« AnteriorContinuar »
ments under it, with the disbursement of the public money, and is responsible for the faithful application of it to the purposes for which it is raised. The legislature is the watchful guard over the public purse. It is its duty to see that the disbursement has been honestly made.
To meet the requisite responsibility, every facility should be afforded to the executive to enable it to bring the public agents, intrusted with the public money, strictly and promptly to account. Nothing should be presumed against them; but if, with the requisite faculties, the public money is suffered to lie, long and uselessly, in their hands, they will not be the only defaulters, nor will the demoralizing effect be confined to them. It will evince a relaxation, and want of tone in the administration, which will be felt by the whole community. I shall do all that I can, to secure economy and fidelity in this important branch of the administration, and I doubt not, that the legislature will perform its duty with equal zeal. A thorough examination should be regularly made, and I will promote it.
It is particularly gratifying to me, to enter on the discharge of these duties, at a time when the United States are blessed with peace. It is a state most consistent with their prosperity and happiness. It will be my sincere desire to preserve it, so far as depends on the executive, on just principles, with all nations, claiming nothing unreasonable, of any, and rendering to each what is its due.
Equally gratifying is it, to witness the increased harmony of opinion, which pervades our union. Discord does not belong to our system. Union is recommended, as well by the free and benign principles of our government, extending its blessings to every individual, as by the other eminent advantages attending it. The American people have encountered together great dangers, and sustained severe trials with success. They constitute one great family with a common interest. Experience has enlightened us on
some questions of essential importance to the country. The progress has been slow, dictated by a just reflection, and faithful regard to every interest connected with it. To promote this harmony, in accord with the principles of our republican government, and in a manner to give them the most complete effect, and to advance in all other respects the best interests of our union, will be the object of my constant and zealous exertions.
Never did a government commence under auspices so favorable, nor ever was success so complete. If we look to the history of other nations, ancient and modern, we find no example of a growth so rapid, so gigantic; of a people so prosperous and happy. In contemplating what we have still to perform, the heart of every citizen must expand with joy when he reflects how near our government has approached to perfection; that in respect to it, we have no essential improvement to make; that the great object is to preserve it in the essential principles and features which characterize it, and, that is to be done, by preserving the virtue and enlightening the minds of the people; and as a security against foreign dangers, to adopt such arrangements as are indispensable to the support of our independence, our rights, and liberties. If we persevere in the career in which we have advanced so far, and in the path already traced, we cannot fail, by the favor of a gracious Providence, to attain the high destiny which seems to await us.
In the administration of the illustrious men who have preceded me in this high station, with some of whom I have been connected by the closest ties from early life, examples are presented, which will always be found highly instructive, and useful to their successors. From these I shall endeavor to derive all the advantages which they may afford. Of my immediate predecessor, under whom so important a portion of this great and successful experiment has been made. I shall be
pardoned for expressing my earnest wishes that he may long enjoy, in his retirement, the affections of a grateful country, the best reward of exalted talents, and the most faithful and meritorious services. Relying on the aid to be derived from the other departments of the government, I enter on the trust to which I have been called by the suffrages of my fellow-citizens, with my fervent prayers to the Almighty, that He will be graciously pleased to continue to us that protection, which He has already so conspicuously displayed in our favor.
SPEECH OF LOUIS M'LANE,
A BILL TO ENABLE THE PEOPLE OF THE MISSOURI TER
RITORY TO FORM A CONSTITUTION AND STATE GOVERNMENT, AND FOR THE ADMISSION OF SUCH STATE INTO THE UNION;
DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED
STATES, FEBRUARY 7, 1820.
The question before the committee was on agreeing to the following
amendment :* And shall ordain and establish that there shall be neither slavery
nor involuntary servitude in the said state, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. Provided always, that any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any other state, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid. And provided also, that the said provision shall not be construed to alter the condition or civil rights of any person now held to service or labor in the said territory.”
MR. CHAIRMAN, If it were not for the peculiar situation in which I shall be placed, in regard to some respectable opinions prevailing in the state from which I have the honor to come, by the vote I shall feel it my duty to give upon the present occasion, I should not trespass upon the time of the committee. If the eloquence and ability, which have been already employed in this debate, have not produced any change of opinion, I have not the presumption to suppose that it will be in my power to vary the result; but, if it is not for me to disturb the opinions of others, I may afford a justification of my own, and furnish to those, who may hereafter feel any interest in the course I deem it my duty to pursue, an exposition of the motives by which I am governed.
I concur with the honorable mover of the amendment, that it presents an act of no ordinary legislation; and I am very sure he cannot easily overrate its importance-an importance derived, not more from the intrinsic magnitude of the question, in all its relations, than the excitement and tumult to which it has given rise in every part of the republic. I do not believe that any subject has ever arisen in this country, since the formation of the government, which has produced a more general agitation, or in regard to which greater pains have been taken to inflame the public mind, and control the deliberations of the national councils. The dazzling reward of popular favor, invested with all its fascinations, has been held up on the one hand, and the appalling spectre of public denunciation, with all its frightfulness, on the other. The sincere and humane, actuated, I am sure, by the best and purest motives; the aspiring demagogue and ambitious politician ; those who wish well to their country, and those who seek power on the troubled sea of popular commotion; have promiscuously united in these public agitations, until the press has teemed, and our tables groaned, with a mass of pamphlets and memorials beyond example.
The state which I have the honor, in part, to represent, has been the theatre of a full share of this agitation; and the honorable legislature of that respectable state has been pleased, recently, to take up the subject, and have unanimously resolved, that, in their opinion, Congress have the constitutional power, and ought to impose this restriction upon the new states.
Entertaining the respect I do for the intelligence of the people of my own state, and the character of their legislature, I cannot find my opinion in opposition to theirs without the most unfeigned regret. For, although I do not concede to the legislature of a state the right of instructing the representatives of the people in Congress, or of employing its official character to influence their conduct, or to affect their responsibility, yet, viewing their acts, in this respect, as the