. If words, slanderous in their person I admit; but I deny that there was any assault upon terms, are uttered here, the constitution declares they are the privilege of the member, or any contempt of this not slanderous. If spoken on another occasion, and in House. Privilege is a peculiar right or immunity, pos

1

cause,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

MAY 9, 1832.)

Case of Samuel Houston.

(H. of R.

sessed by the few, to the exclusion of the many. A breach assailed, and inflict summary punishment upon the violaof privilege is but a violation of that peculiar right. But tor? I need not answer this question. We all know that this assault would have been equally an outrage, and they have no power of that description, and that their only equally unjustifiable, had it been committed on any other relief is in the courts. They may punish. Such is the nacitizen. It was a violation of rights equally possessed by ture and the province of judicial power; but I take leave all, and not of any special right, which adheres to an indi- to deny that any such power is necessarily conveyed by vidual as a member of this House. It was a breach of the conferring privileges upon an individual or a public body. general law of society, and not of the peculiar immunities The English Convocation, or Ecclesiastical Synod, furof this House. I maintain then, sir, that the rights of the nishes an apposite illustration of the question now under member, as such, have not been wounded, nor has the discussion. A public statute of the realm gives to memdignity of the House been insulted, or its authority con-bers of that body the same rights and privileges as were temned. The general law of the land is ample for this or should be enjoyed by the nobles and commonalty callcase, without relying upon any peculiar provision for the ed to Parliament. Yet, sir, was it ever heard that that security of members of this body.

assembly, the miniature of a Parliament, with all its gorBut if I am mistaken in this; if, indeed, this may with geous display and expanded powers--with all the immupropriety be treated as a breach of privilege and contempt nities of the body to which it is assimilated--was it ever of this House, what then? Does it follow that this House pretended that it could deal out retributive justice for a is authorized to punish? That is averred by the gentle-violation of its privileges? Certainly, sir, nothing of this man from Virginia. His position is, that the body pos- nature was ever suggested there. It remained for the hosessing the privilege must have the means of securing its norable gentleman from Virginia to discover and present enjoyment, and of punishing for its violation, or it is no as an axiom i.. legislative jurisprudence, that the power to privilege. This is bold ground. If the honorable gen. punish is inseparably connected with the possession of tleman has sustained it, or if it can be sustained in any privilege! manner, I will admit the question to be settled. But As this power of the House is the true subject of debate, although the position has been advanced as authoritative, the only real point deserving discussion, I hope to be yet I submit to the House that it was accompanied with excused for dwelling upon it somewhat more at large. I very little argument to illustrate or establish its accuracy. deny that the House possesses any such power; and I ask I confess, sir, that I cannot accede to this opinion of the gentlemen who entertain an opposite opinion, to reflect honorable gentleman, able and accurate as I know him in upon the nature of the power, and explain the manner in most things to be. Is it true that an individual or a pub- which it has been transmitted to this House. That this lic body, whose privileges have been assailed and tram- House, in common with all public bodies, whether exerpled under foot, has a right, not only to repel the assailant, cising legislative, judicial, or executive functions, may but to inflict upon him retributive justice? I should say lawfully preserve order, suppress disturbances in its prenot, sir. I should turn to the courts for justice. I should sence, or so near as to interrupt the course of public busiinvoke their powers, where the individual wrong or the ness, and defend and protect its members agaiiist violence public offence called for reparation or punishment. But and outrage, is abundantly clear. So far, all agree that the honorable gentleman, like the accused now on trial, the power of the House is ample. It is the right of selfwould take the law into his own hands. A wrong having defence, and the power of self-protection--incident to the been done, by violating a privilege, he would himself creation and the existence of the House as a lawful public right it: the aggrieved and injured party he would make body. judge. Upon this argument, the right and the authority This is the Hall of the representatives of the people. to punish are called into existence by the attack upon pri- They are entitled to its exclusive possession and control. vilege. This is new doctrine, and an unusual mode of They may exercise that right as they judge most wise and transmitting and acquiring judicial power. A blow has prudent.' The House may also, as I apprehend, lawfully made many a worthy man å knight, but upon this princi-lexert its power to protect the whole collected body here, ple the beating of one member transfers judicial power not and its members, wherever they may go, unless, by their only to himself, but to all other members of the same body. own misconduct, they themselves become aggressors; and

I would not,'sir, treat this subject lightly or irreverently. thus, while they invite and justify violence, forfeit all claim We are inquiring into the constitutional powers of this to the protection of this House. In my judgment, sir, we House, the source of its authority, and the manner in may not only resist and repel violence, and suppress and which it is acquired. If, indeed, our powers as a judicial quell disturbances here, but we may exert a similar power, body arise upon the perpetration of an outrage on a mem- and for the like purpose, in a more enlarged sense, and ber, it cannot be improper to explore this theory of the upon a broader scale. Whenever there is just ground to constitution, and present it to the public gaze. Will it apprehend violence upon the House, or upon any of its stand examination? Can the judgment of any gentleman members, here or elsewhere, we may, with a view to avert the approve it. The mass of our powers are legislative, not impending danger, arrest and detain every person medijudicial. Ordinarily we have not the powers of a court; tating such violence. I grant, sir, we should not act, with nor have we at any time, unless they are brought into ex. a view to that result, lightly, or upon trivial ground. Inistence, as is urged by the gentleman from Virginia, by a deed, an extreme case only would render it expedient to breach of privilege. His theory regards the power to act at all. But in such cases the House would act, not to punish as incident to the possession of the privilege. But punish, but to protect--not in retribution for a past of how does the gentleman prove the accuracy of this posi- fence, but to guard against one in future. tion? Does he find it in any judicial system whatever? This is but the conservative right of self-defence--a Is such the opinion of any jurist or statesman, except the right possessed by individuals, independent of all consti. gentleman himself, whose opinion is worthy of respect? tutions, and in defiance of all human laws. Self-defence is Where does the gentleman find authority for the position " the first law of nature, and of nature's God;” and I hold, he has advanced with such confidence?

sir, that it is not less the right and the duty of individuals, We have no privileged orders here, yet there are many assembled for lawful public objects, and for the performindividuals, aside from members of Congress, who are tem- ance of public duties, than of every private citizen, to efporarily clothed with privileges. Attorneys at law, jurors, fectuate those objects, and to defend themselves against witnesses, parties to suits, are familiar instances. All these every aggressor. So far, sir, 1 assert, and I am ready to are privileged--have rights peculiar to themselves. But, maintain, the power of this House. Beyond it I cannot go. sir, do they personally vindicate these privileges when I find no warrant in the constitution for the power now

« AnteriorContinuar »