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less, actuated alone by a sense of duty. I speak of the effects which our proceedings are calculated to produce, without intending to cast the slightest imputation on those who entertain different opinions. Sir, do we not know with what delight and satisfaction the minister of Spain looks on the efforts which are made on this floor to inculpate the executive of the United States, for having committed against his immaculate master an act of hostility, in the entrance into Florida, and the temporary occupation of St. Marks and Pensacola P. With what avidity and pleasure he peruses the able and eloquent arguments delivered in the popular branch of the government, in support of the weighty allegations, which he has already exhibited. of the hostile and unwarrantable conduct of the commander of our army, during the late campaign against the Seminole Indians? And, sir, whatever may be the purity of intention, which I shall not presume to question, on the part of gentlemen who censure the course pursued by the commanding general, this debate will afford a valuable fund, on which Spain will not fail to draw on all future occasions, to show that the pacific relations which she has endeavored to maintain have been violated, without an adequate cause, by the United States. Shall we put it in her power to make this declaration to the civilized world, and establish the fact by a reference to the journal of the House of Representatives? I hope and believe we shall not. Sir, the nature of our free institutions imperiously requires that, on all questions touching controversies with foreign powers, every department of this government should act in concert, and present to the opposite party one undivided, impenetrable front. The observance of this rule, accords with every dictate of patriotism; and is the basis on which alone we can preserve a proper respect for our rights among the great family of nations. Internal divisions are often fatal to the liberties of the people; they never fail to inflict a deep wound on the national character; the lustre and purity of which it is our primary duty to preserve unsullied to the latest posterity. Can it be necessary to call to the recollection of the committee the peculiar and delicate posture of our relations with Spain? A protracted and difficult negotiation, on the subject of boundary and spoliations, is still progressing between the Secretary of State and their accredited minister, at this place; the result is yet extremely doubtful; it may, and I trust will, eventuate in a treaty satisfactory to the parties, on all the points in contest; but, if Spain should continue to reject the moderate and reasonable demands of this government, the indisputable rights of this nation must and will be asserted and vindicated by a solemn appeal to arms. I ask, if, in such a crisis, it is either wise or prudent to pronounce, in the face of the world, that we have been the aggressors, and that war in its most offensive and exceptionable sense has been already commenced by general Jackson, under the sanction of the President of the United States ? I hazard nothing in affirming that such a departure from the established usages of nations is without a parallel in the political history of any country, ancient or modern. Under whatever circumstances danger may threaten us from abroad, it is from this House that the energies of the people are to be aroused and put in motion; it is our province to sound the alarm, and give the impulse which stimulates every portion of the union to a simultaneous and manly exertion of its physical strength, to avenge the insulted honor and violated interests of our country. We are the legitimate organ of public sentiment; and it is incumbent on us to animate and cherish a spirit of resistance to foreign encroachments among our constituents, by urging the justice of our cause, and the necessity of their vigorous co-operation in support of the constituted authorities, who are responsible to them, for the faithful execution of the high and important duties with which they are entrusted. These are the means by which we shall perpetuate our republican form of government, and transmit its blessings to future generations. But we are required, on the present occasion, to forget the wrongs of which we have so long and so justly complained; to abandon, for a while, the lofty attitude of patriotism, and to tell the American people, in anticipation of a rupture with Spain, that it is a war of aggression on the part of their chief executive magistrate, commenced in Florida without proper authority; that the Spanish government can consider it in no other light, than premeditated, offensive war, made on them with a view of extending the territorial limits of the United States. The expression of these opinions, by this body, must cast a shade over the American name, which no lapse of time can obliterate; and, while we nerve the arm of the enemy, we shall approach the contest with an open denunciation against the President, who is charged with its prosecution to a speedy and favorable termination. He is denied the cheering consolation of union in the government over which he has been called to preside, at a period of national peril, when every man ought to be invited to rally around the standard of his country. Sir, how is this most novel and extraordinary aberration from the legislative functions of the House attempted to be explained and justified? By gloomy pictures of a violated constitution; pathetic appeals to humanity, in favor of a barbarous and unrelenting foe; and lamentations over the blighted honor and magnanimity of the nation. I, too, am a conservator of the constitution; I venerate that stupendous fabric of human wisdom; I love my country, and will endeavor to rescue it from the odious imputations, which have been so freely cast on it in the progress of this discussion. I admonish gentlemen, who manifest such ardent zeal to fortify the powers of this House against military usurpations, that they do not suffer that zeal to precipitate them into an error equally repugnant to a sound construction of the constitution. The report of the committee on military affairs, taken in connexion with the amendments proposed by the honorable member from Georgia, (Mr. Cobb.) may be classed under two general divisions. 1st. Resolutions of censure, on the conduct of general Jackson, in Florida, for a violation of the orders of the President, and of the constitution; and for the unlawful execution of the incendiaries Arbuthnot and Ambrister. 2d. Instructions to the committee to prepare and report two several bills, the object of which is to divest this nation of some of the most essential attributes of sovereignty. I shall pass over the latter branch of this subject without observation; believing, as I do, notwithstanding the high respect which I entertain for the mover, that it is not seriously the intention of honorable gentlemen, by an act of legislation, to abrogate the rights of this nation, founded on the universal law of nature, and of nations. Self-denial, though sometimes an amiable quality in an individual member of society, when applied to the whole community, renders it obnoxious to insult and oppression, and is a voluntary degradation, below the rank of other sovereignties, to which no American ought ever to submit. Neutral rights, and the usages of war, are already well established and understood by all civilized powers; and it is not to be presumed that the interpolations, which are proposed, would be reciprocated, and constitute the basis of new principles of public law; we may prostrate our own dignity, and paralyze the energies of our country; but we shall find no nation so pusillanimous as to follow our disinterested example. Considering, therefore, these propositions, as merely nominal, intended only to enlarge the group, and give diversity to the picture, I shall leave them without further animadversion, and proceed to investigate the resolutions levelled at the fame, the honor and reputation, of general Andrew Jackson; and, through him, at the President, under whose orders he acted, and by whom he has been sustained and vindicated. Sir, I

hold it to be the indispensable duty of every tribunal, whether legislative or judicial, to examine, with caution and circumspection, into its jurisdiction and powers, on every question brought before it for adjudication; and this rule ought more particularly to be observed in cases involving personal rights and interests, where the party to be affected by the decision is not permitted to answer in his own defence. I ask, then, sir, has the House of Representatives, as a distinct and separate branch of Congress, the constitutional power to institute an inquiry into the conduct of a military officer, and to sentence him to be cashiered, suspended or censured 2 . I demand a satisfactory and explicit response to this interrogatory, founded on a reference to the constitution itself, and not on the undefined notions of expediency, in which gentlemen may indulge; and if it be not given, as I am very sure it cannot, we shall become the violaters of that fair fabric of liberty, and erect a precedent more dangerous in its tendency, than the multiplied infractions which have been so vehemently alleged against general Jackson, admitting them all the force and latitude, which the most enthusiastic censor could desire. Sir, it is high time to bring back this debate to first principles, and to test our jurisdiction over this case, by a recurrence to the structure of the government of which we are a component part. Let us pluck the beam from our own eyes, before we seek to expel the mote which gentlemen seem to have discovered in the vision of general Jackson. The sages and patriots, who established the foundation of this republic, have, with a wisdom and forecast bordering on inspiration, carefully marked and distributed the powers delegated in the constitution to the federal government among the several departments, legislative, executive and judiciary. No principle is better settled, or more generally conceded, than that the powers properly belonging to one of these departments ought not to be directly administered by either of the others. The violation of this V. On... iii. 18

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