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Mancu 28, 1836.]
to show that, on the last day of January, they had passed made upon it, trusting to the indulgence of the Senate, only sixteen bills; and although it was the short session, in a future stage of the discussion, to be permitted to they passed one hundred and forty bills before the ad- present my views of the other highly important quesjournment. Their whole experience showed that busi- tions involved in the general subject. I propose tbus ness could be done in less time than it usually was done. to limit my remarks for the present, because the con
Mr. CLAYTON then renewed his motion; and the stitutional question is naturally and properly preliminary question was taken, and decided as follows:
to all the rest, standing first in the order of discussion, Yeas-Messrs. Benton, Calhoun, Clayton, Grundy, as well as first in importance; for, however justly obKent, Morris, Rives, Robbins, Ruggles, Southard, Tall. noxious I deem the resolution of March, 1834, to the madge-11.
various exceptions which have been taken to it, it cerNars- Messrs. Black, Buchanan, Clay, Crittenden, tainly ought not to be expunged, unless, under the Cuthbert, Davis, Ewing of Ohio, Ewing of Illinois, Hen- constitution, we have the rightful authority to do so. dricks, Hill, Hubbard, King of Alabama, King of Geor. It seems proper to confine my remarks, for the present, gia, Knight, McKean, Mangum, Moore, Nicholas, Niles, to this single view of the subject, for the further reason Porter, Prentiss, Preston, Robinson, Shepley, Swift, that, as yet, the able and lucid arguments of the Senator Tomlinson, Walker, Wall, White, Wright--30.
from Missouri on the other branches of the discussion The question was then taken on Mr. CrittendEx's have remained without any answer, or even an attempt motion, and decided in the negative: Yeas 21, nays 21; to answer them. the Chair voting in the negative:
A free people, Mr. President, and especially the YEA8--Messrs. Black, Calhoun, Clay, Crittenden, enlightened people of this country, are naturally and Ewing of Illinois, Hill, Hubbard, King of Georgia, Knight, wisely jealous of the observance of their fundamental Leigh, McKean, Mangum, Moore, Morris, Nicholas, law, and acutely sensible to any violation, actual or Porter, Prentiss, Preston, Rives, Robinson, South- meditated, of its provisions. Hence it is that, in the ard--21.
warfare of parties, appeals are so frequently made to Nays--Messrs. Benton, Buchanan, Clayton, Cuthbert, this patriotic instinct in the public mind, and alarms, Davis, Ewing of Ohio, Grundy, Hendricks, Kent, King often groundless and artificial, attempted to be raised of Alabama, Niles, Robbins, Ruggles, Shepley, Swift, in regard to the security of the constitution. Hence it Tallmadge, Tomlinson, Walker, Wall, White, Wright was, i presume, that in the memorable contest of which --21.
this chamber was the theatre two years ago, the PresiMr. CLAY then moved to amend the resolution by dent was denounced as a usurper of ungranted power, making the 23d of May the day of adjournment, which as a violator of the constitution and the laws of his counmotion prevailed: Yeas 28, nays 14, as follows:
try; when, if all that was alleged by his adversaries could Yeas-Messrs. Black, Calhoun, Clay, Clayton, Crit. be sustained, it would have made but a case of the tenden, Davis, Ewing of Ohio, Ewing of linois, Hill, misapplication or abuse of power granted both by the Hubbard, King of Georgia, Knight, Leigh, McKean, constitution and she laws. Hence it is, too, I suppose, Mangum, Moore, Morris, Nicholas, Porter, Prentiss, that, on the present occasion, a new panic is attempted Preston, Rives, Robinson, Southard, Swift, Tomlinson, to be raised, by holding up the image of mutilated recWalker, Wall-28.
ords and a violated constitution, and that the exercise Nars—Vessrs. Benton, Buchanan, Cuthbert, Grundy, of a lawful discretionary power over their own journals Hendricks, Kent, King of Alabama, Niles, Robbins, and proceedings, which has been known and admitted Ruggles, Shepley, Tallmadge, White, Wright--14. since the origin of legislative bodies, and is familiar n
The resolution, as amended, was then adopted: Yeas parliamentary practice wherever such bodies exist, is 34, nays 8, as follows:
represented as something monstrous, iniquitous, and YEAs--Messrs. Black, Buchanan, Calhoun, Clay, Crit even felonious. If gentlemen expect thus, by the use tenden, Cuthbert, Davis, Ewing of Ohio, Ewing of of strong language, bold assertion, and vehement denun. Illinois, Hill, Hubbard, King of Alabama, King of ciation, to carry the public judgment by storm, they Georgia, Knight Linn, Leigh, McKean, Mangum, Moore, will, in my humble opinion, find themselves wofully deMorris, Nicholas, Niles, Porter, Prentiss, Preston, ceived. The public mind is, at this moment, calm, Rives, Robinson, Shepley, Southard, Swift, Tomlinson, / self-balanced, scrutinizing, inquisitive; and, instead of Walker, Wall, Wright-34.
mere assertion and vague denunciation, it will require Nays— Messrs. Benton, Clayton, Grundy, Hendricks, reason, argument, proof. Robbins, Ruggles, Tallmadge, White-8.
It is in this spirit, Mr. President, that I shall proceed
to the examination of the objection which has been made EXPUNGING RESOLUTION.
to the proposition under consideration, on the ground Mr. CLAYTON stated that as the expunging resolu. that it demands an act to be done which is forbidden by tion had been laid on the table at his suggestion, he | the constitution. What, sir, is the argument of gentlewould now move to take it up for consideration, as the men on this subject, so far as argument has been at. Senator from Virginia (Mr. LEIGH) was then in his seat. templed? It is, that as the constitution requires that
The motion was agreed to, and the resolution being "each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings,” under consideration,
an entry once made upon that journal can never there. Mr. RIVES rose and addressed the Senate, in sub-after be, in any manner, touched, altered, or removed; stance, as follows:
that, if we do so, we fail, from that moment, in the If no other gentleman, Mr. President, be disposed to language of the constitution, to " keep a journal of our do so, I will avail myself of the opportunity afforded by proceedings.” The connexion between the premises the motion of the Senator from Delaware, to trouble and the conclusion in this reasoning is, I must confess, the Senate with some remarks on the subject now under Mr. President, to my mind incomprehensible. If this consideration. In doing so, I do not propose, at this body shall, by a formal resolution, entered on its jour. time, to go into the wide field of diversified and interest. nal, direct a previous entry, improvidently, wrongfully, ing matter opened for discussion by the resolutions of or erroneously made, to be corrected or removed, does the Senator from Missouri. My purpose will be to con. it follow from thence that we do not still keep a jourfine myself, at present, strictly to the constitutional nal? On the contrary, this very proceeding, in being question which has been raised as to the power of this entered on the journal, and imbodying the whole history body to expunge from its journal an entry heretofore I of the transaction, is itself a fulfilment of the constitue,
[March 28, 1836.
tional injunction in its true and well-understood sense been deemed necessary and proper, for the public good, that of writing down, from day to day, our daily trans. to vest any particular power in the Government, or a actions as they transpire.
department of it, the constitution grants the power, and But it is not my intention, Mr. President, to discuss provides securities against its abuse in the structure and this question on the niceties of verbal criticism. organization of the Government itself. The periodical choose rather to take it up on broad views of the common election of the public functionaries by the people, and sense and practical meaning and operation of the con. for the most part for short terms, their responsibility to stitution. While the constitution requires that each their constituents, and the constant influence and control House shall keep a journal of its proceedings, it does not of public opinion, are relied upon in our system as condirect how that journal is to be kept. The manner of ferring every reasonable security against the gross abuse keeping it, what is to be put upon it, what not; the of necessary powers. nature, the form, the fulness of the entries, are all The large discretionary power which the constitution matters left for the regulation and control of the body has left to either House of Congress over its journals is whose duty it is to keep the journal. In these respects strikingly exemplified in the provision respecting their there is great diversity of usage among legislative bodies, publication. Each House is required by the constitution By some, the entire bill presented for its action is spread to publish its journal from time to time, excepting such on the journal, as was done during the first two con parts as may, in their judgment, require secrecy. Now, gresses under the present constitution by this body. By under the terms of this provision, either House of Conothers, the title of the bill only is entered on the jour. gress, if disposed to abuse the trust reposed in them, nal, as is now the practice both of this House and the might suppress and withhold from the knowledge of the other branch of Congress. By some, the reports of people the most important part, if not the whole, of their committees are entered in full on the journal, as was proceedings, under the plea that they were such as, in done by the old Congress under the articles of confeder- | their judgment, required secrecy. ation, and is still practised, I believe, by the Legislature In ibe jealous apprehensions which were entertained of Virginia. By others, the resolutions only, reported at the time of the adoption of the constitution, of the enby committees, are admitted to a place on the journal.croachments and abuses of the new Government, this According to the rules and practice of some legislative ohjection was strongly urged against the clause in quesbodies, as, for example, of this, proceedings in Commit- tion; but it was replied, and with success, that every tee of the Whole are entered on the journal; while in legislative body must have the power of concealing, im. others, as in the House of Representatives, no notice portant transactions, the publication of which might whatever appears on the journal of what has been done compromise the public interests; and, as it was imposin Committee of the Whole. I might mention, also, as sible to foresee and enumerate all the cases in which illustrating the discretionary power which every legisla- such concealment might be necessary, they should be tive body possesses over its journal, the apparently left to the sound discretion of the body itself, subject anomalous practice, founded, however, on long usage, to the constitutional responsibility of members, and the of both this House and the other, to enter on their re. other securities provided by the constitution against the spective journals the messages of the President, though abuse of power. These securities have hitherto been not forming a part of their own “proceedings," of found sufficient, and, in point of fact, the journals of which only they are required to keep a journal.
both Houses have been published from day to day, with It results from these considerations, that although each such special and limited exceptions as bave been univerHouse of Congress is bound to keep a journal of its pro- sally approved by the public judgment. ceedings, yet that journal, as to the manner of keeping This publication, when made, is the practical fulfilit, the nature and character of its contents, what is to be ment and consummation of the design of the constituupon it, what not, is necessarily subjected to the control tion in requiring a journal to be kept, by either House, of the body whose duty it is to keep it. This control is of its proceedings. It is agreed, on all hands, that the an inseparable part of that self-governing power, in all great object for which a journal is required to be kept matters of interior economy and parliamentary regime, is, to give authentic information to our constituents of which the constitution expressly delegates to either our proceedings; and that information is to be given, as branch of the legislative department. Each House, by the constitution provides, by means of a publication, the constitution, is “to choose it own Speaker or Presi. from time to time, of the journal itself. The requisident, and other officers.” “Each House, also, shall tion to keep a journal, on which gentlemen have laid so be the judge of the elections, returns, and qualifications much stress, is therefore merely introductory, or what of its own members." “Each House may determine the lawyers call matter of inducement only, to that which the rules of its proceedings, punish its members for dis- forms the life and substance of the provision, to wit, orderly behaviour, and, with the concurrence of two the publication, from time to time, of ihe journal. The thirds, expel a member." " Each House shall keep a whole structure and sequence of the sentence sustains journal of its proceedings, and, from time to time, pub. this interpretation. “Each House shall keep a journal lish the same, excepting such parts as may, in their of its proceedings, and, from time to time, publish the judgment, require secrecy.". In regard to all these same. It is evident that the whole practical vir!ue powers and functions, a very large discretion is neces and effect of the provision is in the latter member of sarily left to either House, in the exercise of which the sentence, and that the former would have been imabuses doubtless may be committed. But the possibility plied and comprehended in it, though not expressed. of abuse is no argument against the existence of a power. it will be seen that the corresponding provision in the Congress has, by express and unequivocal grants in the articles of confederation was founded explicitly on this constitution, power" to lay and collect taxes,” &c., and idea; for, presupposing the keeping of a journal as a " to raise and support armies.” In the exercise of these matter of course, it proceeded at once to require that powers, Congress might raise, even in time of profound “Congress shall publish the journal of their proceedpeace, an army of half a million of men, and levy upon ings monthly, excepting such parts thereof, relating to the people annually two or three hundred millions of treaties, alliances, or military operations, as, in their dollars for their support, converting one half of the judgment, require secrecy.' nation into soldiers, and the other half into paupers. There could be no grosser abuse; and yet the constitu. supposed, and necessarily implied; but can any one
Nothing was said of keeping a journal, that being pretional power would still be indisputable. Where it has doubt, though the articles of confederation were silent
as to keeping a journal, that Congress was as much view of the matter, it is altogether a mistake to say tha: bound to keep a journal of their proceedings under there is no positive requisition that either House of Parthat instrument, as each House is now bound to do liament in England shall keep a journal of their prounder the existing constitution? How could they make ceedings. I find the classic historian of that counthe required monthly publication of their journal, unless try stating that, in 1607, when the nascent pretensions a journal were kept by them? The requisition, there of the Stuarts, and the spirit of the age, first made the fore, in the present constitution, to keep a journal, is House of Commons sensible both of its importance and but an expression, for the sake of greater fulness, of responsibility as a guardian of the public liberty, that what would otherwise have been implied, and serves body entered a formal order for “the regular keeping only as a more formal introduction to the practical end of their journals.". Subsequently, in 1621, as I learn and substance of the constitutional provision on the sub from another authority not less authentic, (Hatsell,) an ject, and that with which it emphatically concludes, to entry was made in the journal of the House of Commons, wit, the publication, from time to time, of the journal. on the motion of Sir Edward Sackville, in these words: That publication once made, and the people put in pos “That all our proceedings may be entered here, and session of the authentic evidence of the proceedings of kept as records.” Now, sir, it is very remarkable that their agents, the purposes of the constitution are ful. these two orders of the House of Commons contain the filled, and the preservation of the original manuscript identical language of the constitution of the United States, journal becomes thenceforward an official formality: to wit, that a journal shall be kept of their proceedings.
Even if the true and only meaning of the requisition in each of them, the magic word to keep, which seems to keep a journal were that which has been so much in. to have exerted so potent a spell on the imaginations of sisted on, that is, to preserve, do not gentlemen perceive gentlemen, is found; and yet we know it has never been that the preservation of the journal is fully and most held to be a violation of, or inconsistent with, this order surely accomplished in its publication? The thousand to keep a journal of their proceedings, for the House of and ten copies which the Secretary has told us are reg. Commons, in certain cases, to apply an effectual correcularly printed and distributed by order of the Senate to the tive to wrongful or improvident entries previously made members of Congress, to the various public functionaries,
It may be said, however, that this order, being to the State Governments, to public institutions and socie- made by the body itself, is not obligatory on its own ties throughout the Union, furnish a far better security for action. To this I reply, that the rules prescribed by parliathe preservation of the journal than the most scrupulous mentary bodies for their government are always binding care and vestal guardianship of the original manuscript; upon them, till rescinded or repealed; and while a rule which, in spite of every precaution, might yet be lost or order is retained, nothing inconsistent with it can be or destroyed by inevitable accident. These multiplied done, unless the rule be first suspended by a vote of the printed copies, while placing the preservation of the body. Such is the invariable practice, both of this and journal beyond the reach of contingency, are, at the the other House of Congress, as of legislative bodies same time, for every practical public use, whether of elsewhere. legal evidence or political accountability, on a footing But this matter stands on still higher ground. An act of equal validity with the manuscript original.
of Parliament, which all will admit is binding on the The numerous parliamentary precedents in England, respective Houses, and which neither House can repeal as to the power of legislative bodies over their journals, or control by its separate action, virtually requires a are not denied; but it is contended that those precedents journal to be kept by the House of Commons, in requishould have no weight here, because the constitution of ring certain entries to be made in it. I refer to the the United States expressly requires that each House of statute of 6 Henry VIII, which provides that the license Congress shall keep a journal; while, in England, it is for members departing from their service shall be entersaid no such requisition exists in regard to either House ed of record in the book of the Clerk of the Parliament, of Parliament. The requisition in the constitution of appointed, or to be appointed, for the Commouis House." the United States, I have already shown, is but declara- The book of the Clerk for the Commons House, here tory of the natural and pre-existing law of all legislative referred to, and in which certain things are requibodies, of whose organization and functions it is a neces red to be entered of record, is of course ihe journal of sary and invariable incident to keep a journal of their the House. But how can these entries, be made in the proceedings; and in this view I am borne out, not only journal unless a journal be kept? This act of Parliament, by the example of the articles of confederation, but therefore, requires, and virtually commands, the keepby that of several of the State constitutions, which, ing of a journal by the House of Commons; just as the presupposing the keeping of a journal as a matter of articles of confederation, already referred to, in provicourse, provide only, after the manner of the articles of ding ibat Congress "shall publish the journal of its proconfederation, for the periodical publication of it from ceedings monthly," virtually requires Congress to keep time to time. But, without dwelling farther on this a journal; for, otherwise, the required publication could
not take place. . It is a remarkable fact, that there is no original man. The distinction, therefore, which has been relied upon uscript journal of the House of Representatives in exist to justify the rejection of the British precedents on this ence from the date of the adoption of the constitution subject, is not founded in a just view of the constitution. to the 1st session of the 18th Congress, 1823-'24. As al or parliamentary history of that country. The two soon as the journal was printed and published, it was Houses of Parliament are, in fact, bound and required supposed there was no longer any practical motive for to keep a journal of their proceedings, as well as the retaining the original manuscript journal, which was, iwo Houses of Congress. They are bound to do so by therefore, never taken care of or preserved. Such was the very nature of their institution, by their own rules the practice during the whole period of the clerkship of and orders, and by the virtual command of act of Parliathe celebrated John Beckley, than whom there never ment. If, therefore, a similarity or community of prin. was a more accomplished clerk, and but few abler men; ciple could, in any case, justify arguing from the instituand if there be propriety in the maxim, cuilibet in sua arte tions and usages of the one country to those of the other, credendum est, such a practical construction of the con it is certainly upon a question like the present. I find stitution, in this regard, by a man so conversant with his that much use was made, on another and recent occasion business, must be admitted to be entitled to no slight in this body, of British parliamentary precedents, by gen. consideration.--Note by Mr. R.
slemen who scem now inclined to disavow and reject
(Manch 28, 1836.
them altogether. If I am not mistaken, the Senator finally abandoned, by the act of expunging the judgment from South Carolina, (Mr. Calhoun,) on the question which was its fruit. which was so earnestly and ably debated here recently The other case to which I have alluded occurred in as to the right of either House io refuse to receive a pe. the proceedings on the recognition bill in 1690. tition, introduced Hatsell's work, the great repository of clause was introduced into that bill on the motion of the British parliamentary proceedings, and drew largely from whig party of that day, and the friends of the revoluit in support of the position be maintained, that it would tion, declaring that the acts of the convention parliament, be no violation of the right of petitioning, as guarantied though assembled without the formality of a royal sumby the constitution, to refuse to receive a petition after mons, were good and valid. This was strongly objected presentation.
to by the tory lords, a number of whom, by the leave of (Mr. Calhoun here rose and explained, and was under the House, entered their protest againstit on the journal. stood to say that gentlemen on the other side of the The Senate well know that it is a distinctive and fun. question in that discussion had referred to the English damental principle in the constitution of the House of Jaws and doctrines on the subject of the right of peti- Lords, that any member or number of members, dissenttion, and that he made use of the parliamentary prece ing from a measure which has passed that body, bave dents from Hatsell to show that, in the British parlia. the right, with the leave of the House, to enter a formal mentary practice, it was held no violation of the right of protest against it on the journal. In this case, the leare petition to refuse to receive a petition.]
of the House was granted. The right of the protesting Mr. Rives said he had not the pleasure of hearing Lords became thereby vested and complete; and yet it the speech of the gentleman from South Carolina, but appearing, on a subsequent examination of the protest, he inferred from reading it that he considered the par- that the grounds of objection taken in it assailed, and liamentary practice of Great Britain as, at least, high were subversive of, the principles of the revolution and authority in reference to the question then under discussettlement of the Government just accomplished, the sion. I am not at all disposed (said Mr. R.) to question House ordered it to be expunged from their journal; the propriety of the application then made by the Sen. which order was carried into execution, and gave rise to ator from South Carolina of precedents from the Eng- another protest for expunging the former protest. Jish parliamentary practice. I mean only to say that, But the precedents of parliamentary expunging are however applicable they may have been on that occa by no means confined to the land of our ancestors, from sion, they are at least as much so on the present. which we derive the model of our parliamentary institu.
The precedents in the British parliamentary practice tions and proceedings. Similar instances have occurred (which, it must be admitted, has furnished the model, in our own country, both before and since our Revolu. and, to a great extent, the law of the proceedings of our tion, subsequent as well as previous to the adoption of legislative bodies bere, and in every State of the Union) our present' federal constitution, both in the State and are, on the subject now under consideration, full, une in the national Legislatures. There is a case in the his. quivocal, and conclusive. Some of them have been tory of my own State, which, as there appears to have mentioned on this floor, and are familiar to the minds of been singular misconceptions about it, the Senate will gentlemen. I will not repeat them; but there are two excuse me for mentioning somewhat in detail. I refer cases which, I believe, have not attracted the notice of to the expunging of a resolution of Mr. Henry, which gentlemen, and which, from the peculiar grounds on took place in the House of Burgesses of Virginia in which they stand, illustrate so forcibly the high supervi. 1765.' This transaction has been referred to as an odi. sory and controlling power of parliamentary bodies over ous and abortive attempt at expunging, made by the their journals, that I will take the liberty of detaining the King's party in the House of Burgesses, which was de. Senate a few moments with their recital.
In 1668, feated by the energy and talents of Mr. Henry. Such, Skinner, an English merchant, presented a petition to sir, are not the facts, as transmitted to us by the most the King, complaining of various wrongs and outrages unquestionable contemporary testimony. The attempt he had sustained from the East India Company. The to expunge was not defeated. The proposiiion, on the matter was considered not cognizable by the ordina. contrary, was carried. It was carried not by an odious ry tribunals, and was referred by the King to the House King's party, but with the concurrence, as we are auof Lords. Strong objections were urged to the juris. thorized to believe from the only account extant of the diction of the House of Lords; but they, nevertheless, transaction, of men who were, and who proved themtook cognizance of the affair, and finally entered a judg. selves to be, among the highest champions of American ment in favor of Skinner against the East India Compa. Freedom and independence; such men as Peyton Ranny, for 5,0001. damages. This proceeding was immedi. | dolph, the President of the first American Congress, ately and earnestly resisted by the House of Commons, George Wythe, Edmund Pendleton, Richard Bland, as contrary to the law of the land, and an invasion of Richard Henry Lee, all of whom afterwards put their the rights of the people. A violent and protracted hands to the declaration of American independence, or controversy ensued between the two Houses; and the bore a conspicuous part in the deliberations which led Lords being compelled at last, after a struggle of eigh- to and established it. The circumstances were these : teen months, and repeated prorogations of both Houses, Mr. Henry moved a series of resolutions, five in numto yield their claim of jurisdiction, they expunged from ber, declaratory of the rights of the colonists. The four their journal the judgment they had entered in favor of first of these resolutions merely reaffirmed what bad Skinner against the East India Company, and the whole been earnestly asserted only six months before by the of their proceedings connected with it; whereupon the House of Burgesses in three several documents of the Commons, in like inanner, expunged from their journal | most solemn character—an address to the King, a methe various resolutions and proceedings they had adopt. morial to the House of Lords, and a remonstrance to the el. In this instance we see a proceeding, even of a judicial Commons. The fifth resolution, however, went some. character, under which private rights might be claimed, what further, and seemed to tender at once an issue of expunged in virtue of ihe bigh discretionary authority force with the mother country. These resolutions were of parliamentary bodies over their journals; and in such opposed by Messrs. Randolph, Bland, Pendleton, Wythe, a case, perhaps, the expunction is admissible, mainly on and other gentlemen, as devoted and firm friends of the the ground that the obnoxious proceeding took place in rights of America as any of the great statesmen and pathe exercise of an illegal jurisdiction, at last admilted to triots of that day, but who deemed Mr. Henry's resolu be such, and intended to be renounced, as in fact it was tions inexpedient at that moment, inasmuch as the senti
March 28, 1836.j
ments and principles they contained had already and In that case, a formal entry, made on the journal in pur. very recently been expressed in other proceedings, to suance of the standing rules of the Senate, and in strict which the expected answers from the Government in conformity to the truth of facts as they transpired, was England were not yet received. The fifth resolution ordered to be expunged, and actually expunged. The was deemed especially inexpedient in the then feeble entry recited the substance of two memorials presented and defenceless condition of the colony, as it might pro- by a member of the Senate, containing grave and crimivoke a conflict of force, for which time and forecast nal insinuations against the Executive, and stated also were necessary to prepare. The resolutions, however, the proceeding of the Senate, which took place on their under a powerful display of Mr. Henry's eloquence, presentation. This entry, as I have already remarked, were passed by one or two votes only; but on the fol was in strict pursuance of the standing rules of the lowing day, on a motion made for that purpose, and Senate, the 32d article of which expressly requires that carried, the fifth resolution was expunged from the "a brief statement of the contents of each petition, journal. These are the facts, as vouched by the testi. memorial, or paper, presented to the Senate, shall be mony of Mr. Jefferson and the elder Judge Carrington, | inserted on the journal;" and, in general, that “a true (both witnesses of the transaction,) and as recorded by and accurate account of the proceedings of the Senate the eloquent biographer of Mr. Henry himself. There shall be entered on the journal.” Now, sir, how is the was then no odious and abortive attempt to expunge, force of this precedent in the annals of our own body made by a King's party in the House of Burgesses. The attempted to be parried? Why, sir, by the circumattempt was not defeated, as has been said; on the con. stance that the order for expunging the obnoxious entry trary, the proposition to expunge was carried, and was adopted on the same day (the last of the session) carried, as we are authorized to believe by the only that the entry itself was made, it being contended that authentic account which has reached us of the transac the journal is not complete till it is read over in the tion, by the influence and with the concurrence of Senate, as it usually is the following morning, for the high-souled American patriots-of Peyton Randolph, purpose of correcting any mistakes which may have President of the first Congress, Richard Bland, one of been made in it; and that, till that ceremony has been the chosen delegates of Virginia to that glorious assem gone through, it is under the perfect control of the bly, Edmund Pendleton, another delegate, and George Senate, and fully open to revision and correction. This Wythe, whose name stands proudly at the head of the is the argument of the honorable Senator from Louisiana, Virginia signatures to the declaration of independence. (Mr. Porter.] It is obvious to remark upon it, in the The two last-named gentlemen, Mr. Pendleton and Mr. first place, that it confounds two things entirely distinct Wythe, afterwards, and for a long period, respectively in their nature, and wholly different in the principles on presided in and adorned the highest courts of law and which they rest—the correction of mistakes in a journal, equity in the State; and it will be no disparagement, I and the expunging of matter therefrom, in which there humbly conceive, !o the pretensions of the highest here, has been no mistake, but which is otherwise and intrinto say that they understood as well, and felt as religious- sically objectionable. The purpose for which the jourly, the sanctity of a record, as any gentleman on this nal is ordinarily read over in the morning, after it is foor.
made up by the Secretary, is simply to correct any misExamples of the like character have occurred in the takes which may have been made in the entries upon it. other States. In the Senate of Massachusetts, as is well This is explicitly declared by the standing rules of the known, a few years after the close of the late war with Senate, the very first of which provides that the “ PresiGreat Britain, a resolution was triumphantly carried for dent having taken the chair, and a quorum being pres, expunging from its journal the anti-American sentiment ent, the journal of the preceding day shall be read, to which the baleful spirit of party had recorded there, in the end that any mistake shall be corrected that shall be the very midst of the conflict—that it was unbecoming made in the entries.” a moral and religious people to rejoice in the successes of Now, sir, in the precedent of 1806, there was no misour arms. At a more recent period, some seven or eight take in the entry which was ordered to be expunged. years ago, the Senate of another highly respectable state, (Tennessee,) as I learn from undoubted authority, judge himself, for his conduct in taking the examination direcied a formal and important entry on its journal to and deposition of the said Samuel G. Ogden. And the be stricken out; which was done in the very manner memorialists, considering Congress as the only power proposed by the resolution on your table, by drawing a competent to relieve them, submit their case to the black line around the condemned entry. But without wisdom of Congress, and pray such relief as the laws dwelling on these instances, let us descend to cases and constitution of this country and the wisdom and which come more immediately home to ourselves. The goodness of Congress may afford them; and the memocase which occurred in this body in 1806, and which rials were read; and, on motion, has been already noticed by the Senator from Missouri, " Ordered, That the memorialists have leave to withhas been in vain attempted to be parried or evaded.* draw their memorials, respectively."
These memorials appear to have been presented in * In that case, the following are the facts: On the 21st the morning. After disposing of them, and a variety of day of April, 1806, being the last day of the session, other business, the Senate took a recess; and met again Mr. Adams presented iwo memorials, which are thus a five o'clock P. M. The very last entry on the journal noticed on the journal:
of the evening session is the following order, adopted on “Mr. Adams communicated two memorials, one from ayes and noes, for expunging every thing in the journal Samuel G. Ogden, and the other from William S. Smith, relative to the aforesaid memorials: stating that they are under a criminal prosecution for “ On motion that every thing in the journal relative certain proceedings, into which they were led, by the to the memorials of S. G. Ogden and Wm. S. Smith be circumstance that their purpose was fully known to, expunged therefrom,” it passed in the affirmative: and approved by, the executive Government of the “ Yeas-Messrs. Adair, Condict, Gilman, Kitchel, LoUnited States; that, on this prosecution, they have been gan, Mitchell, Smith of Maryland, Smith of New York, treated by the judge of the district court of the United Stone, Thruston, Worthington, Wright-12. States at New York, Matthias B. Tallmadge, Esq., in “Nays-Messrs. Adams, Baldwin, Hillhouse, Pickersuch a manner that the same grand jury which founding, Plumer, Smith of Ohio, Tracy, White-8.”– Note the bills against them made a presentment against the by Mr. R.