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public treasure is inexhaustible, without frugal and discreet management. Are we sure of the continuance of our resources? That derived from the land tax we can no longer look to; the other internal taxes will surely follow that on the land. A disposition is manifest to rid the nation of these vexatious taxes, and they will soon die without a struggle or a groan. Our revenue from imposts is liable at all times, to be seriously affected or cut off by a war. In such an event, will the people acquiesce in supporting burdens to construct roads and canals? The appropriation can be made by the next congress; no part of the 1,500,000 dollars will be received before its next session, and not more than one dividend. A change in the aspect of our affairs may occasion regret for this measure.
Many of the states have already expended large sums for the objects contemplated by this bill. Tõe public is sufficiently accommodated. It is unequitable to burthen such states with taxes for a system of internal improvements, not needed by themselves, because other states have neglected these objects.
The measure is inexpedient, because, upon the principles assumed in the bill, the United States may be defeated in the accomplishment of the proposed objects, by a refusal of the assent of the states. If this government has not the power of controlling absolutely roads and canals, leave them with the competent authorities. If it has the power, it should be exerted in a manner becoming the supreme authority, and not by bargains with states.
On the 3d of March, after the bill had passed both houses, the President of the United States, MR. MADISON, sent the following message to the house of representatives:
To the House of Representatives of the United States. Having considered the bill this day presented to me, entitled “ An act to set apart and pledge certain funds for internal im. provements;” and which sets apart and pledges funds“ for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses, in order to facilitate, promote, and give security to internal commerce among the several states, and to render more easy and less expensive the means and provisions for the common defence;" I am constrained, by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling the bill with the constitution of the United States, to return it, with that objection, to the house of representatives, in which it originated.
The legislative powers vested in congress are specified and enumerated in the 8th section of the first article of the constitution; and it does not appear that the power, proposed to be exercised by the bill, is among the enumerated powers; or that it falls, by any just interpretation, within the power to make laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution those or other powers vested by the constitution in the government of the United States.
“ The power to regulate commerce among the several states,” cannot include a power to construct roads and canals, and to improve the navigation of water courses, in order to facilitate, promote, and secure, such a commerce, without a lati-, tude of construction, departing from the ordinary import of the terms, strengthened by the known inconveniences which doubtless led to the grant of this remedial power to congress. To refer the power in question to the clause " to provide for the common defence and general welfare," would be contrary to the established and consistent rules of interpretation; as rendering the special and careful enumeration of powers which follow the clause, nugatory and improper. Such a view of the constitution would have the effect of giving to congress a general power of legislation, instead of the defined and limited one hitherto understood to belong to them; the terms “ common defence and general welfare," embracing every object and act within the purview of a legislative trust. It would have the effect of subjecting both the constitution and laws of the several states, in all cases not specifically exempted, to be superseded by laws of congress; it being expressly declared, “ that the constitution of the United States, and laws made in pursuance thereof, shall be the supreme law of the land, and the judges of every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding." Such a view of the constitution, finally, would have the effect of excluding the judicial authority of the United States from its participation in guarding the boundary between the legislative powers of the general and the state governments; inasmuch as questions relating to the general welfare, being questions of policy and expediency, are unsusceptible of judicial cognizance and decision.
A restriction of the power “ to provide for the common defence and general welfare,” to cases which are to be provided for by the expenditure of money, would still leave within the legislative power of congress all the great and most important measures of government; money being the ordinary and necessary means of carrying them into execution.
If a general power to construct roads and canals, and to improve the navigation of water courses, with the train of powers incident thereto, be not possessed by congress, the assent of the states, in the mode provided in the bill, cannot confer the power. The only cases in which the consent and cession of particular states can extend the power of congress, are those specified and provided for in the constitution.
I am not unaware of the great importance of roads and canals,
and the improved navigation of water courses; and that a power in the national legislature to provide for them, might be exercised with signal advantage to the general prosperity. But, seeing that such a power is not expressly given by the constitution; and believing that it cannot be deduced from any part of it, without an inadmissible latitude of construction, and a reliance on insufficient precedents; believing, also, that the permanent success of the constitution depends on a definite partition of powers between the general and the state governments, and that no adequate land marks would be left, by the constructive extension of the powers of congress, as proposed in the bill, I have no option but to withhold my signature from it; cherishing the hope, that its beneficial objects may be attained, by a resort for the necessary powers, to the same wisdom and virtue in the nation, which established the constitution in its actual form, and providently marked out, in the instrument itself, a safe and practicable mode of improving it, as experience might suggest.
JAMES MADISON. March 3d, 1817.
January 13, 1817. MR. CHAPPELL from the committee of pensions and revolutionary claims, presented an unfavourable report on the petition of John Paulding, one of the persons who took major André, the object of which petition was an increase of the pension al. lowed for that service.
MR. WRIGHT moved that the report should be recommitted with instructions to report in favour of the petitioner's claim.
MR. CHAPPELL said, that the committee did not think the public bound to support the whole family of the petitioner, and as for the man himself, he was amply provided for by the bounty of the country already granted.
Gen. Smith said, that the act for which this man had receive ed a pension was an act out of the ordinary duty of the soldier. West-Point had been saved by it; and what was of more consequence, in all probability, the life of Gen. Washington. Two hundred dollars a year had been the original grant, and the house ought to make the allowance now equal to the value of 200 per annum then, particularly as the man had 13 or 14 children.
MR. SOUTHWARD was in favour of the recommitment. The men who took major André, he said, had resisted the temptation of a large sum of money from him, and he remembered that at the time the whole country rung with their praise.
MR. JEWETT opposed the recommitment: he said, that if 1000 dollars had been given at the time, they would have thought it a most bountiful remuneration; but instead of that, the petitioner had a pension for life of 200 dollars, and had already received four thousand.
Col. TallMADGE said, he always felt unpleasantly when a claim was presented to the house, growing out of the revolutionary war, which he could not support. Having a knowledge of some facts which related to this case, he felt it to be a duty incumbent on him to state them to the house. He said, that when Gen. Washington was about to go to New England to meet Gen. Rochambeau, he wrote to him (Col. Tallmadge,) then with a detachment of troops in advance of the army, near North Castle in the state of New York, directing him to communicate to General Arnold, who then commanded at West-Point, any information he might receive of the movements of the enemy. Nearly at the same time Gen. Arnold wrote to Col. Tallmadge, informing him that he had been apprised of Gen. Washington's instructions to Col. T., and that, as he expected a gentleman from New York, of the name of John Anderson, with important intelligence, he wished him (Col. T.) to give him (Anderson) a safe escort to a place where he (Árnold) would meet him. The next information that occurred (said Col. Tallmadge) was Mr. Anderson's being brought a prisoner to our regiment by John Paulding, Williams, and Van Wart. The papers found on the prisoner were sent by Col. Jamison, who commanded the regiment, to meet Gen. Washington on his return from the eastward, while information of the occurrence was sent to Gen. Arnold. The event, said Col. T. is but too well known.
During this state of suspense, Mr. Anderson could no longer endure to act an assumed character, and frankly acknowledged that he was Major John André, adjutant general of the British army.-Having requested pen, ink, and paper, he made a full disclosure of his true character to the commander in chief, which was immediately forwarded by express to Gen. Washington.
Col. Tallmadge said, that he removed Major André to West Point by order of Gen. Washington, and from thence to the head quarters of the army, and was continually with him until he was executed.
During this period Major André very fully and freely con
versed on the subject of his capture, and informed him, that if he could have commanded a few more guineas than he then had it in his power to offer, beside the gold watch which was in his pocket, he should not have been then a prisoner.
Col. T. said, he knew nothing at all of the three men who were the captors, as they did not then belong to the army, but were of a certain class, who scouted occasionally between the lines. He felt no inclination to undervalue their services; but when he considered that they did no more than what every citizen in the United States, under similar circumstances, was bound to do, he did believe the government had bestowed upon them an ample reward. He could not consider this case as standing on a footing with the services of a man who had been wounded, and perhaps had lost a limb in the service of his country. A soldier under these circumstances, had now for a full pension, since it was raised at the last session, 96 dollars a year: the petitioner had been in the receipt of 200 dollars a year since the capture of Major André took place.--So far from being 4000 dollars, he said it was nearly double that sum that the petitioner had received; and if he was correctly informed, the state of New York had also given to each of them a handsome donation of land. He repeated, that he did not consider this claim as standing at all upon the footing with that of the man who had served his country in the field, and been wounded in the service. He was aware that the value of money had changed since this pension was established; but it would not be deemed necessary in all instances to raise the wages and emoluments of those who received them. In the present instance, there was a standing reward for a display of patriotism which the country had been satisfied with; but he would not consent to increase it for the reasons stated by the petitioner.
Mr. Gold said, he was unwilling, on what had been said by Major André, to detract from the merit of the petitioner. It was a transaction connected with one of the most important events of the war. As an example to men in the humble walks of life he wished to have it preserved in the same spirit as when first granted, and on the same standard of value.
Mr. Forsyth expressed his surprise.—The hon. gentleman from Connecticut had spoken from his own personal knowledge, and the account he had given was very different from that given in history. He did not wish to call the hon. gentleman's words in question; but he wished before he gave a vote, to see evidence of the original transaction.
Gen. Smith said, that the information given by Col. Tallmadge was perfectly novel to him. He had always understood that large offers and promises had been made by Major André,