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ciples of the Federal Government will permit; and that, if it is unconstitutional, it is void; and, in that case, we ought to carry into effect the Constitutional part.
To this, I answer, if it is a promise only to admit into the Union, and this promise is unconstitutional, while I agree it is void, it must be agreed on the other side that it makes the whole treaty void; and that one article in a treaty being void, either from an unconstitutional or any other impossibility to carry it into effect, puts it in the power of either party to stay a fulfilment of any and every part of it. No principle in the law of nations respecting the construction of treaties, is better settled, than that every article of a treaty is a consideration for every other article: and if any one article shall be expunged, or its performance becomes impossible, the other party is released from a performance. And my opinion is, that a new negotiation upon the subject of this very article, and an agreement, on the side of the French Government, to release us from a compliance with this article, can alone render us safe in paying the money. After we have paid the money-the $15,000,000-and have fulfilled with ever so much conscientious punctuality every other part of the treaty, yet, if we refuse an admission of these people into our Union, the French may, and probably will, say that, to give the people of Louisiana the full and complete rights of citizens of the United States, was the great and leading motive in ceding to us the territory, and if we deny them that, the treaty is void, and they will take them back again, and give them the enjoyment of real liberty under the First Consul. They will be justified by the law of nations if they do so; but how shall we stand justified if we pay the money, which, with the interest, amounts to twenty-six or twenty-seven millions of dollars, and finally, get nothing for it; unless we call a breach of faith, and war with France, an acquisition?
The seventh article admits for twelve years the ships of France and Spain into the ceded territory, free of foreign duty-this is giving a commercial preference to those ports over the other ports of the United States; because, it is well known that a duty of forty-four cents on tonnage, and ten per cent. on duties, are paid by all foreign ships or vessels in all the ports of the United States. If it be said we must repeal those laws, and then the preference will cease, the answer is, that this seventh article gives the exclusive right of entering the ports of Louisiana to the ships of France and Spain, and if our discriminating duties were repealed this day, the preference would be given to the ports of the United States against those of Louisiana, so that the preference, by any regulation of commerce or revenue, which the Constitution expressly prohibits from being given to the ports of one State over those of another, would be given by this treaty, in violation of the Constitution. I acknowledge, if Louisiana is not admitted into the Union, and that if there is no promise to admit her, then this part of our argument will not apply; but, in declaring these to
be facts, my opponents are driven to acknowledge that the third article of this treaty is void, which answers every purpose which I wish to establish, that this treaty is unconstitutional and void, and that I have, consequently, a right to withhold my vote from any bill which shall be introduced to carry it into effect. I acknowledge, sir, that my opinion ever has been, and still is, that when a treaty is ratified by the constituted authorities, and is a Constitutional treaty, every member of the community is bound by it, as a law of the land; but not so by a treaty which is unconstitutional. The terms of this treaty may be extravagant and unwise, yet, in my legislative capacity, that can form no excuse for an opposition; we may have no title, we may have given an enormous sum, we may have made a silly attempt to destroy the discriminating duties, yet, if the treaty be not unconstitutional, every member of the Government is bound to carry it into effect. I shall be asked, sir, what can be done? Το this question I have two answers: one is, that nothing unconstitutional can or ought to be done; and if it be ever so desirable that we acquire foreign States, and the navigation of the Mississippi, &c., no excuse can be formed for violating the Constitution; and if all those desirable effects cannot take place without violating it, they must be given up. But another and more satisfactory answer can be given. I have no doubt but we can obtain territory either by conquest or compact, and hold it, even all Louisiana, and a thousand times more, if you please, without violating the Constitution. We can hold territory; but to admit the inhabitants into the Union, to make citizens of them, and States, by treaty, we cannot constitutionally do; and no subsequent act of legislation, or even ordinary amendment to our Constitution, can legalize such measures. If done at all, they must be done by universal consent of all the States or partners to our political association. And this universal consent I am positive can never be obtained to such a pernicious measure as the admission of Louisiana, of a world, and such a world. into our Union. This would be absorbing the Northern States, and rendering them as insignificant in the Union as they ought to be, if, by their own consent, the measure should be adopted.
Mr. BRECKENRIDGE observed, that he little expected a proceeding so much out of order would have been attempted, as a re-discussion of the merits of the treaty on the passage of this bill; but as the gentlemen in the opposition had urged it, he would, exhausted as the subject was, claim the indulgence of the Senate in replying to some of their remarks.
No gentleman, continued he, has yet ventured to deny, that it is incumbent on the United States to secure to the citizens of the western waters, the uninterrupted use of the Mississippi. Under this impression of duty, what has been the conduct of the General Government, and particularly of the gentlemen now in the opposition, for the last eight months? When the right of deposit was violated by a Spanish officer without
The Louisiana Treaty.
As to the enormity of price, I would ask that gentleman, would his mode of acquiring it through fifty thousand men have cost nothing? Is he so confident of this as to be able to pronounce positively that the price is enormous? Does he make no calculation on the hazard attending this conflict? Is he sure the God of battles was enlisted on his side? Were France and Spain, under the auspices of Bonaparte, contemptible adversaries?
authority from his Government, these gentlemen considered our national honor so deeply implicated, and the rights of the western people so wantonly violated, that no atonement or redress was admissible, except through the medium of the bayonet. Negotiation was scouted at. It was deemed pusillanimous, and was said to exhibit a want of fellow-feeling for the Western people, and a disregard to their essential rights. Fortunately for their country, the counsel of these gen-Good as the cause was, and great as my confidence tlemen was rejected, and their war measures neg- is in the courage of my countrymen, sure I am, atived. The so much scouted process of negoti- that I shall never regret, as the gentleman seems ation was, however, persisted in, and instead of to do, that the experiment was not made. I am restoring the right of deposit, and securing more not in the habit Mr. President, on this floor, of effectually for the future our right to navigate the panegyrizing those who administer the GovernMississippi, the Mississippi itself was acquired, ment of this country. Their good works are their and everything which appertained to it. I did best panegyrists, and of these my fellow-citizens suppose that those gentlemen, who, at the last are as competent to judge as I am; but if my session so strongly urged war measures for the opinion were of any consequence, I should be attainment of this object, upon an avowal that it | free to declare, that this transaction from its comwas too important to trust to the tardy and less mencement to its close, not only as to the mode effectual process of negotiation, would have stood in which it was pursued, but as to the object foremost in carrying the treaty into effect, and achieved, is one of the most splendid which the that the peaceful mode by which it was acquired annals of any nation can produce. To acquire would not lessen with them the importance of an empire of perhaps half the extent of the one the acquisition. But it seems to me, sir, that the we possessed, from the most powerful and waropinions of a certain portion of the United States like nation on earth, without bloodshed, without with respect to this ill-fated Mississippi, have va- the oppression of a single individual, without in ried as often as the fashions. [Here Mr. B. made the least embarrassing the ordinary operations of some remarks on the attempts which were made your finances, and all this through the peaceful in the old Congress, and which had nearly proved forms of negotiation, and in despite too of the successful, to cede this river to Spain for twenty- opposition of a considerable portion of the comfive years.] But, I trust, continued he, these opin-munity, is an achievement of which the archives ions, schemes, and projects will forever be silenced of the predecessors, at least, of those now in office, and crushed by the vote which we are this eve- cannot furnish a parallel. ning about to pass.
The same gentleman has told us, that this acquisition will, from its extent, soon prove destructive to the Confederacy.
Permit me to examine some of the principal reasons which are deemed so powerful by gentlemen as to induce them to vote for the destruction This, continued Mr. B., is an old and hackneyof this treaty. Unfortunately for the gentlemen, ed doctrine; that a Republic ought not to be too no two of them can agree on the same set of ob- extensive. But the gentleman has assumed two jections; and what is still more unfortunate, I facts, and then reasoned from them. First, that believe there is no two of them concur in any one the extent is too great; and secondly, that the objection. In one thing only they seem to agree, country will be soon populated. I would ask, sir, and that is to vote against the bill. An honorable what is his standard extent for a Republic? How gentleman from Delaware (Mr WHITE) consid- does he come at that standard? Our boundary is ers the price to be enormous. An honorable gen- already extensive. Would his standard extent be tleman from Connecticut, who has just sat down, violated by including the island of Orleans and (Mr. TRACY,) says he has no objection whatever the Floridas? I presume not, as all parties seem to the price; it is, he supposes, not too much. An to think their acquisition, in part or in whole, eshonorable gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. sential. Why not then acquire territory on the PICKERING) says that France acquired no title west, as well as on the east side of the Missisfrom Spain, and therefore our title is bad. The sippi? Is the Goddess of Liberty restrained by same gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. TRACY) water courses? Is she governed by geographisays, he has no objection to the title of France; cal limits? Is her dominion on this continent he thinks it a good one. The gentleman from confined to the east side of the Mississippi? So Massachusetts (Mr. PICKERING) contends that the far from believing in the doctrine that a ReUnited States cannot under the Constitution ac- public ought to be confined within narrow limquire foreign territory. The gentleman from Con-its, I believe, on the contrary, that the more necticut is of a different opinion, and has no doubt extensive its dominion the more safe and more but that the United States can acquire and hold durable it will be. In proportion to the number foreign territory; but that Congress alone have of hands you intrust the precious blessings of the power of incorporating that territory into the a free government to, in the same proportion do Union. Of what weight, therefore, ought all their you multiply the chances for their preservation. lesser objections be entitled to, when they are at | I entertain, therefore, no fears for the Confedwar among themselves on the greater one?! eracy on account of its extent. The American
people too well know the art of governing and of being governed, to become the victims of party factions or of domestic tyranny. They not only understand the true theory of a free government, but as well understand a much rarer thing, the true art of practising it. Had a great nation beyond the Atlantic, so often alluded to by some gentlemen on this floor, understood the practice but half as well as she did the theory, a very different result would have been produced by her revolution. I believe, sir, there are a set of general causes which operate in every Government, and either exalt and support it, or else involve it in ruin. If any particular cause has destroyed the Government of a country, some general cause has existed and produced the ruin. Whenever that general cause shall exist, it matters little whether the extent of the Republic be great or small, for its destruction is equally inevitable.
But is the immediate population of that country, even admitting its extent were too great, a necessary consequence? Cannot the General Government restrain the population within such -bounds as may be judged proper? Will gentlemen say that this impracticable? Let us not then, sir, assume to ourselves so much wisdom and foresight in attempting to decide upon things which properly belong to those who are to succeed us. It is enough for us to make the acquisition: the time and manner of disposing of it, must be left to posterity. If they do not improve the means of national prosperity and greatness which we have placed in their hands, the fault or the folly will lie with them. But nothing so remote is more clear to me, than that this acquisition will tend to strengthen the Confederacy. (It is evident, as this country had passed out of the hands of Spain, that whether it remained with France, or should be acquired by England, its population would have been attempted. Such is the policy of all nations but Spain. From whence would that population come? Certainly not from Europe. It would come almost exclusively from the United States. The question, then, would simply be, "Is the Confederacy more in danger from Louisiana, when colonized by American people under American jurisdiction, than when populated by Americans under the control of some foreign, powerful, and rival nation ?" Or, in other words, whether it would be safer for the United States to populate this country when and how she pleased, or permit some foreign nation to do it at her expense?
The gentlemen from Delaware and Massachusetts both contend, that the third article of the treaty is unconstitutional, and our consent to its ratification a nullity, because the United States cannot acquire foreign territory. I am really at a loss how to understand gentlemen. They admit, if I do understand them, that the acquisition of a part at least of this country is essential to the United States, and must be made. That this acquisition must extend to the soil; and to use the words of their resolutions last session, "that it is not consistent with the dignity of the Union to
hold a right so important by a tenure so uncertain." How, I ask, is this "certain tenure" to be acquired, but by conquest, or a purchase of the soil? Did not gentlemen intend, when they urged its seizure, that the United States, if successful, should hold it in absolute sovereignty? Were any Constitutional difficulties then in the way? And will they now be so good as to point out that part of the Constitution which authorizes us to acquire territory by conquest, but forbids us to acquire it by treaty? But if gentlemen are not satisfied with any of the expositions which have been given of the third article of the treaty, is there not one way, at least, by which this territory can be held? Cannot the Constitution be so amended, (if it should be necessary) as to embrace this territory? If the authority to acquire foreign territory be not included in the treaty-making power, it remains with the people; and in that way all the doubts and difficulties of gentlemen may be completely removed; and that, too, without affording France the smallest ground of exception to the literal execution on our part of that article of the treaty.
Suppose, continues the same gentleman, we should discover before the end of the session that France had acquired from Spain no title to Louisiana; would you not put it out of your power to withhold the stock, by passing this bill? If such a discovery had any possibility of existence, there would be some force in the objection; but with the information before us, such discovery is impossible. By the treaty, France declares and covenants that she has an "incontestable title." Spain has sanctioned that covenant by a similar declaration that the right is in France, and has parted, so far as is in her power, with the possession, by the delivery to France of the royal order for its surrender. It would, therefore, be a strange discovery now to make, that France had no title, nevertheless the declarations and the acts of Spain to the contrary. But how could we reconcile such conduct to ourselves and to the world, after what has passed? A purchase has been made from France, and no exception taken during the negotiation to her title. The treaty has been ratified and proclaimed by the President; Congress have passed an act authorizing him to take possession. He has no doubt made the arrangements, and is at this moment carrying into execution the injunction of that act; but when we are about to fulfil the only stipulation which is important to France we are called on to hold our hands, and examine if we cannot discover some flaw in the title we have purchased. Is this a candid, a becoming, an honorable course of proceeding? Would it not rather be a diplomatic and Legislative coup de main, to avail ourselves of the possession of this country, which France and the world might justly call perfidy? It certainly would; and the rejection or even postponement of this bill on such grounds would, in my opinion, afford France no trifling pretext for the non-execution of the treaty on her part.
It is said that there is something mysterious in the very face of the treaty, for no consideration
The Louisiana Treaty.
is stated to be given for this territory. The gen-making power? Could the gentleman rise in his tleman has certainly not examined these instruments with attention: and I shall merely refer him to the ninth article of the treaty. That article expressly refers to the conventions, and declares them to be a part of it. Those conventions, which are to be ratified jointly and at the same time with the treaty, state the consideration.
I had hoped, sir, that the gentleman from Connecticut, (Mr. TRACY,) from the trouble he was so good as to give himself yesterday in assisting to amend this bill, would have voted for it; but it seems he is constrained to vote to-day against it. He asks, if the United States have power to acquire and add new States to the Union, can they not also cede States? Can they not, for example, cede Connecticut to France? I answer they can not; but for none of the reasons assigned by him The Government of the United States cannot cede Connecticut, because, first, it would be annihilating part of that sovereignty of the nation which is whole and entire, and upon which the Government of the United States is dependant for its existence; and secondly, because the fourth section of the fourth article of the Constitution forbids it. But how does it follow as a consequence, that because the United States cannot cede an existing State, they cannot acquire a new State? He admits explicitly that Congress may acquire territory and hold it as a territory, but cannot incorporate it into the Union. By this construction he admits the power to acquire territory, a modification infinitely more dangerous than the unconditional admission of a new State; for by his construction, territories and citizens are considered and held as the property of Government of the United States, and may consequently be used as dangerous engines in the hands of the Government against the States and people.
place and move for leave to bring in a bill for the purchase of Louisiana and its admission into the Union? I take it that no transaction of this or any other kind with a foreign Power can take place except through the Executive Department, and that in the form of a treaty, agreement, or concan then make such disposition of it as may be vention. When the acquisition is made, Congress expedient.
same gentleman has discovered that it is not the In the search for objections to this treaty, the business of France to deliver possession of this country, because the second article of the conven tion says we are to take possession of it; and another gentleman on the same point observes that the possession may also be an incomplete one, for the President, for aught he knows, may consider the seizing a twig or the knocker of a door sufficient. Here is another instance of an objection which is refuted by a mere reference to the instrument itself; for the fourth and fifth articles of the treaty expressly stipulate that the Government of France shall send a commissary to Louisiana to receive it and all its dependencies from the officers of Spain, and in the name of the French Republic United States. As to the other objection, which to transmit it to the commissary or agent of the is founded on a doubt whether the President will take complete possession or not, it really exhibits the most unconstitutional distrust of the Executive Department which I have ever witnessed. If he cannot be trusted, who are to be the judges whether this delivery of possession be complete Houses of Congress shall take upon themselves or not? Does the gentleman intend that the two the management of this business? But greater trusts have been confided to former Presidents. which enabled the then President not only to raise Have gentlemen forgotten the law of 1798 or 1799, an army, but to go to war, if in his opinion exigencies should require it? Have they forgotten a more recent event-the resolutions proposed by themselves at the last session, authorizing the President to raise an army of 50,000 men, and take possession of this country by force? The confidence of gentlemen in the President was then abundant, indeed; but now he cannot be trusted to receive peaceable possession of that, which, but a few months ago, they were anxious to authorize him to take by conquest from both France and
Could we not, says the same gentleman, incorporate in the Union some foreign nation contain ing ten millions of inhabitants-Africa, for in stance and thereby destroy our Government? Certainly the thing would be possible if Congress would do it, and the people consent to it; but it is supposing so extreme a case and is so barely possible, that it does not merit serious refutation. It is also possible and equally probable that republicanism itself may one day or other become unfashionable, (for I believe it is not without its enemies,) and that the people of America may call for a King. From such hypotheses it is impossi-Spain. ble to deduce anything for or against the construction contended for. The true construction must depend on the manifest import of the instrument and the good sense of the community.
clares that he has no objection to the title of France, Although the gentleman from Connecticut denor to the price agreed to be given; and although the Constitution, to purchase and to hold the counhe admits the United States have power, under try as territory; yet, still, he cannot vote for the measure. Has that gentleman, and those who of things which will result, in case they should mean to give a similar vote, well weighed the state be successful in their opposition?
The same gentleman, in reply to the observations which fell from the gentleman from South Carolina, as to the admission of new States, observes, that although Congress may admit new States, the President and Senate who are but a component part, cannot. Apply this doctrine to the case before us. How could Congress by any mode of legislation admit this country into the right? What course do gentlemen mean to purIs not the national honor pledged to procure this Union until it was acquired? And how can this sue to attain it? Or do they mean to abandon near acquisition be made except through the treaty-la million of your Western citizens to ruin and
despair? If you reject this treaty, with what face can you open another negotiation? What President would venture another mission, or what Minister could be prevailed on to be made the instrument of another negotiation? You adopt the treaty, direct possession to be taken of the country, and then refuse to pay for it!
What palliation can we offer to our Western citizens for a conduct like this? Will they be content with the refined and metaphysical reasonings and constructions upon which gentlemen have bottomed their opposition to-day? Will it be satisfactory to them to be told that the title is good, the price low, the finances competent, and the authority, at least to purchase, Constitutional; but that the country is too extensive, and that the admission of these people to all the privileges we ourselves enjoy, is not permitted by the Constitu-ry to receive the country from the Spanish offition? It will not, sir.
Without disparagement, Mr. President, to any portion of America, I hesitate not to declare that I believe the people of the Western States are as sincerely attached to the Confederacy, and to the true principles of the Constitution, as any other quarter of the Union. A great portion of them have emigrated from the Atlantic States, and are attached to them by all those ties which so strongly bind societies together. The present generation may therefore possibly be disposed to endure much. But can you hope that those attachments, or dispositions to acquiesce in wrongs, will descend to our sons? Let no such calculations, I pray you, be made either upon us, or on those who are to succeed us. They will prove fallacious. There is a point of endurance beyond which even the advocates for passive obedience and non-resistance cannot expect men to pass. That point is at once reached the moment you solemnly declare, by your vote, that a part of your citizens shall not enjoy those natural rights and advantages of which they are unjustly deprived, and which you have not the complete power to restore to them. Then it is that gentlemen may talk of danger to the Union; then it is I shall begin to tremble for my country; and then it is, and not till then, I shall agree with gentlemen that the Confederacy is in danger.
Mr. ADAMS.-It is not my intention to trespass long upon the patience of the Senate, on a subject which has already been debated almost to satiety; but, as objections on Constitutional grounds have been raised against the bill under discussion, I wish to say a very few words in justification of the vote which I think it my duty to give.
that it may mean nothing more than the delivery of a twig, or of the knob of a door. That, from sources of the authenticity of which we have no reason to doubt, we are informed that Spain is very far from acquiescing in the cession of this territory to us; that probably the Spanish officers will not deliver peaceable possession'; and that we ought not to put out of our own hands the power of withholding the payment of this money, until it shall be ascertained, beyond all question, that the territory, for which it is the consideration, is in our hands. But, sir, admitting that the word possession were of itself not sufficiently precise, I think, with the gentleman last up that the fourth and fifth articles of the treaty, read by him, render it so in this instance. The fourth, stipulating that the French commissary shall do every act necessacers, and transmit it to the agent of the United States-and the fifth, providing, not only that all the military posts shall be delivered to us; and that the troops, whether of France or Spain, shall cease to occupy them, but that those troops shall all be embarked, within three months after the ratification of the treaty. Now, when the country has been formally surrendered to us, when all the military posts are in our hands, and when all the troops, French or Spanish, have been embarked, what possible adverse possession can there be to contend against ours? Until all these conditions shall have been fulfilled on the part of France, neither the convention nor the bill before us requires the payment of money on ours; and we may safely trust the execution of the law to the discretion of the President of the United States. For, even if I could see any reason for distrusting him in the exercise of such a power, under different circumstances, which I certainly do not, still, in the present case, his own interest, and the weight of responsibility resting upon him, are ample security to us, against any undue precipitation on his part, in the payment of the money. On the other hand, I am extremely solicitous that every tittle of the engagements on our part in these conventions should be performed with the most scrupulous good faith, and I see no purpose of utility that can be answered by postponing the determination on the passage of this bill.
But it has been argued that the bill ought not to pass, because the treaty itself is an unconstitutional, or to use the words of the gentleman from Connecticut, an extra constitutional act; because it contains engagements which the powers of the The objections against the passage of the bill, Senate were not competent to ratify, the powers as far as my recollection serves me, are two: the of Congress not competent to confirm, and, as first, started by the honorable gentleman from Del-two of the gentlemen have contended, not even aware who opened this debate; the second, urged by several of the other members who have spoken upon the question.
The gentleman from Delaware admits the necessity of making the provision for carrying into execution, on our part, the treaty which has been duly ratified by the Senate, provided we can obtain complete and undoubted possession of the territory ceded us by France, in that treaty. But he observes, that the term possession is indefinite; 8th CON.-3
the Legislatures of the number of States requisite to effect an amendment of the Constitution are adequate to sanction. It is therefore, say they, a nullity; we cannot fulfil our part of its conditions, and on our failure in the performance of any one stipulation, France may consider herself as absolved from the obligations of the whole treaty on her. I do not conceive it necessary to enter into the merits of the treaty at this time. The proper occasion for that discussion is past. But, allowing